Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 11, 2015

Contact: Jay Lininger, (928) 853-9929,

Flagstaff Project Can Protect Watersheds Without Killing Endangered Owls

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.—The Center for Biological Diversity has objected to a logging plan for the Coconino National Forest that will cause unnecessary harm to endangered wildlife.

One-third of the 8,668-acre “Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project” announced in June would log forests so near to Mexican spotted owl nests that the birds’ ability to raise young will be compromised. 

“We should have a lighter touch where spotted owls nest and breed,” said Jay Lininger, senior scientist with the Center. “We don’t have to kill endangered birds to protect our watersheds.”

A biological opinion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that logging noise in the project could stop owls from mating, and some could die if new roads penetrate their backcountry habitat. 

Most of the project is located in the Dry Lake Hills, including on Mount Elden, north of Flagstaff.  The remainder is on Mormon Mountain, south of Lake Mary, where spotted owls would be most affected, according to a Forest Service analysis.  

“Most of what the Forest Service wants to do is really sensible, but Mormon Mountain is pretty far away from Flagstaff,” Lininger said.

The project is financed by a $10 million bond approved by Flagstaff voters in 2012 to reduce the hazard of post-fire flooding in the Rio de Flag and Lake Mary watersheds. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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