Associated Press -- A new study challenges a basic justification about the threat of wildfires that the Bush administration used to make room for more logging in old growth forests that are home to the northern spotted owl.
The study, appearing in the journal Conservation Biology, found no increasing threat of severe wildfires destroying old growth forests in the drier areas where the owl lives in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
"The argument used to justify a massive increase in logging under the (spotted owl) recovery program was not based on sound science," said Chad T. Hanson, a fire and forest ecologist at the University of California, Davis, who was lead author of the study. "The recovery plan took a leap-before-you-look approach and did it without sound data."
The spotted owl was declared a threatened species in 1990 primarily due to heavy logging in old growth forests. Its numbers continue to decline, despite sharp reduction in logging on federal lands in 1994 that caused economic pain still felt in the region. [ more ]