Monday, December 17, 2012

Feds: Mexican owl recovery could cost $42M by 2022

The federal government estimates it will cost more than $42 million over the next decade to help get the Mexican spotted owl off the national list of threatened species. The estimate is included in a new recovery plan for the owl that was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday. The plan calls for a combination of more research and management that focuses on limiting the biggest threat: wildfires that burn hot enough to wipe out entire stands of trees. Part of that management could include thinning projects to prevent more severe wildfires in owl habitat, and that has environmentalists concerned. ``The problem with this revised recovery plan is that it's got nearly no strong protections for the owl and gives the U.S. Forest Service a pass on the thinning and logging. It's fire hysteria rather than sound science,'' said Bryan Bird of the Santa Fe-based group WildEarth Guardians. Federal officials argued the plan is based on the best available science. ``Areas currently occupied by owls require the greatest protection to ensure continued occupancy, reproduction and survival. By no means, however, does this translate to a hands-off approach,'' the plan states. ``In some cases, protection of these areas requires active intervention.''...more

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