Thursday, December 10, 2015

Spotted Owls Still Losing Ground In Northwest Forests

Northern spotted owl numbers are declining across the Northwest, and the primary reason is the spread of the barred owl, according to a new analysis published Wednesday. Federal scientists have been keeping tabs on spotted owls for more than 20 years now. “We have a lot of data that suggests that they’re in real trouble,” said study co-author Eric Forsman, a retired U.S. Forest Service biologist. The research looked at the decline of the threatened owls through three lenses: climate change, habitat and barred owls. The impact of climate is inconclusive. Habitat loss proved to be less of a factor than in the past, because there’s been no significant declines in the past 20 years. “Habitat is very important. We all know that,” Forsman said. “But when barred owls show up it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference how much habitat you have. They’re still causing the population to decline.” Washington has seen the sharpest decline in spotted owls – between a 55 percent and 77 percent loss. Forsman said the barred owl invasion happened north to south, meaning that they expanded in that state first. But now, Oregon and California are beginning to catch up...more

Please recall the job loss and economic devastation suffered by the rural communities in the Pacific northwest, all to protect the spotted owl.  Now comes another owl and it was all for naught.  If folks say the ESA is working, remind them of the following:

Between 1988 and 1998, the number of lumber and plywood mills in Oregon declined by nearly half, from 252 to 127. Twenty mills closed in Douglas County alone, according to timber consultant Paul Ehinger of Eugene. Some 2,800 jobs in the wood-products industry in Douglas County vanished within two years of the owl being listed.

More than half of the 60,000 Oregon workers who held jobs in the wood-products industry at the beginning of the 1990s no longer had them by 1998, according to a report published in the Journal of Forestry in 2003.

By the end of the decade, nearly half of those who left the timber industry disappeared from state employment records. The missing workers were likely either retired, unemployed or living in another state.

Jim Geisinger, the (Douglas Timber Operators) executive director from 1976 to 1981 and now the executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers, said that in the early ’80s, the Umpqua National Forest sold 360 million board feet a year.

“Today, Umpqua National Forest is selling only about 10 percent of that,” he said.


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