Action timeline

April 3, 2000 – The Center and the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign led a large coalition of groups in filing a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the California spotted owl as a threatened or endangered species.

October 12, 2000 – The Service published an initial finding that the petition presented information indicating that listing may be warranted.

January 2001 – The Clinton administration issued a plan called the Sierra Nevada Framework that changed management of Sierra Nevada national forests, providing new protections for the owl.

February 10, 2003 – Because of the protections provided by the Framework, the Service published a 12-month finding that denied our first petition for Endangered Species Act listing for the California spotted owl. The Bush administration subsequently weakened the Framework, gutting protections for the species.

May 11, 2004 – The Center and five other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Service's 12-month finding.

September 2004 – Along with the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign and six other organizations, we submitted an updated petition for the owl's protection, citing new information that was not available at the time of the initial 12-month finding.

October 14, 2005 – The Service announced a 90-day finding that listing of the owl may be warranted and initiated a status review. In light of this 90-day finding, the Center's lawsuit was dismissed.

May 24, 2006 – The Service denied the 2004 petition, saying that its survey of California's Sierra Nevada forests found most owl populations to be stable or increasing. Though the San Bernadino population did show a decline, it was said to be “statistically non-significant.”

July 10, 2014 –The Center filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service over its continued failure to protect post-fire wildlife habitat from outdated and destructive logging practices. The areas at issue provide crucial habitat for wildlife for the Californa spotted owl and other species.

March 16, 2016 – The Center filed lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to protect California spotted owls under the Endangered Species Act.

August 30, 2016 – The Center reached a settlement with the Service requiring the agency to decide by 2019 whether California spotted owls warrant protection under the Act. 

Photo by Ilya Katsnelson