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Critical habitat for spotted owl still vulnerable, groups say

Big Dipper 2

Dozens of prominent environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth are asking President Obama for help protecting old-growth forests in the northwest.

Steve Holmer, with the American Bird Conservancy, says a new rule designating critical habitat for the northern spotted owl has loopholes.

“The current proposal, we believe, does designate enough area to protect the northern spotted owl. But at the same time, it proposes some very lax logging rules that go along with these areas. So we're really kind of unclear how much protection it really provides,” Holmer says.

He says it’s not scientifically proven that the habitat can be logged without disturbing the spotted owls, which were listed as threatened under the endangered species act in 1990.

The groups have sent the President a letter asking for clarification and want anyone else concerned to do the same.

The comment period on the rule ends tomorrow.

After analysis, it’s expected to take effect in November.

It would cover millions of acres of public and privately owned forests in Washington, Oregon and California.

The two most critical threats to the northern spotted owl have been identified as dwindling habitat and competition for prey from its more aggressive cousins, the barred owl.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to