Northern Spotted Owl

mere mention of the creatures name brings shudders to loggers and some local
inhabitants, fear over its existence has incited rallies, garnered the attention
of three government agencies, and caused people to tie themselves to trees. On
April 2, 1993, President Bill Clinton embarked on a quest to settle a
long-standing battle. The environmentalists on one side, and their attempts to
protect natural resources, and the timber industrys desire for the same on
the other. Unemployment and economic devastation was said to surely follow, due
to the loss of timber industry jobs. No trees were allowed to be cut within 70
acres of The Northern Spotted Owls nest. Other laws protected trees in a
2,000-acre circle around the birds. Listed as “threatened” under the
Endangered Species Act, the Northern Spotted Owl has inadvertently landed in the
in middle of the complicated debate over logging in the Pacific Northwest. Under
the Act, logging of many old-growth forests has been suspended to protect the
bird and its remaining habitat. Survival of the Northern Spotted Owl The
Northern Spotted Owl can only live in old growth environment, it is considered
an “indicator species”: The health of the Northern Spotted Owl population
indicates the health of the old-growth forest ecosystem. An individual Northern
Spotted Owl needs more than 3,000 acres of old growth to survive, because of its
scarce food supply. The Northern Spotted Owl is found in the cool, moist
woodlands on the Pacific Northwest. The habitat of the Northern Spotted Owl can
be described as trees relatively large in diameter in the stand, multi-layered
canopy, large tall live trees with cavities, broken tops, mistletoe, or
platforms of branches capable of holding accumulated organic matter suitable for
use as a nest, dead standing trees and fallen decayed trees to support abundant
populations of prey species, especially northern flying squirrels and woodrats.

The Timber Industry In May 1991, Federal District Judge William Dwyer issued a
landmark decision finding that the Forest Service had violated the National
Forest Management Act by failing to implement an acceptable management plan for
the northern spotted owl. His decision forbade timber sales across the spotted
owl region until the Forest Service implemented an acceptable plan. An
injunction blocking timber sales in Northern Spotted Owl habitat affected 17
national forests in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. The consequences
for the rural economy in many areas of the Pacific Northwest were devastating.

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As many as 135 mills were closed, pushing unemployment up to 25 percent in some
small communities. The mill closings affected cutters, loggers, and truck
drivers, including other businesses that provided services to them were also out
of work. Conclusion It makes sense that wildlife needs a healthy forest in order
to survive. Wildlife, however, also plays an important role in maintaining a
forest’s health. Clearcutting is ecologically unsound because it destroys a
complex ecosystem and endangers many of the species that rely on it. Managing
forest habitats for owls also provides many other wildlife species with places
to live. Because it is such a stable and unique community, it provides a habitat
for many organisms that are only found there. Old growth forests are also
valuable in the maintenance of watersheds. Without the ground cover and
extensive root systems associated with old growth, water runs off steep
hillsides much more rapidly and causes extensive erosion. Many streams in old
growth forests are important for fish spawning, and the excess sediment loads
can completely destroy spawning areas. Some species of salmon are now seriously
endangered, primarily as a result of excessive logging activity. Another value
that is a little less tangible has to be experienced to be appreciated. Just
walking into an old growth forest causes most people to catch their breath and
they feel as if they have entered a cathedral. It’s easy to feel that you are
the only person on earth as you walk beneath the silent mammoths towering above.

Knowing that the trees you are looking at could be 2,000 years old makes you
feel insignificant. Economic setbacks due to saving complex echo systems and
endangered species is a small price to pay. If we continue to focus on quantity
rather then quality, we will exhaust the earths environment. At this point we
have caused extensive damage to the environment, plants and animals due to greed
and commercialism it is certainly time to pay our share.

Des Jardins, J. (1997) Environmental Ethics Power, T. (1995) Economic
Well-Being And Environmental Protection a report By 60 Northwest Economists,
Reviewed by George McKinley Sweet Home hard hit by


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