[Federal Register: April 26, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 80)]
[Page 20865-20866]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix 
occidentalis caurina)

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the Draft Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl 
(Strix occidentalis caurina) (northern spotted owl) for public review 
and comment.

DATES: Comments on the draft recovery plan must be received on or 
before June 25, 2007. We will also conduct four public meetings in 
order to receive oral comments about this plan. For dates, times, and 
locations, please refer to the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of 
this notice.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the plan can be sent electronically to 
NSOplan@fws.gov, or mailed to NSO Recovery Plan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 

Service, Ecological Services, 911 NE., 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 
97232. Copies of the draft recovery plan will be available by request 
from the same Portland address (telephone: 503-231-2194). An electronic 
copy of the draft recovery plan is also available at: http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/plans.html

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Phifer, Northern Spotted Owl 
Recovery Plan Project Manager, at the Portland address identified above 
(telephone 503-724-1886, fax 503-231-2050).



    Restoring endangered or threatened animals and plants to the point 
where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their 
ecosystems is a primary goal of our endangered species program. The 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (ESA) requires the 
development of recovery plans for listed species unless such a plan 
would not promote the conservation of a particular species. Recovery 
plans help guide the recovery effort by describing actions considered 
necessary for the conservation of the species, establishing criteria 
for downlisting or delisting listed species, and estimating time and 
cost for implementing the measures needed for recovery.
    Section 4(f) of the ESA requires that public notice, and an 
opportunity for public review and comment, be provided during recovery 
plan development. We will consider all information presented during the 
public comment period. Substantive comments on the recovery needs of 
the species or other aspects of recovery plan development may result in 
changes to the recovery plan. Substantive comments regarding recovery 
plan implementation may not necessarily result in changes to the 
recovery plan, but will be forwarded to appropriate Federal agencies or 
other entities so that they can take these comments into account during 
the course of implementing recovery actions. Individual responses to 
comments will not be provided.
    The northern spotted owl inhabits structurally complex forests from 
southwest British Columbia through the Cascade Mountains and coastal 
ranges in Washington, Oregon, and California, as far south as Marin 
County. When the northern spotted owl was listed under the ESA as a 
threatened species on June 26, 1990, the major threats were identified 
as widespread loss and

[[Page 20866]]

adverse modification of suitable habitat across the owl's entire range 
and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to conserve the 
owl. Currently, populations of northern spotted owls are declining, 
especially in the northern parts of the species' range.
    Scientific research and monitoring have reported that northern 
spotted owls generally rely on older forested habitats because such 
habitats contain the structures and characteristics required for 
nesting, roosting, and foraging. Recent landscape-level studies in 
several southern portions of the northern spotted owl's range suggest a 
mosaic of forest conditions may result in good northern spotted owl 
habitat, though other studies have not reported that finding.
    The most important threat currently facing the northern spotted owl 
is believed to be competition with the barred owl (Strix varia). 
Actions associated with addressing the barred owl threat were given the 
highest recovery priority, meaning the action ``must be taken to 
prevent extinction or prevent the species from declining irreversibly 
in the foreseeable future.'' Other important threats to the northern 
spotted owl continue to be loss of habitat quality and quantity as a 
result of past activities and disturbances, and ongoing and projected 
loss of habitat as a result of fire, logging and conversion of habitat 
to other uses.
    The draft recovery plan provides two options for recovery, and we 
are seeking public comment on the effectiveness of both options to 
achieve recovery. Both options are based on the same underlying 
science, and contain essentially the same recovery goal, objectives, 
criteria, and actions. The options differ in that option 1 identifies 
(i.e., maps) the specific conservation area boundaries in which most of 
the recovery actions and criteria will be targeted. Option 2 does not 
designate specific conservation area boundaries, rather it provides a 
``rule set'' that will help guide the Federal land management agencies 
when undertaking conservation actions for the northern spotted owl. 
Both options rely on Federal lands to provide the primary contribution 
for northern spotted owl recovery.
    The intent of providing two options for public comment in a draft 
recovery plan is to promote open public discussion about how to 
successfully recover this species.

Public Comments Solicited

    We will conduct four public meetings, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., 
to receive oral comments about this plan on:
     May 22, 2007, Tuesday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds 
Complex Conference Hall, 2110 SW Frear Street, Roseburg, OR;
     May 23, 2007, Wednesday at the Redding Convention Center, 
700 Auditorium Drive, Redding, CA;
     May 30, 2007, Wednesday at the Oregon Convention Center, 
Portland Ballroom, 777 Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., 
Portland, OR; and
     May 31, 2007, Thursday at St. Martin's University, Norman 
Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE., Lacey, WA.
    Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodations to 
participate in the public meetings are invited to contact Angela Butsch 
at 1-888-812-5759 (voice) or 503-231-6263 (TTY), or 
angela_butsch@fws.gov. Reasonable accommodation requests should be received at 

least 3 business days prior to the meeting to help ensure availability; 
2 weeks notice is requested for ASL/ESL interpreter needs.
    We are also soliciting written comments on the draft recovery plan 
described. All comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered in the finalization of this plan. Before including your 
address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying 
information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire 
comment--including your personal identifying information--may be made 
publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to 
withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials 
received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the above address.
    We would specifically appreciate comments on the following topics 
found in both options:
     The methods used to determine desired habitat percentages 
listed in Recovery Criterion 4. If recommendations are offered, 
respondents are asked to explain the scientific foundation supporting 
their comments;
     The biological need, design and feasibility of attempting 
to provide connectivity between the Olympic Peninsula and central 
Washington northern spotted owl populations;
     The biological value in identifying conservation areas in 
southwest Washington and northwest Oregon;
     The practicality of Appendix E, which provides examples of 
how a salvage logging action (Recovery Action 22) may be implemented;
     The identified boundaries of the Managed Owl Conservation 
Areas (option 1 only) and the Conservation Support Areas;
     Methods for managing the threat posed by barred owls; and
     Ways to create incentives for private land owners and 
managers to support recovery of the northern spotted owl.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: April 20, 2007.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E7-8007 Filed 4-25-07; 8:45 am]