Joan Jewett, (503) 231-6211
Dr. Steven Courtney, (503) 246-5008
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Regional Director Ren Lohoefener today released a scientific review of the northern spotted owl draft recovery plan that will help guide completion of a strategy for recovering the threatened bird.
The report, prepared by Sustainable Ecosystems Institute of Portland, Oregon, is the result of three months of evaluation led by Dr. Steven Courtney, Vice-President of SEI, under contract with the Service. To carry out the review, Courtney convened a scientific panel of nine eminent owl and forest experts, supported by five external reviewers and SEI staff. The review considered all written scientific comments the Service has received on the April 2007 draft plan as well as scientific presentations at two public meetings and additional information from scientists.
"Dr. Courtney and the other scientists have taken a hard look at our draft plan and all relevant information and produced a report that is proving invaluable as we develop a final plan," Regional Director Lohoefener said. "They've identified areas that need more work and we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to develop the best plan."
The SEI review considered all available information and evaluated the strength of evidence on topics ranging from genetics to ecosystems dynamics and the use of science in management.
"Peer review is the scientific community's equivalent of quality control, and the Fish and Wildlife Service is to be commended for carrying out peer review on this important scientific assessment," Dr. Courtney said. "While our evaluation is supportive of many scientific conclusions in the draft Recovery Plan, it does identify some opportunities for improvement. This means that the Recovery Plan is likely to be stronger, and that the peer review process has worked."
The 150-page report is available today at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/NSORecoveryPlanning.htm
In addition to the SEI review, the Service recently convened three working groups of scientists to provide additional expert advice on habitat issues, barred owls and fire impacts. The final recovery plan for the northern spotted owl is being completed by members of the Interagency Support Team (IST), which consists of scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. A final plan is expected in May.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, 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.