Posted by: atowhee | January 26, 2021

BIG OWL 1, GREED 0

The good guys and great owls scored a first-round victory in the battle over logging–or not–of nearly 100 acres of prime Great Gray Owl breeding habitat. This forest land with nearby marshy meadows is in the Jackson County Cascades about milepost 18 on Dead Indian Memorial Road east of Ashland. It is in a now-well-known area to spot these birds hunting meadows.

The forest land in question is managed by BLM, owned by our government, and under that by-gone last regime, it was log, baby, log. To hell with the environment. A federal judge has upheld the legal filing against that logging. That came from KSWild, a small non-profit that is an ardent defender of habitat and environment and wildlife in southwestern Oregon and northern California. The “KS” stands for Klamath Siskiyou, the label for that richly diverse bioregion. There were three more conservation group allies who worked on this case: Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council.

For more insight on the region read the classic “The Klamath Knot” by David Raines Wallace.

George Sexton is one of KSWild’s lawyers fighting for the owls’ sake. Here is part of his email to me, “A bit of good news!  The federal magistrate issued findings in our favor in response to our legal challenge to the Griffin Half Moon [name of the parcel involved] timber sale that would have logged GGO nesting habitat. The next step is that his findings and recommendations will go up to a District Court judge for review. Then the BLM and the timber industry will have the option of appealing to the 9th Circuit. But the important thing is that we prevailed in our Great Gray Owl claim in the first round.”

Back in 2016 the BLM–under a more conservation-minded federal regime–had ruled the Great Gray Owl was a survey and manage species in the district. Suddenly, in 2018, when it came time to lease out land for logging, the GGO was no longer even worth mentioning, much less managing. There was never any explanation given for that downgrade–I guess it is hard to find legal standing for simply saying “greed” or “profit.” So best to simply elide what’s going on. The judge saw through the attempt to re-write agency status judgements and so ruled against BLM. A second fragile species was also part of the court arguments–the fisher. BLM essentially said, oh well, they’re fast, they’ll run away from the logging. That was the sophisticated zoological argument there.

A typical GGO hunting meadow with mature, dense forest near at hand and plenty of small rodents in the grass and forbs of the open area, often too damp for conifers to thrive.

Responses

  1. Yeah! The good guys won!


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