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EPIC to Sue to Protect Owls from Federal Logging Project

Northern spotted owl. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Northern spotted owl. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

EPIC, together with the Klamath Forest Alliance, Conservation Congress, We Advocate Through Environmental Review, and Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, have provided formal notice to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service of our intent to sue for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) stemming from the South Fork Sacramento Project, a timber sale issued by the Forest Service in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 

The project would take place near Lake Siskiyou, approximately three miles west of Mount Shasta City, California. Over 8,000 acres of logging activities using various prescriptions and methods within occupied “activity centers” utilized by northern spotted owls are proposed. Logging activities are projected to “take” — meaning “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, or kill” — 12 spotted owls, the two currently active nest sites, and their progeny into the future.  

The northern spotted owl is in persistent and steepening decline, and is listed as threatened under the ESA. Scientists have warned that if these trends continue, the spotted owl may go extinct across large swaths of its historic range within the next decade. Despite these alarming conditions, the Forest Service continues to log spotted owl habitat, resulting in the taking of owls. The Fish & Wildlife Service has an obligation to intervene where a government action may “jeopardize the continued existence” of a listed species, and we allege that the agency violated the ESA by issuing an incidental take statement and “no jeopardy” opinion and authorizing the Forest Service to complete the project. Through our litigation, we aim to challenge that no jeopardy opinion. 

The conservation groups are represented by Oliver Stiefel and Meriel Darzen of the Crag Law Center. The Fish & Wildlife Service has 60 days to correct the aggrieved actions, after which the groups will file suit.


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