Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Public Comment Period Extended On Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan

Nov 12, 2010

Contact:         Janet Lebson, (503) 231-6179 or janet_lebson@fws.gov

Public Comment Period Extended On Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan
Public comments accepted through December 15, 2010

A 30-day extension to the public comment period for the draft revised recovery plan for the northern spotted owl, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1990, was announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Public comments on the draft plan will now be accepted through December 15, 2010.

The draft plan, rolled out on September 8, 2010, originally had a 60-day public comment period beginning on September 15 and ending on November 15, 2010.  The extension will affect the agency’s original timeline for completing the plan by the end of the year.  The final revised recovery plan is now expected to be completed early in 2011.

“We’re at a critical juncture in the effort to recover the northern spotted owl and promote healthy Northwest forests,” said Paul Henson, State Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office.  “We want to be inclusive and responsive to our constituents so that we can move forward together with pragmatic solutions to our longstanding forest management challenges.”

 The most significant differences between the draft revised recovery plan and the original 2008 plan relate to habitat protection and hands-on forest management practices.  The revision calls for stronger measures for protecting the highest quality habitat and more active forest management techniques, including fuels treatment, thinning, and aggressive restoration, in other areas throughout the spotted owl’s range in Washington, Oregon, and California. 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently received requests to extend the public review and comment period from several Members of Congress, including Congressmen Norm Dicks (WA), Brian Baird (WA), Doc Hastings (WA), Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA), Greg Walden (OR), and Peter DeFazio (OR), as well as Senator Ron Wyden (OR).  Leading timber industry groups also made similar requests.  Members of Congress and timber groups requested extensions ranging from 30 to 90 days, with some also asking the agency to hold public meetings on the draft revised recovery plan. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has received input from key partners who are concerned that delaying the completion of the recovery plan, and subsequent development of a revised critical habitat designation, will extend the uncertainty Northwest forest managers face as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service goes through these processes. 

The decision to extend the comment period by 30 days enables the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to meet a court-ordered schedule to finalize the recovery plan and revise critical habitat for the spotted owl. 

As the revised recovery plan was being developed over the last year, and since it was released for public review and comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service engaged with environmental groups; the timber industry; federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies; and leading scientists in the conservation and academic communities to bring the best science, resources, and perspectives into policy deliberations. 

Written comments on the draft revised recovery plan can be sent via email to NSORPComments@fws.gov or mailed to:  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, Oregon 97266. 

More information on the draft revised recovery plan is available at  http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov and in Oregon, http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/