Archive for March, 2013

Action Alerts: Give Two Hoots for Northern Spotted Owls

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
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Spotted Owl PairAs we move into spring and celebrate the blossoming of flowers and return of vibrant life in our region, so too are Northern Spotted Owl pairs beginning their yearly nesting endeavors. This year, owls have some things to be happy about as two major initiatives advance in EPIC’s Spotted Owl Self-defense Campaign.

Hoot One

First, the EPIC petition to list the Northern Spotted Owl under the California Endangered Species Act that was filed last September received a positive evaluation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in February, recommending candidate listing and full status review. The listing petition will now be heard by the California Fish and Game Commission on April 17th, and EPIC will be there to advocate on behalf of the owl. It is now time for the State of California to recognize its duties, and based on the overwhelming evidence, act swiftly to protect the Northern Spotted Owl.

Click here to take Action #1: Contact the California Fish and Game Commission and let them know that you support EPIC’s petition to list the Northern Spotted Owl under the California Endangered Species Act.

Hoot Two

Another major initiative in EPIC’s Spotted Owl Self-defense Campaign is reforming antiquated rules at the California Board of Forestry. On February 6, 2013, EPIC filed a rulemaking petition before the Board of Forestry to remove regulations that have resulted in harm to owls and significant loss of owl habitat. Existing state regulations have allowed intensive logging of spotted owl habitat within known owl territories resulting in the abandonment and loss of hundreds of historic nesting sites. Updating state regulations to reflect the most current scientific and regulatory guidance is necessary to conserve and recover owls and their habitat. In addition, changing existing state regulations will also serve to streamline review and approval of timber harvest plans, and save valuable public resources. Thanks to positive public comments and the participation of EPIC membership, on March 6th the Board voted to accept EPIC’s rulemaking petition and initiate a formal rulemaking process. Now we need the support of EPIC members and the public to ensure that the Board finalizes the rulemaking.

Click here to take Action #2: Contact the Board of Forestry and let them know that you support EPIC’s petition to remove outdated and harmful regulations that damage Northern Spotted Owl habitat


EPIC Vigilance and Legal Action Cancels Harmful Logging Project in the Mad River Watershed – Adios “Nacho Libre”

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
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SPI1-300x231-2Life can be precarious for imperiled species and old trees on an industrial forestry landscape, particularly on lands managed by Green Diamond Resource Company (GDRC) and Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI).  Even though these gigantic, privately-held companies spend massive amounts of capital on marketing schemes and public perception management, they are still teaming up to log old-growth redwoods and harm the few remaining imperiled denizens of the redwood temperate rainforest.

GDRC and SPI plotted, joined forces and filed the “Nacho Libre” timber harvest plan (THP) in late 2012, curiously choosing a name from a Jack Black movie without any explanation or due credit.  Unlike the movie, however, the “Nacho Libre” THP was a cynical attempt at humor that fell flat in the face of ecological reality and clear legal precedent.  The plan proposed to target old-growth trees for removal and to directly harm a breeding pair of Northern Spotted Owls by destroying important habitat within their immediate nesting territory.  EPIC sounded the alarm over the “Nacho Libre” THP earlier this year and mobilized available resources to contest the plan.

The public trust agencies tasked with reviewing this timber harvest plan (the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) all recognized the rare and unique values of this remnant stand of old-growth in a watershed that has been severely and repeatedly logged.  The Department of Forestry and Department of Fish and Wildlife were in agreement that the forest stand was likely “late successional forest” habitat with a substantial old growth component within the meaning of the California Forest Practice Rules.   According to the Water Quality inspection report, old growth redwoods of six to ten feet in diameter were observed in the stand and threatened with felling.  Due to these facts, not only were Northern Spotted Owls in harm’s way, but the structural components of the forest stand are also suitable for the extremely imperiled Marbled Murrelet, a seabird that only nests in old-growth forests.

In the face of this impending threat, on March 18, 2013, EPIC filed a formal letter to GDRC and SPI notifying the companies of violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and requesting that “Nacho Libre” THP be withdrawn immediately.  Under the relevant laws and regulations, the proposed plan would have resulted in illegal “take” of Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets in violation of Section 9 of the ESA.  In clear violation of the law, GDRC and SPI attempted to skirt around disclosure requirements and use an outdated incidental take permit to harm wildlife on the brink of extinction.

