Preventing Northern Spotted Owl Extinction

Federally designated critical habitat is just that — critical to the survival of imperiled plants and animals, and protected to aid in recovery of the species. For the northern spotted owl, an icon of the Pacific Northwest struggling against extinction, this habitat is more than just critical: it is essential to keep the species from disappearing forever.

In the Trump administration’s final six days, it entered into a sweetheart settlement agreement with the timber industry to eliminate 3.4 million acres of northern spotted owl critical habitat in Washington state, Oregon, and California — about a third of all critical habitat for the species — to make way for logging. This decision was almost certainly a death sentence for the species, and one of the most egregious environmental abuses of the Trump administration. We challenged it in federal court to stand between the northern spotted owl and extinction.

In 2021, the Biden administration responded to our lawsuit by restoring 3.4 million acres of northern spotted owl critical habitat, providing a lifeline to this charismatic Pacific Northwest icon. While we celebrate that as a victory, the Biden administration will still eliminate 200,000 acres of northern spotted habitat — an unacceptable sacrifice that will harm the owl. We are considering our legal options about this decision.

We’ve fought for northern spotted owls since our founding, and will continue to stand up for the owl until it fully recovers. We forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to admit the northern spotted owl deserves increased protections, paving the way for the Biden administration to do the right thing. While we work toward that goal, we aim to restore protections for the cathedral forests that are home to the Pacific Northwest’s most famous resident.

 

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Susan Jane Brown: Bio | Docket

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