"PORTLAND, Ore. — Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to preserve protections for 3.4 million acres (1.4 million hectares) of northern spotted owl habitat from the US-Canada border to northern California, the latest salvo in a legal battle over logging in federal old-growth forests that are key nesting grounds for the imperiled species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut the amount of protected federal old-growth forest by one-third in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration, a move that was cheered by the timber industry. Democratic lawmakers called the reduction in logging protections “potential scientific meddling” and called for an investigation.
President Joe Biden’s administration has since temporarily delayed putting those new rules into effect in order to review the decision.
The tiny owl prefers to nest in old-growth forests and was listed as a federally threatened species in 1990, a decision that dramatically redrew the economic landscape for the Pacific Northwest timber industry and pitted environmentalists against loggers. The dark-eyed bird was rejected for an upgrade to “endangered” status last year by the Fish and Wildlife Service despite losing nearly 4% of its population annually."