This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Help the Spotted Owl

LIKE A PURPOSELESS DULL HEADACHE, OR TEN DAYS OF RAIN, The exit of the Bush Administration seems infinitely, torturously slow. Is there any thing they touch that doesn't turn to dog dirt? Is every single thing they do influenced by their fraternal connections to big business and war profiteers, and deveil take the hindmost? As Charlie Brown used to wonder when trying to kick a field goal, and Lucy would always pull the ball away at the last second, "How long, O Lord, how long?"

Their evil ways spreads from the high to the low, from the international to the parochial. Take the recovery of the Spotted Owl in the Pacific Northwest. The biggest problem with the Spotted Owl, in the eyes of the Bush Administration, is that it stands in the way of the clear-cutting the logging industry is so fond of. Therefore the recovery plan for this diminutive bird teetering at the edge of extinction has been withdrawn, a new 'committee' installed to write a new plan, and guess what? The committe is made up of people with ties to the logging industry, rather than scientists and environmentalists.

Urrrgh. I really can't wait for these people to just go away, and shame on Congress for not running them out of town on a rail. When the Founding Fathers wrote that stuff in about impeachment, it is hard to believe they had anyone in mind other than Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, et al. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, have died because of these people. Less reported (not that this fact is over-reported, by any means, certainly not to the extent of Paris's comings and goings) is the almost hourly assaults upon the environment and wildlife that began the minute these blackguards took office. But thanks to the internet, environmentalists are able to rally their forces instantly, and if enough of us speak out, the shameful activity of the Bush Administration is exposed and, at least temporarily, withdrawn.

Anyway, here is the story on the Spotted Owl, from Defenders of Wildlife, an organization I am proud to be a member of. PLEASE take a minute and send your comments to the Fish and Wildlife (just follow the links below.)
Can't read the message below? View it online now instead...

This plan won’t cut it

The draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl is the product of inappropriate and excessive interference from political appointees who have no background in owl management.

Only the timber industry stands to benefit from the Bush/Cheney Administration's “recovery plan.”

We just have a few days to act. Tell officials at the Fish & Wildlife Service that this plan just won’t cut it. Help us reach our goal of 25,000 comments by the Friday deadline!

Help spread the word. Forward this message on to others in the area who care about scientifically sound wildlife management...

Dear Joe,

The northern spotted owl is in big trouble. The Bush/Cheney Administration’s disingenuous draft “recovery plan” threatens to undermine years of progress in protecting these owls and the old growth forests they need to survive.

Tell officials to go back to the drawing board and develop an effective science-based recovery plan that protects northern spotted owls -- not just timber companies.

From the current draft plan, it is clear that:

The Bush/Cheney Administration and the timber industry are in cahoots to weaken habitat protections and increase logging in the public forests where these owls live.
The draft “recovery plan” as it stands now will destroy old growth forest networks -- the backbone of an effective conservation strategy for the northern spotted owl and many other species that depend on these forests to survive.
The Bush/Cheney Administration continues to put politics before science.
Old growth forests once dominated the Pacific Northwest, but decades of logging have left them drastically reduced and forced endangered northern spotted owls out of vital habitat.

Dwindling by almost 4% per year, the northern spotted owl is at risk of declining to the point that the species would need to be "uplisted" from threatened to endangered. Some scientists believe there may be as few as 3,000 pairs left.

In early 2006, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service created the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Team, a broad coalition of scientists and other experts from state and federal agencies and local stakeholder groups, to develop a recovery plan for these beleaguered birds.

But in what amounted to top-level political interference, a Washington, DC “oversight committee,” consisting of high-ranking officials from the Bush/Cheney Administration rejected the science-based plan put forth by the Recovery Team in favor of a plan that put timber interests first.

Let officials know that we won’t stand for political interference when it comes to endangered species and habitat recovery.

The so-called oversight committee ordered the recovery team to stop work on development of their conservation approach and develop a second approach that would allow federal agencies to decide where to place chunks of owl habitat ad hoc and without accountability in order to maximize timber profits.

The “recovery plan” that emerged would set back nearly 20 years of progress for both the northern spotted owl and the old growth forests they depend on for survival.

Science should govern wildlife management, not greed and politics. Urge officials at the Fish & Wildlife Service to withdraw the politicized draft recovery plan and reconvene the Recovery Team to draft a new plan based on real science.

We have just days to act, but there’s still time to save northern spotted owls and the hundreds of other creatures that depend on these ancient forests to survive. The deadline for comments on the draft “recovery plan” is this Friday, August 24th, so please take a stand for the northern spotted owl and against political corruption today.

Thank you for being there for wildlife when they need us most.


Gina LaRocco
Conservation Program Associate
Defenders of Wildlife

Fast Facts about the Northern Spotted Owl and Old-growth Forests:

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service should withdraw the politicized draft recovery plan and reconvene the Recovery Team to draft a new plan based on scientific findings.
This is a flagrant attempt by the Bush/Cheney Administration to allow accelerated and unsustainable logging on federal lands at the expense of the spotted owl and other wildlife that depend on these forests.

Spotted owl numbers are declining more rapidly than anticipated when the federal government added them to the endangered species list in 1990. Given the continuing stresses and threats to this species, the northern spotted owl needs more old growth forest protection, not less.

The Bush/Cheney Administration ignored repeated requests for a thorough peer review on the habitat provisions in the plan prior to its public release.
Decisions related to the recovery of a species should not be subject to high level political interference as was the case with several plans, including the draft plan for the northern spotted owl.

Protection of old growth forests not only supports northern spotted owl recovery, it supports the recovery of many other at-risk species.

© Copyright 2007 Defenders of Wildlife.

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities.

Defenders of Wildlife can be contacted at:
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036


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