The very next day, on March 19, 2013, GDRC and SPI officially withdrew the “Nacho Libre” THP.  Caught in the act, GDRC and SPI had no other choice but to abide by the law, however, the companies reserved the right to re-file the harmful plan, but likely under a different name next time.

Today and during this breeding season, a productive pair of Northern Spotted Owls living up in the Mad River watershed can rest a little easier—for now anyway.  The withdrawal of the “Nacho Libre” THP comes on the heels of another recent victory for owls and murrelets after SPI withdrew the “Hiker’s Parade” THP in the Redwood Creek watershed.  EPIC’s continued vigilance in monitoring and commenting on industrial timber operations is absolutely essential to upholding the law and recovering endangered species.


Statewide Coalition Opposes Caltrans’ Environmentally Damaging Highway-Widening Projects

Thursday, March 21st, 2013
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Northern Calif. Groups Call on Caltrans to Halt Construction on Willits Bypass

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Two-dozen conservation and community organizations are joining together to take on irresponsible and damaging highway-widening projects around the state by the California Department of Transportation. The Caltrans Watch coalition cites wasteful spending, institutionalized disregard of environmental regulations designed to protect natural resources, and a pattern of refusal to address local community concerns. A dozen of the groups are calling on Caltrans to halt construction on the controversial Willits Bypass project in Mendocino County.

“With devastating budget cuts to education, health and social services and the state park system, how can Caltrans squander $350 million on five unnecessary highway widening projects in Northern California, with severe environmental impacts?” asked Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Someone needs to give ’em a brake. Where’s the oversight and accountability to rein in the pervasive problems at Caltrans, like refusal to consider reasonable alternatives to massive highway projects, shoddy environmental review, no transparency, faulty data and disregard for public input?”

“The Willits community is coming to realize what a disaster the Willits Bypass will be for our environment and our town,” said Ellen Drell of the Willits Environmental Center. “The project should be stopped until Caltrans adequately evaluates less damaging alternatives. We want our transportation dollars and construction jobs directed toward locally appropriate infrastructure that doesn’t bankrupt the state, further trash our natural resources or ignore the $300 billion highway maintenance backlog.”

“From the wild canyons of the Smith River, through the redwood parks of Humboldt, to the wetlands headwaters of the Eel River at Willits, Caltrans is running roughshod over the North Coast,” said Natalynne Delapp of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Local communities are trying to engage the agency to develop appropriate transportation solutions, but Caltrans continues to bulldoze us with archaic projects straight out of the 1950s, that benefit only a limited group of economic interests.”

Despite a pending lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging the Willits Bypass — a proposed four-lane freeway to be built through sensitive wetlands around the community of Willits — Caltrans has stated its intention to cut down mature oak forests, remove brush and destroy riparian vegetation along critical salmon streams before the case can be heard in federal court this summer. State Sen. Noreen Evans earlier this month sent a letter to Caltrans echoing community concerns over whether there is a need for a four-lane project, why other alternatives or routes were not seriously examined, and if less environmentally destructive solutions to address local traffic congestion were feasible. For now, protestors and a tree-sitter in the path of Caltrans’ proposed superhighway have prevented tree and vegetation removal.

Background
The Caltrans Watch coalition includes: Alameda Creek Alliance, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Campaign for Sensible Transportation, Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of Coyote Hills Committee, Friends of Del Norte, Friends of the Eel River, Local Ecology and Agriculture Fremont, Mendocino Group of the Sierra Club, Northcoast Environmental Center, Pacificans for Highway One Alternatives, Piercy Watersheds Association, Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment, Save Little Lake Valley, Save Niles Canyon, Save Our Sunol, Save Richardson Grove Coalition, Tri-City Ecology Center and Willits Environmental Center.

