Critical habitat for northern spotted owl

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has published a final rule titled Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Revised Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl (Federal Register December 4, 2012, p. 71876). Designated critical habitat now includes 9.3 million acres of federal land and another 272,036 acres of state land.

The total amount of critical habitat under the new final rule (9.6 million acres) is greater than the 5.3 million acres of critical habitat designated in a previous rule in 2008, but less than the 13.9 million acres identified in a proposed rule in March 2012. The proposal in March 2012 included 1.3 million acres of private land that are not included in the new final rule.

NCASI conducted a rigorous and detailed analysis of the models used by FWS to define and identify critical habitat in its March 2012 proposal. NCASI’s analysis demonstrated that there is a high degree of uncertainty in the FWS modeling results—e.g., there is a high likelihood that substantial areas of proposed critical habitat do not contain northern spotted owls. NCASI’s findings were communicated to the FWS in detailed technical comments submitted in July 2012.  

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