FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(San Francisco, January 14, 2021)— In what amounts to a last-minute parting shot from the outgoing administration, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife (FWS) has announced the exclusion of more than three million acres from lands designated as critical habitat for the threatened Northern Spotted Owl, more than ten times the original amount the agency proposed in August of last year. The timber industry and a number of counties in Washington, Oregon and California had lobbied FWS for the exclusion of additional acres.
“Even with what should be one foot out the door, the outgoing administration doesn’t miss an opportunity to chip away at regulations protecting lands cherished by millions that harbor species that live nowhere else,” said Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California. “The administration has declared open season on America’s public lands even as it leaves office, with dozens of threatened and endangered species hanging in the balance.”
The Northern Spotted Owl was first listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. The National Audubon Society was heavily involved in the development of the Northwest Forest Plan, implemented in 1994, working with federal, state and local governments to secure lands crucial to the owl’s survival. By 2012, mostly federal land designated as critical habitat for the species had expanded to 9.6 million acres. This week’s revision slashes that by 3,472,064 acres, with FWS claiming that "The benefits of exclusion of particular areas of critical habitat outweigh the benefits of designation of particular areas of critical habitat based on economic, national security and other relevant impacts.” At the same time, the agency admitted that it conducted no new research into the economic effects of the critical habitat designation in excluding the acreage.
Jason Howe, firstname.lastname@example.org; 415-595-9245
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The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.