California: Industry written amendment helps eliminate state’s endangered species protections

California is on the brink of allowing commercial interests to hamstring California’s endangered species protections. A proposed amendment to the California Forest Practice Rules would eliminate the requirement for a state employed biologist to oversee Timber Harvest Plans. Instead, the amended language would allow a “spotted owl expert” to assess the risks to spotted owls, but this “expert” need not be unbiased and could even work for the timber companies themselves!

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The proposed rule changes would also eliminate the requirement that the Department of Fish and Game review Timber Harvest Plans before they are approved. The claim that the proposed amendments are necessary due to fiscal restrictions and tight budgets sets a dangerous precedent for the future protection of imperiled species. California supports a large variety of ecosystems and numerous at-risk wildlife.

Allowing the California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to eliminate the requirement for unbiased state-employed biologist oversight means none of these habitats or animals are safe from exploitation.

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Comments (1)

Write a LetterMay 3rd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Dear Epic Alerts Member,

There are fewer than 560 pairs of northern spotted owls left in the old-growth forests of northern California.

Meanwhile, the California Board of Forestry is considering a proposal that could put the timber industry in charge of determining where these owls live.

That’s like letting the fox guard the proverbial hen house!
Help us send a strong message to officials at the Board of Forestry that Californians won’t stand for pandering to the timber industry at the expense of imperiled northern spotted owls!

You can view the proposed rules at the Board of Forestry’s website. To take action now, click here! Or write and email to Christopher Zinney at the Board of Forestry, here.

Under current rules, logging is allowed within 500 feet of an active nest. Not even a single acre of habitat needs to be retained outside of this core area. This does not provide adequate space for the threatened NSO to recover from decades of liquidation logging.

The Board of Forestry’s proposal eliminates a key requirement that state-employed biologists conduct detailed analysis to determine whether planned timber harvests would put these rare spotted owls at greater risk.

This requirement is a vital check and balance that helps ensure the proper steps are taken to prevent unnecessary strain on this fragile species and the ancient forests they need to survive.

This proposal was originally floated by Big Timber’s lobbying group — and now state officials are poised to make the timber industry’s dream of loosely regulated logging a reality.

Please weigh in on this ill-conceived plan and urge the Board of Forestry to conduct proper scientific review before allowing timber companies to operate in California’s oldest forests.

We can’t let our state officials get away with shirking their obligation to protect struggling wildlife in order to appease the timber industry.

The deadline for public comments is coming up on Tuesday, May 5th. To take action now, click here!

Please take action now to ask state officials to protect imperiled northern spotted owls for generations to come.

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Please write me an email, with questions and comments, or to hear about volunteer opportunities. Also, please consider making an online donation to support EPIC’s ongoing work to protect Northwest California’s ecosystems.

Thanks for using your voice to protect our feathered friends in California.

For the Wild,

Kerul Dyer, Outreach Director for EPIC

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