Why Protecting the Northern Spotted Owl Sparks Forest Fires

Terry Anderson
October 20, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

This past summer, wildfires scorched nearly eight million acres across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. …Increased fuel loads over the last century—resulting from trees that are diseased, insect infested, and dead—are a major cause of these massive wildfires. The Forest Service wants to use scientific management techniques—including logging, prescribed burns, and thinning—to treat forest fuel loads, but it is continuously thwarted by environmental activists who want to let nature take her course. …But it will take more than congressional hearings and directives from cabinet secretaries to remove barriers to sound land management. It will take rewriting laws such as the Endangered Species Act (1973), used by environmental groups to stop treatment projects on the grounds that logging, brush clearing, and prescribed burns would further threaten endangered species. A case in point is the spotted owl controversy of the 1990s.

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