Caltrans has consistently refused to consider less expensive and ecologically damaging alternatives to highway widening projects that could accomplish safety and transportation objectives, and has ignored public concerns, input and opposition. The coalition points to half a dozen highway-widening projects being pursued by Caltrans that are not needed to achieve the stated safety or transportation access purposes:

* The $10 million Richardson Grove project to widen and realign Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County, damaging prized old-growth redwoods to supposedly increase access for large commercial trucks;
* The $210 million Highway 101 superhighway the size of Interstate 5 around Willits, not needed for local traffic volumes, requiring the largest wetlands fill permit in Northern California in the past 50 years and running through headwaters of salmon-bearing streams and habitat for endangered plants;
* The $19 million Highway 197/199 widening projects in Del Norte County along the “wild and scenic” Smith River to accommodate oversized commercial trucks, with impacts to old-growth redwood trees;
* The $76 million Niles Canyon highway-widening project in Alameda County, a “safety” project stopped by a citizen lawsuit. Caltrans now admits the widening is not needed and the Federal Highway Administration recently concluded it is not warranted by the state’s safety data. It would have cut 600 riparian trees and added four miles of cement retaining walls and rip-rap along a regionally significant stream for steelhead trout;
* The $50 million Calera Parkway project to double the width of Highway 1 in Pacifica, in San Mateo County, with impacts to endangered frogs and garter snakes.

The coalition supports safe roadways and sensible transportation planning. For each of these projects the organizations have expended considerable effort through the available public review processes to encourage Caltrans to pursue reasonable and effective safety or access upgrades that would avoid needless environmental destruction. These efforts have largely been frustrated by Caltrans’ refusal to even evaluate viable alternatives proposed by the affected communities.

The pattern of flawed decision-making and inadequate environmental review by Caltrans has forced community organizations to resort to litigation as the only remaining avenue to seek redress. The coalition cites systemic problems within Caltrans, beginning with the manner in which transportation infrastructure needs are identified, the proposed solutions to address those needs, incomplete and inadequate review of environmental impacts, and disregard for concerns of local communities.

For more information on the Willits Bypass project (Mendocino County):
Environmental Protection Information Center web page
Save Little Lake Valley
For more information on the Richardson Grove project (Humboldt County):
Save Richardson Grove
Center for Biological Diversity web page
Environmental Protection Information Center web page
For more information on the Smith River project (Del Norte County):
Environmental Protection Information Center web page
For more information on the Niles Canyon project (Alameda County):
Alameda Creek Alliance web page
Save Niles Canyon
For more information on the Calera Parkway project (San Mateo County):
Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives


EPIC Spring Gala featuring Petunia and the Vipers & Sour Mash Hug Band

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
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Saturday April 13, 2013 at the Arcata Community Center.

This second annual event promises to please, with two great knee-slapping dance bands, gourmet comfort-food dinner, silent art auction, specialty cocktails, the ever-delightful Humboldt Fire Girls serving it all up, along with fire dance performances by Circus of the Elements and more. The Arcata Community Center is where all the fun and magic will take place and is once again being transformed, this time taking you back to the good-ole days of the classic Americana Era.

PetuniaPetunia and the Vipers is roots Americana music at it’s best, blending sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rock and roll and bluegrass. “Road dogs Petunia and the Vipers play upbeat, hillbilly honky tonk that sounds like it took at least a 70-year time machine voyage from its birthplace to your ears. Taking traditional country sounds — the Vipers present a knowing sendup of their legendary influences and translate them into a boot-tapping live experience that’s anything but dated. They brings the hootenanny.“–Andrew Goff, North Coast Journal

Sour Mash Leah picture with Laura and AaronSour Mash Hug Band is a modern day Jug band with a twist! “Sour Mash Band evokes an era that never quite existed. Paris in the 30s, Harlem in the 20s, New Orleans in the 90s, its hard to say. An irresistible mix of old-time, gypsy, bluegrass, jazz, Irish, and ragtime.” –The San Francisco Chronicle

The evening begins at 6pm with specialty cocktails, delicious hors d’oeuvres, followed by a gourmet dinner served to your table by the Humboldt Fire Girls!

Dinner includes a drink of your choice, a New Orleans style feast with a delicious Andouille Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya, Braised Collard Greens, Corn Bread Muffins, Organic Salad, and more. A vegetarian option is available and all dinners are gluten free. Desserts to be announced!

In order to provide a quality dinner experience for our guests, there is limited reserved seating only.  Individual tickets for dinner and the music show are $40, or you may reserve an entire table of eight for you and seven of your friends for $300.

