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Northern Spotted Owl Policy Working Group

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Under the settlement of Seattle Audubon Society v. Sutherland, the parties proposed a collaborative Policy Working Group on Northern Spotted Owl Conservation to be established by the Washington Forest Practices Board.  The Board established the Working Group at its July 7, 2008 meeting with the purpose of recommending measures that result in strategic contributions from non-federal lands in Washington to the broader goal of conservation of a viable population of the Northern Spotted Owl.

The Board directed the Working Group to apply the following principles in fulfilling this purpose:

    • Recommendations must be based on the best available science and should consider guidance in the federal Northern Spotted Owl recovery plan.
    • Voluntary, incentive-based measures should be the primary focus, although the Board's Rules may need to be modified.
    • Conservation contributions from Washington's non-federal lands must be economically sustainable…with the goal of keeping sustainable forestry as a priority land use.
    • Recommendations should include proposals that address gaps in the scientific underpinnings of Northern Spotted Owl conservation.
    • Thought should be given to how implementation of recommended measures will be evaluated, to determine whether intended outcomes are being achieved.

The Working Group is comprised of 13 members:

    • 4 representatives of Washington's forest products industry
    • 4 representatives of Washington-based conservation organizations that have been actively involved with spotted owl conservation
    • 2 representatives of state government (1 Department of Natural Resources, 1 Department of Fish and Wildlife)
    • 1 representative of small forest landowners
    • 1 representative of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    • 1 representative of the Washington State Association of Counties

The Working Group began meeting in January 2009.  On November 10, 2009, the Working Group presented a draft report to the Board, which outlined a list of seven consensus recommended measures, two areas of agreement on general direction, and four unresolved issues.  The Group worked through December 2009 to finalize their report.  Each caucus developed non-consensus recommendations with a discussion of their advantages and rationale.  The other caucuses then responded as to whether or not they agreed with the non-consensus recommendations and why.

At the February 10, 2010 Board meeting, the Working Group presented the final report to the Board.  The Board approved the consensus recommendations, which included convening an Implementation Working Group to form a work plan by May 2010 that prioritizes the recommendations and coordinates interaction with federal agencies with respect to Barred owl research.  The Board also agreed to convene a technical science group to create a "road map" that identifies the spatial and temporal strategic contributions that should be made to conserve the owl on nonfederal lands. 

Read the Northern Spotted Owl Policy Working Group Final Report to the Forest Practices Board.