More time to have say on spotted owl plan


As we wrote here and here, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is getting close to issuing a revised spotted owl plan and is taking public comment on the proposed plan. That 60-day comment period would have ended about now, but the feds just announced that the comment period is being extended another month, until Dec. 15th.

This is good news. The revised spotted owl plan has a lot of problems, as we outlined here, and more time will mean a few more weeks for the federal government to receive feedback and to reconsider some of the more onerous portions of the plan.

While the timber industry and members of Congress from Oregon and Washington asked for the extension, it appears that even conservation groups wanted more time, according to the Associated Press.

The timber industry and members of Congress asked for an even longer extension. They said the draft proposed significant changes to the 2008 plan, including a consideration for the first time of private lands in saving the owl from extinction.

“What’s the rush,” Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, said in a statement. “It’s as if they are trying to hide fatal flaws in the plan.”

The timber industry and conservation groups both said they wanted to see details about a system of habitat reserves that would be created to protect owl habitat.

“It’s unclear whether they will actually have reserves for the owl, or something similar to what was rejected previously by scientific peer review,” said Dominic DellaSala, president of the Geos Institute, a conservation group. “Right now we’re still waiting for what’s behind the curtain.”

Use the extended comment period to let the Obama administration know that the revised plan has serious problems. It’s critical that people who are concerned about the viability of working forests make their voices heard.

Here is where to submit comments:

Emailed comments can be sent to: Written comments should be submitted to: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Avenue, Ste. 100, Portland, OR 97266.