Purchase your advanced reservations for dinner and the music show here. Tickets purchased before April 5th are $40.00, and thereafter are $45.00. Reserve a table for eight for $300.

Doors open for the concert at 8pm, with beer, wine & cocktails being served by the Humboldt Fire Girls as well as special guest dance performers. Tickets are $15 in advance for general admission, $20 at the door.

Purchase your advance sale tickets to the music show here.

Specialty cocktails such include the Whiskey Corpse Reviver, Good Ole Margarita, Vodka Lavender Lemonade and the Dark & Stormy, along with local beer and wine available throughout the evening.

Tickets may be purchased in person at Wildberries Marketplace, Redway Liquor, or at the EPIC Office (145 G Street Arcata) and online at wildcalifornia.org.

All proceeds from the evening benefit the Environmental Protection Information Center-EPIC.  EPIC works to restore and protect ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries, and endangered species in Northwest California. For more information please contact EPIC at 707-822-7711.

EPIC Gala Fire SpinningThank you to Circus of the Elements, a DreamMaker Project of The Ink People for sponsoring the event!


Act Now to Stop Destructive Post-Fire “Salvage” Logging on the Mendocino National Forest

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
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Dozerline backburn on the Southern end of Mill fire.  Credit Reuben/Feather River Hotshots

Dozerline backburn on the Southern end of Mill fire. Credit Reuben/Feather River Hotshots

Mill Fire Project

Update 3/14/13

The Mendocino National Forest has released an Environmental Analysis for post-fire logging on 985 acres in the Mill fire area, outside of the town of Stonyford.  Public comment is due by March 25thPlease Act Now to stand up for forests, wildlife and watersheds.

Although a vast majority of the forest marked as timber sale units actually burned at moderate and low severity, with many live trees remaining within these stands, the agency claims the stands are in a “deforested condition” and are not functioning “normally.”  This claim is used to justify removing most of the trees in the units, including live green trees, totaling nearly 1000 acres of ecologically unnecessary post-fire salvage logging.

The Emergency Situation Determination (ESD) that the Mendocino planners are seeking streamlines environmental review, reduces public recourse, and would allow logging to begin immediately after a Decision by the Forest Supervisor despite an appeal or pending lawsuit. Now is the time for the public to speak up and voice their opposition to this undemocratic decision making process.

It is clear that timber volume is driving this project running over ecology and the best available science.  One statement made in the ESD letter after land managers met with timber industry representatives:  “It was concluded that the sale would need to contain enough volume to cover move in move out costs of logging operations as well as high haul cost from this remote area of the forest.”

The project is within the Blue Slides Late Successional Reserve (LSR). The reserves are set aside to preserve old growth forest and species like the Northern Spotted Owl that depend on big old trees for survival. Damaged and dead trees (snags) are important structural components of late-successional forests and are key habitat for numerous species. They provide forage, cavities for nesting and protection, perch sites, and den sites. Large snags are considered to be one of the distinctive features of an old-growth forest.

Fire and tree mortality are natural elements in a forest ecosystem.  Logging of large snags does not contribute to recovery of forest habitat; in fact, the only activity more antithetical to the recovery process would be removal of surviving green trees from burned sites, which the Mendocino timber planners are proposing to do in this project. Much of the area is already naturally regenerating.  Logging with ground based equipment such as tractors and bulldozers on fragile soils will inhibit and kill natural growth.

Post-fire landscapes and snag forests are alive and vibrant. They are more biologically diverse than unburned forest, and provide for an array of plant and animal species. Post-fire landscapes are considered to be one of the most rare, endangered, and ecologically important forest habitat types in western U.S. forests, and the stand-transforming fires that create this habitat are not damaging the forest ecosystem. Rather, they are advancing ecological restoration.

Act now to protect your public lands!  Please ask Mendocino National Forest to cancel destructive post-fire logging within the Blue Slides LSR.

Update 1/8/13

The Mendocino National Forest is proposing to streamline more than 250 acres of post-fire logging.  The 30,000 acre Mill Fire burned outside the town of Stoneyford and within the Blue Slides Late Successional Reserve (LSR).  The reserves are set aside to preserve old growth forest and the species that depend on big old trees for survival.

