Timber Company Plans Proposing New Habitat Conservation Plan to Benefit Northern Spotted Owls, Other Wildlife
Apr 16, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2010
Contact: Matt Baun (530) 340-2387
TIMBER COMPANY PLANS PROPOSING A NEW HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN TO BENEFIT NORTHERN SPOTTED OWLS, OTHER WILDLIFE
ARCATA, Calif., -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the beginning of a 30-day public scoping and comment period on the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) currently being developed by the Green Diamond Resource Company.
During the comment period, which concludes on May 17, 2010, the Service invites other agencies, Tribes and the public to submit written comments providing suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed during the environmental review.
Green Diamond is preparing an HCP and an application for an incidental take permit (ITP) related to forest management and timber operations on its lands in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, California. The application will cover the northern spotted owl and other wildlife species.
The HCP being developed updates one the company instituted in 1992. The new HCP is necessary to apply new scientific information gained from nearly 20 years of research on the northern spotted owl, the Pacific fisher, tree voles, and a variety of other forest species. This new information suggests that spotted owls and other species would be best managed on commercial redwood forest land in a landscape of older stands near younger forests where prey species, including woodrats, may thrive.
The Service’s comprehensive environmental review will analyze this approach along with alternative ways to use this new information. The Service seeks public input on the effects that implementation of a new HCP could have on endangered and threatened species and their habitats, appropriate mitigation measures that should be considered, and appropriate measures to monitor the conservation success of the HCP. The Service also seeks public input on other significant environmental impacts that may occur as a result of this HCP.
The proposed new HCP will cover company activities including timber harvest, construction and maintenance of roads and landings, site preparation and tree planting, and other forest management and silvicultural activities typical of commercial timberland operation in northwestern California.
The company will also adopt conservation measures necessary to conserve wildlife species on its lands consistent with its proposed forest management activities. In addition, a recently implemented Aquatic HCP includes provisions for streamside management and geologic hazard zones that Green Diamond anticipates will provide benefits to spotted owls, fishers and other terrestrial species.
As required by the Endangered Species Act, the proposed new HCP must specify the measures Green Diamond will take to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the proposed plan. The proposed new HCP will address the retention of suitable spotted owl nesting habitat, the development of older forest habitat elements and habitat structures, future establishment of spotted owl nest sites in streamside retention zones, cluster owl sites in favorable habitat areas consistent with recent improvements in our understanding of owl conservation, and would initiate future research on other wildlife species such as fishers and barred owls.
A copy of the Federal Register notice that fully describes the Green Diamond Resource Company’s Forest Habitat Conservation Plan application is available on the Service’s web site at: www.fws.gov/arcata. Written comments regarding the scope of the EIS and requests for additional information should be addressed to Ms. Nancy Finley, Field Supervisor, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, California, 95521. You may also submit comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and by fax to (707) 822–8411. Written comments must be received by the Fish and Wildlife Service by May 17, 2010.