spotted owls 

Spotted owl report When the first three nesting pairs of Northern Spotted Owls were discovered in the Squamish Forest district last year a series of events followed that had loggers in a flap, environmentalists banding together and politicians scrambling. In one fell swoop, the small spotted owl touched off a heated debate that sent shock waves through the Sea to Sky corridor as loggers and politicians decried the potential job losses faced in the woods by protecting the endangered spotted owl. Environmentalists quickly flew into the fray — pointing a damning finger at the logging industry and using terms like biological genocide and non-sustainable yields. The hysteria grew to frantic levels, loggers organized rallies and created a lobby group called the Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests, environmental warriors took to the bush, video cameras in hand, to document the forced extinction of the spotted owl as logging encroached on the last few remaining watersheds containing old growth timber — essential habitat for the owl. In the meantime, Dave Dunbar, chair of the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team continued working on a report that would create management options for the future of the spotted owl in B.C. The report, Management Options for the Northern Spotted Owl in British Columbia, was leaked to the media earlier this month after two requests under the Freedom of Information Act forced someone in the provincial government to get it out. And when the report, containing six management options for the spotted owl was released, it stood alone — one document in the midst of a heated debate guaranteed to get only hotter because of the lack of a detailed socio-economic report which was to be released at the same time as the management options. "We had hoped to release the two together, because that allows the public to get the two documents and create a big-picture type of scenario," Dunbar says. "Now we have the SORT options out there without the human numbers and it has the potential for confusion." The socio-economic report, prepared by Crane Consultants of Vancouver, will better show the economic effects the management options will have on communities within the Sea to Sky Corridor. The report should be out within a month. Tom Bruusgaard, newly elected president of the Squamish-based Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests, says the release of the management options is fine, as long as the socio-economic report is released as soon as possible to address anxiety within the local logging industry. "We have done our best to ensure that people in the area are up to snuff on the spotted owl issue," Bruusgaard says. "They know that it will take two to three months until the socio-economic study is going to be debated, as long as they can continue working until that time." Bruusgaard says in addition to the six SORT options, the recently released Mayors' Option, designed and created in the Sea to Sky Corridor to address the future of the local resource extraction industry, will be added as a seventh option. Paul George of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee says one of the SORT options allows for the possible extinction of the spotted owl — an illegal option, he says. "That option flies in the face of Canada's commitment to the International Biological Diversity Treaty," George says. "It's ludicrous to sign a document that says you are prepared to protect biological diversity and then go out and write a report that suggests the extinction of an endangered species may be OK."

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