A majority of these forest stands had a moderate severity burn with many green trees unaffected.  In fact, less than 10% of the fire area burned at high severity.  Much of the area is already naturally regenerating.

Mendocino National Forest planners are seeking to undermine and ignore meaningful environmental analysis, and declare an “emergency” that would allow logging to begin immediately after a decision by the Forest Supervisor despite an appeal or pending lawsuit.

Please ask Mendocino National Forest Supervisor and timber planners to cancel destructive post fire logging within the Blue Slides LSR.

 

North Pass Fire Project

Update 3/14/13: You made a difference!

A step in the right direction.

The North Pass post-fire logging project was recently rescinded due to serious watershed concerns.  The canceled 900-acre project area was proposed within the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River, a key watershed that is critical for salmon recovery.  This watershed is also listed as being “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.

Due to the destructive effects of logging activities on fragile post-fire soils, in combination with the documented negative effects from the fire suppression activities such as “backburns” or “burnouts,” along with the excessive firelines created by bulldozers, the proposed salvage-logging project was predicted to increase sediment and disturb soils to an unacceptable level.  In short, it would have choked streams and harmed Steelhead trout and Salmon.

Mendocino land managers also received a flood of concerns from EPIC’s last Action Alert.  Thanks to all of you who took action! Your taking action makes a difference in protecting your public lands!

While it is not clear that land managers will totally abandon the idea of logging the fire area, they have indicated that future plans may be significantly reduced to focus on roadside cutting.

Your actions make a difference—take action on the Mill Fire salvage-logging project today! 


Update  3/7/13: Thanks to your participation, this proposal has been withdrawn.

The Mendocino National Forest is proposing two post-fire logging sales.  One is the Mill Fire project detailed above and the other is the North Pass Fire “Salvage” logging timber sale.

According to the September 25, 2012 Burned Area Report for the North Pass Fire lasted for 24 days and burned 31,050 acres on the Mendocino National Forest of which 21,693 acres were low severity, 8502 acres were moderate and only 855 acres burned at high severity (<3% of the fire area).  The Forest Service’s fire supression tactics created 46 miles of fireline and 79.35 miles of National Forest roads utilized during fire suppression efforts.

The proposed project would tractor and cable log within snag forest habitat on approximately 300 acres of Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat within Matrix and Riparian Reserve allocations and would subsequently damage natural regeneration and establish highly flammable plantations.  The project is within the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River Tier 1 Key Watershed.  The project proposes- to construct .5 miles of new “temporary” road, 3 miles of road maintenance and log hauling.

Please  let the Mendocino NF know that you value post-fire habitat, and ask them to stop ill-conceived plans to clearcut our forests.


Green Diamond and SPI Team Up to Log Old Growth Redwood and Harm Spotted Owls

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
By
SPI Clearcut

SPI Clearcut

It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows.  However, in the instance of the timber industry on the North Coast of California, it is not surprising to our team at EPIC to find Green Diamond Resource Company and Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), two of the state’s worst industrial timber sector actors, joining forces to destroy old growth redwoods and harm native species.  Despite all the green-washing rhetoric spewing from the public relations and perception management departments of each company, both are revealing their true nature as they hold hands conspiring to violate the law and harm spotted owls and native forests in the recently filed “Nacho Libre” THP.

Timber Harvest Plan (THP) 1-12-114HUM “Nacho Libre” was recently filed jointly by SPI and Green Diamond.  The property is located in the Cannon Creek state planning watersheds high up in the Mad River basin.  SPI owns the land, but Green Diamond recently bought the timber rights.  The THP covers 87.4 total acres, including 58.8 acres of proposed clearcutting.

Of particular concern is Unit A of the plan, a proposed 38.1-acre clearcut threatening to eliminate a Northern Spotted Owl activity center.  Spotted owl activity center HUM0301 “Freeman” is contained within this unit.  This owl site has been active since the early 90’s with several nesting trees located in the clearcut unit. While the individual nest trees will be left, the rest of the unit is to be clearcut, which will result in “take” of spotted owls as admitted in the THP itself.

