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 user 2007-08-20 at 10:49:00 am Views: 49
  • #18529

    Weyerhaeuser ordered not to log owl habitat
    Injunction forbids work at four sites until Audubon suit is concluded
    Seattle federal judge Wednesday ordered the Weyerhaeuser Co. not to log
    four sections of spotted owl habitat in southwest Washington.”This
    proves owls have a federal right to live,” said Peter Goldman, a lawyer
    for the Seattle Audubon Society who filed the motion.

    District Judge Marsha Pechman issued the injunction granting Audubon’s
    request to stop logging near the sites until the conclusion of its
    lawsuit against the state and Weyerhaeuser. The trial is set to begin
    in April.The judge denied the advocacy group’s second request to stop
    the state from granting logging permits for more than 200 other sites
    on private land that have been identified as possible spotted owl
    habit.Pechman ruled against the scientific testimony presented by the
    state and Weyerhaeuser that habitat requirements established in the
    mid-1990s were unnecessarily large and Weyerhaeuser’s more recent and
    smaller estimates were sufficient to protect the species.

    spokesman Frank Mendizabal said his company already has stopped
    harvests at three of the sites as part of a research agreement with the
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He also said that barred owls have been
    found at all of the sites and are known to compete with spotted owls
    for habitat. He said they are a likely cause of the threatened birds’
    continual decline, not the logging of relatively young, 50- to
    80-year-old, forests.Spotted owls were declared a threatened species in
    1990 because of logging in old-growth forest, the primary habitat for
    the owls. Despite increased protection of the remaining old-growth
    forests and a protection plan, the owl’s population has continued to
    decline, and they now are being found in younger forests.The judge said
    she denied Audubon’s request to stop the state from issuing logging
    permits in spotted owl habitat because the group did not identify the
    amount of suitable habitat at those sites.Alex Morgan, conservation
    director for Seattle Audubon, said his group would try to figure out
    how to document what is at those sites to prove to the state and court
    which ones have spotted owls and therefore cannot be logged.”What this
    means is a little non-profit is left to enforce the Endangered Species
    Act,” he said.