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Northern Spotted Owl Species Profile

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Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Information Site
Conservation Partnerships

Photo - Two juveniles with adult northern spotted owl (USFWS).Working Together for Conservation

Because more than two-thirds of all listed species live all or part of their lives on privately owned land, non-federal landowners are often important partners in endangered species recovery.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a variety of voluntary conservation partnerships with state and local agencies, tribes, businesses, and private landowners.  These include Safe Harbor agreements, Habitat Conservation Plans, and our Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. 

A Safe Harbor is a voluntary agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a private landowner.  Safe Harbors encourage private landowners to carry out habitat conservation measures on their land to benefit listed species.  In exchange, we provide assurances that future land use restrictions will not be imposed if the species is then attracted to the site.  This provides landowners with more certainty for their land use planning. 

Similarly, Habitat Conservation Plans are for non-federal landowners, usually government agencies, private organizations, or businesses, whose otherwise lawful activities are expected to occasionally result in “incidental take” of a listed species.  We work with these landowners to develop provisions for monitoring, minimizing, and mitigating for potential incidental take.

Under our Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, we provide financial and technical assistance to private landowners who are interested in restoring and protecting wildlife habitat on their property.

Conservation partnerships for the northern spotted owl

Photo - Forest site (USFWS).Protecting habitat on federal lands has been the focus of recovery efforts for the northern spotted owl since it was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990; however, non-federal lands can (and do) play a valuable role in recovery. 

Our goal is to work with partners and citizens to evaluate the potential contribution of state and private lands to recovery in areas where federal lands are limited.  In those areas, we will work together to develop economic and other sensible incentives for voluntary habitat conservation partnerships such as Safe Harbor agreements and Habitat Conservation Plans.

There are currently five Safe Harbor agreements for the spotted owl—two in Washington, one (statewide) in Oregon, and two in northern California.  There are currently 12 Habitat Conservation Plans for the spotted owl: six in Washington covering more than 2 million acres, two in Oregon covering 200,000 acres, and four in California covering more than 200,000 acres.

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Conservation Plans