How is this possible, you ask?  The answer is quite insidious.  Since Green Diamond bought the timber rights to the unit, they and SPI are claiming that the Green Diamond Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) can be employed in order to invoke the company’s Incidental Take Permit (ITP), thus allowing the companies to “take” the owl site.  Activity center HUM0301 “Freeman” to this point has been protected from outright “take” by SPI, as SPI has never complied with federal law to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for their extensive properties in California.  Now, SPI intends to use Green Diamond’s ITP to drive the birds from its property.

If this weren’t bad enough, a pre-harvest inspection conducted by CAL FIRE discovered that Green Diamond and SPI hid the fact that there is a substantial old growth component to the unit.  In fact, CAL FIRE indicates that the unit in question likely qualifies as “Late Successional Forest” under the Forest Practice Rules definition.  It also turns out that the unit may provide suitable Marbled Murrelet habitat in addition to providing essential habitat for Northern Spotted Owls.

Logging of old growth and “taking” Northern Spotted Owls is completely contrary to the public statements made by Green Diamond indicating that the company would not log old growth and that they are committed to maintaining owls on the landscape.  Furthermore, teaming up with the likes of SPI further damages the public credibility of Green Diamond and shows the true “profit by any means necessary” philosophy of both companies.

EPIC staff will continue to monitor the progress of the “Nacho Libre” THP as a key element of our work to expose the green-wash hypocrisy and underhandedness of Green Diamond and SPI’s behavior. Stay tuned for more updates as we involve our members in protecting wild forests and endangered species on the North Coast of California.


EPIC Spotted Owl Rulemaking Petition Advances at the Board of Forestry

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
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NSO self defenseEPIC’s rulemaking petition to the Board of Forestry aimed at deleting Forest Practice Rules that are harmful to Northern Spotted Owls was heard on March 6, 2013 in Sacramento, resulting in a favorable vote accepting the petition. The acceptance of EPIC’s petition is a large step forward for the Board, and for the protection of Northern Spotted Owls in California.

EPIC staff was afforded 20 minutes to state our case before the Board, followed by an extensive question and answer session. After the EPIC presentation, the Board asked to hear from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).  Much to our surprise, CAL FIRE reiterated many of the points we made, and stated that they believed the entire rule section pertaining to Northern Spotted Owl should be revised in addition to deleting the infamous subsection “option g.”

After hearing from CAL FIRE, the Board then heard public comment on the petition.  Not surprisingly, there was some opposition from the industry.  However this opposition seemed to be a matter of principle rather than true concern over the technical merits of the petition. 

The Board then held a discussion of the rulemaking petition. After this discussion, a motion was made to accept EPIC’s petition and to initiate the formal rulemaking process.  An amendment was offered to the motion that would require the entire Rule section pertaining to spotted owls to be remanded to the Forest Practice Committee for a complete overhaul.  The Board adopted the motion by a vote of 4-3.  Not surprisingly both industry representatives currently seated on the Board voted against the motion.  However, other members surprised us with their favorable votes. 

EPIC’s petition will now be converted by the Board into a formal 45-day notice of proposed rulemaking, with the intent to adopt the changes after the notice period.  There will be another hearing on the rulemaking petition after the 45-day notice is issued and expires.

EPIC’s attempt to improve Forest Practice Rules related to the protection of spotted owls is occurring with the back-story of the EPIC California Endangered Species Act (CESA) petition to list the species under the state law.  The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended that the Fish and Game Commission accept this petition and initiate a full status review for spotted owls in California.  The potential listing of spotted owls under CESA will have wide-ranging implications for the Board of Forestry as it navigates the process of updating and improving existing Forest Practice Rules to provide for greater protections of indicator species like the Northern Spotted Owl. It is crucial to remember the conservation strategy behind pursuing protection for spotted owls—as an indicator species for forest ecosystem health, protections for the Northern Spotted Owl will result in improvements for the forest ecosystem as a whole.

The acceptance of EPIC’s petition to delete “option g” is a large step forward for the Board, and for the protection of Northern Spotted Owls in California.  Deletion of antiquated and harmful Forest Practice Rules will help improve conditions on the ground for the species, and will contribute to moving the argument away from permitting and regulating harm to the species, and instead toward forward looking mechanisms for recovery.