Timber Project OK, Despite Spotted Owl Concern

Environmentalists failed to convince a federal appeals court this week that lumber thinning in Six Rivers National Forest would harm the threatened Northern spotted owl.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld government findings Tuesday that a timber thinning and fuel reduction project “may” but was “not likely” to adversely affect the owl.

The Conservation Congress sued the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 arguing the timber project in Northern California’s TrinityCounty would violate the Endangered Species Act.

The appeals court held the two government agencies did not violate the consultation requirements of the law and did consider allegedly “new information” covered by the 2011 recovery plan for the owls.

Populations of the owl have continued to decline since 1990 and federal recovery plans were issued in 2008 and again in 2011.

The Conservation Congress argued that while the Forest Service considered the long term benefits of the Beaverslide Project on the owl, if failed to take into account the short-term effects.

“We are unpersuaded that the Forest Service failed to consider any of the allegedly new information covered by the 2011 Recovery Plan,” said Judge Sidney Thomas for the panel.

Joining Thomas were Judges Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Margaret McKeown.
Case:  Conservation Congress v. Finley, No. 12-16916



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