First of all, good ol' Dubya never disappoints.
The Bush administration has decided that the northern spotted owl can get by with less old growth forest habitat as it struggles to get off the threatened species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it would cut by 23 percent the federal forest land designated as critical habitat for the owl in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Designating critical habitat for protection is a requirement of the Endangered Species Act.
Meanwhile, owl numbers are dropping by 4 percent a year.
Conservation groups say the critical habitat designation and a new plan for restoring owl population.
The spotted owl is particularly in danger of extinction in Washington State, where we live. Basically, the Northwest Forest Plan was a big failure (thank Bill Clinton for that one.)
The situation is particularly bad in Washington, where the rate at which owls are found at nesting sites has fallen by nearly half since 1994. Scientists blame the decline largely on the invasion of a tougher owl and the loss of much habitat to decades of logging.
"It's not looking very good," said Eric Forsman, of the U.S. Forest Service, a pre-eminent spotted-owl scientist. "The populations seem to be gradually going downhill, and it's not clear if or when that's going to stop."