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USFWS acts to remove land from critical habitat for owl
January 20, 2021, Ag Alert, California Farm Bureau Federation
Land in 10 California counties would be affected by action to remove land from being designated as critical habitat for the northern spotted owl.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last week it would revise the designation of critical habitat for the owl, to exclude nearly 3.5 million acres of land in California, Oregon and Washington.
The action involves critical habitat in Del Norte, Siskiyou, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Tehama, Mendocino, Glenn, Lake and Colusa counties.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said the newly excluded lands include all lands reinvested to the United States as "Oregon and California Railroad Reinvested Lands."
"According to the congressional enactments governing these lands, they are to be managed primarily for sustained yield timber production," the agency said. "The excluded lands also include those designated as matrix lands under the Northwest Forest Plan and are to be managed for multiple use and sustained yield."
The Endangered Species Act allows the secretary of Interior to exclude land from critical habitat if the benefits outweigh the risk that the action will result in extinction of the species.
"Based upon the best scientific and commercial data available, the Secretary has not concluded that these exclusions will result in extinction of the species," the final rule said.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said it was acting as a result of settlement of a lawsuit brought by labor and timber groups and several counties, challenging its previous critical-habitat rule.
The action leaves more than 6.1 million acres of land in the three states designated as critical habitat for the owl, which has been protected under the ESA as a threatened species since 1990.
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