Subject: SW Biodiversity Alert #8
*** *** Southwest Biodiversity Alert #8 *** ***
southwest center for biological diversity
pob 17839, tucson, az 85731
SPOTTED OWL RECOVERY PLAN ALTERED TO ALLOW
SALVAGE LOGGING IN ROADLESS AREA!
In what the newspapers have dubbed "owlgate," the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service has admitted that it illegally changed the Mexican
Spotted Owl Recovery Plan after the plan was officially signed.
The change, deleting a prohibition against salvage logging roadless
areas and steep slopes, came after the Gila National Forest
pressured the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mexican spotted
owl Recovery Team to delete the prohibition. Internal computer
memos showed that the Forest Service "aggressively pressured" the
Fish and Wildlife Service to allow salvage in roadless and steep
slope areas when it became evident that the prohibition would
preclude the HB Salvage Sale on the Gila National Forest. At 10
million board ft, HB is the largest planned sale in the Southwest.
Internal Forest Service memos stated that "HB will define what the
region will be able to do in term of salvage. If we can't do it
we won't be able to do it anywhere." The HB area contains 10% of
all spotted owls on the Gila National Forest.
The head of the Spotted Owl Recovery Team, a Forest Service
biologist, admitted that he made the change unilaterally between the
signing and the printing of the Plan. Other members of the
Recovery Team had not yet received the printed copy of the Plan
even though it was finalized in October 1995. Several were
incensed when told of the changes.
During the media frenzy which placed owlgate on the front page of
newspapers throughout the Southwest, the Regional Director of the
Fish and Wildlife Service admitted that the HB fire was arson
caused. Up to that point the Forest Service had managed to
successfully suppress the fire investigation results.
Following the revelation of owlgate, environmentalists filed
motions with a federal court requesting that they be allowed to
access to Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service documents
and be given the right to interview agency biologists and
bureaucrats. We presented evidence showing that owlgate is part
of a continuing effort on the part of the agencies to circumvent a
federal court order which has placed an injunction on timber harvest
in the Arizona and New Mexico since August of 1995.
Write: Nancy Kaufman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold
Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Tell her to restore the
prohibition against logging in roadless areas and steep slopes to the
Write: Able Camerina, Gila National Forest, 3005 E. Camino del
Bosque, Silver City, NM 88061. Tell him not to log the Eagle Peak
SUIT FILED TO LIST ALEXANDER ARCHIPELAGO WOLF
The Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Southwest Center for
Biological Diversity, Save America's Forests, Native Forest
Network and others filed suit 2/7/96 against the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service for denying a petition to list the Alexander
Archipelago wolf as an endangered species. Endemic to the
Tongass National Forest, the AA wolf is threatened by road
building, hunting, and the loss of its prey species due to clear
cutting of old growth rainforests on the Tongass National Forest.
Though the scientific data clearly indicates the wolf warrants
as endangered, the FWS denied the petition on the basis that the
Tongass National Forest "promised" to develop adequate
protection measures in the future. The agency used the same
blatantly illegal argument to deny ESA protection to the Queen
Charlotte goshawk which ranges from Southeast Alaska down the
Olympic Peninsula. That denial is being litigated by the same
STUDY SAYS LARGE WILDFIRES MORE LIKELY TO
RESTORE LANDSCAPES THAN SMALL PRESCRIBED
Baker, W.L. 1994. Restoration of landscape structure altered by
fire suppression. Conservation Biology 8(3):763-769. Used GIS-
based simulation model to analyze effects of reinstating natural fire
regime in Boundary Waters Canoe Area (MN) after 82 years of fire
suppression. Concluded that landscapes heavily altered by fire
suppression can generally be returned to natural structural condition
in 50-75 year by reinstating natural fire regimes. "Unusually large
fires would probably hasten the restoration of landscape structure,
while small prescribed fires will not restore the landscape but
instead produce further alteration."