Feds File To Dissolve Mexican Spotted Owl Habitat Ruling

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Sunday, December 29, 2019 - 3:49pm

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A pair of Mexican spotted owl fledglings
Apache Sitgreaves National Forest
A pair of Mexican spotted owl fledglings.

Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to dissolve a prior court ruling against forest activities that threaten habitat for the Mexican spotted owl.

If a judge agrees, so-called “timber management activities” would be allowed to resume in five national forests in New Mexico and the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

Those actions include such things as cutting down Christmas trees, gathering wood for heating and controlled burns.

In a release issued Friday by the U.S. Forest Service, Regional Forester Cal Joyner said, “As promised, we have focused on meeting our consultation responsibilities under the Court’s Order as quickly as possible, as we are fully committed to continuing efforts for the recovery of the Mexican spotted owl. We’re encouraged and grateful for the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and for the sustained support of our partners and communities across the region and we are hopeful that these filings will lead to quick relief to the communities affected by the court-ordered injunction.”

But John Horning, with WildEarth Guardians which won the injunction in September, told the Albuquerque Journal, “The judge already told the Forest Service that failing to commit to long-term, range-wide population monitoring is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. We hope the judge rejects these plans and that the Forest Service goes back to the drawing board and, once and for all, takes care of the owl and its forest habitat by monitoring spotted owls.”

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