Five of Donald Trump’s cabinet members were referred by their own inspector generals for criminal investigations. With money as the primary goal of his administration and revenge in his heart, of course, the former president tried to kick the heart out of the Spotted Owl’s habitat protections on northwestern federal lands.
He ordered over a third of the Spotted Owls’ natural habitat removed in Washington, Oregon, and California. Since the ex-POTUS Interior Department changed the rule as he walked out of the door, it had not yet been implemented.
Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, an advocacy group said, The Washington Post reported:
‘On his way out the door, [former interior secretary David] Bernhardt just laid a bunch of regulatory land mines that would never hold up but were just going to take time for the Biden administration to clear up. And this is one of those cases.’
The nation’s Fish and Wildlife Service’s exclusion of over three million acres from protections had “defects and shortcomings,” according to the Federal Register notice:
‘The Service now concludes that there was insufficient rationale and justification to support the exclusion.’
Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, released a statement that read:
‘The exclusions we are proposing now will allow fuels management and sustainable timber harvesting to continue while supporting northern spotted owl recovery.’
President Joe Biden decided to save old-growth forests and the Spotted Owl’s habitat in the Pacific Northwest. Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild, an environmental group, said:
‘We’re not going to get any new critical habitat out of this. This is great, it absolutely needs to happen, but it’s not, in and of itself, going to recover spotted owls or protect salmon.’
Lawson Fite, the general counsel for the American Forest Resource Council, which represents the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest said:
‘We’re very concerned. I think it reflects potentially an elevation of politics over science and law.’
Trump’s administration planned to cut out 204,000 acres of the owl’s habitat as part of an agreement with the timber industry. The final rule came out five days before he left office calling for “stripping protections on 3.4 million acres” at the “discretion” of his interior secretary:
‘This was an incredibly indefensible decision. It was clearly biologically and scientifically invalid; it was also just invalid in the way we do business. You don’t do a proposed rule for 200,000 acres and then do a final rule for 17 times that.’
The Fish and Wildlife Service said taking 3.4 million acres out of critical habitat protections had been “premised on inaccurate assumptions” about the owl and its habitat:
‘In fact the best scientific data indicate that protecting late-successional habitat also remains critical for the conservation of the spotted owl.’
There has long been disagreement between environmentalists and loggers over the Spotted Owl in the Northwest. The species was listed as threatened in 1990. That was when President Bill Clinton “established critical habitat for the bird and other species across millions of acres.”
Thus far, the owl has lost “70 percent of its habitat and could go extinct, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service after it moved it “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. Man and the Barrel Owls have been the greatest threat to the birds. Climate change has resulted in huge wildfires meaning the birds will definitely need protected spaces, according to The Capital Press.
This is a list of President Biden’s environmental records from The Washington Post.
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