Skip to main content

Protecting forests for all

Posted by Robert Long, Senior Conservation Scientist and Director, Living Northwest Program, Wildlife Conservation

In a last-minute announcement, the Trump administration is proposing to eliminate protections for 3.4 million acres of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl across the Pacific Northwest and California. This decision, if enacted, could push this iconic Pacific Northwest species to extinction. Our forests are home to myriad species and natural communities, and essential to humans for things such as clean water, clean air and the very wilderness we treasure. Large blocks of connected, protected resilient forests are, indeed, the best insurance we have against massive losses of wildlife species and the effects of climate change.

Photo of spotted owl by Frank D. Lospalluto/Flickr via Audubon.

This decision is counter to the best available science. A very recent review by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service concluded that Northern spotted owls are in critical need of protections, and should be uplisted from threatened to endangered. This is a species that has become an icon for conservation in our region, and protecting its forest home also protects the dense, wooded landscapes that are home to black bears, elk, cougars, fishers and so many others. Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest Program is working to conserve and recover all species in our region, and to ensure that the Pacific Northwest continues to be a viable home for wildlife and humans. The wildlife and people of Washington state deserve intact, functional ecosystems and we must ensure decisions made for the long-term protection of public lands are backed by science and the public.

Opening up 3.4 million acres to logging does not represent the best decision for our forests or the people of our region. Working together with the timber industry to plan sustainable timber harvests based on ecological practices, along with protocols and protections for the most vulnerable species, takes time. Woodland Park Zoo supports the conservation and recovery of all Pacific Northwest Species, and it is our strong opinion that spotted owls should not be silenced in our forests. We will encourage the incoming administration to re-evaluate this decision and assure forests for all, forests always.

Photo of PNW forest by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

If you’d like to add your voice to this issue, please consider emailing your representative in congress and urging them to consider what is at stake with this decision and why you value a more thorough process in decision-making when it comes to our wild lands.