The Northern Spotted Owl, which has been listed as a “threatened” species (not endangered) since 1990 under the Endangered Species Act, finds itself back in court, the subject of several lawsuits filed against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) by both preservationist groups and timber industry interest, over the proposed development concerning critical habitat acreage designed for the Owl’s protection. Critical habitat acreage designation for the owl has hovered around 6.8 million acres of federal land, not including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and congressionally designated Wilderness areas where logging is largely prohibited, since the original USFWS designation in 1992. in January, the USFWS ruling published in the Federal Register eliminated 3.472 million acres of federal land from the owl’s critical habitat designation in Washington, Oregon and California counties — an amount that was increased from 204,000 acres in 15 Oregon counties in a preliminary proposal by USFWS in 2020. The USFWS has recently postponed the implementation of its ruling and is seeking further public comment but the various lawsuits remain in place until the USFWS makes its final decision.
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Spotted Owl Back In Court