Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office
California and Nevada Region
Northern Spotted Owl on Private Lands

If you are unable to access any of the information contained on our site, please contact us. Your request will be referred to the appropriate program for assistance. Please indicate the nature of the accessibility need, your preferred format (electronic format, print, etc.) the web address of the requested material, and your full contact information so we can reach you if questions arise while fulfilling your request.

Our contact mailing address:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office
1829 S. Oregon Street
Yreka, California 96097
Phone: 530-842-5763
Fax: 530-842-4517
Email: yreka@fws.gov

The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which was enacted in 1994 and focused on management of Federal lands, provided no explicit direction for management of northern spotted owls (NSO) or other wildlife on non-Federal lands. Earlier, the Interagency Scientific Committee and the draft Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan gave only general recommendations for management of NSO on non-Federal lands. Consequently, the only Federal regulatory authority regarding NSO on private lands derives from Section 9 of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which prohibits take of listed species without special authorizations.
Northern Spotted Owl
1,413 NSO sites (about 58 percent of the state’s population) verified as extant from 1990-1999 were located on state or privately owned timber lands in California. Most of these private land sites are on industrial timberlands in the coastal counties of northwestern California, which have been managed for timber production for many decades. Lower numbers of NSO sites are also found on private lands in the drier interior counties of northern California, usually in association with nearby Federal forest land.

Sections 919.9 and 939.9 of the California Forest Practice Rules (FPRs), which govern timber harvest on private lands in the state, provide that no Timber Harvesting Plan (THP) can be approved if it is likely to result in take of federally-listed species, unless authorized by a federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). In 1990, concurrent with the Federal listing of the northern spotted owl, the FPRs were amended to establish protections that would result in the take of NSOs unlikely. These measures require surveys for NSOs in suitable habitat, and retention of specified amounts of habitat near activity centers and within radii of 0.7 miles and 1.3 miles around activity centers.

From 1990 until 1999, the California Dept. of Fish and Game reviewed over 5,000 THPs within the range of the NSO to ensure that take was not likely to occur. In 1999, at the request of the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service took over the review of proposed THPs. This review is carried out by the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office and the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office.

The Service also provides technical assistance for timberland owners preparing voluntary spotted owl management plans (SOMPs) designed to guide the planning and implementation of THPs in a manner that avoids the likelihood of unauthorized incidental take. After review, the Service concurs with these management plans in advance of project planning, reducing the need for review of individual THPs. Within the range of the northern spotted owl in California, seven industrial timber companies, totaling 651,250 acres, have developed these agreements.

The Service has also approved three Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) authorizing incidental take of NSOs on private timberlands in California. All three (Simpson Timber Co., Pacific Lumber Company, and Regli Estate, totaling over 650,000 acres) are in the coastal redwood zone, and are administered by the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office.

Forest Resources Main
Last updated: October 16, 2008