The Spotted Owl Controversy

Essay by DANIMAL69University, Bachelor'sA+, July 2004

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The Spotted Owl Controversy

The mere mention of the creature's name brings shudders to loggers and some local inhabitants; fear over its existence has incited rallies, garnered the attention of three government agencies, and caused people to tie themselves to trees.

In May 1991, Federal District Judge William Dwyer issued a landmark decision finding that the Forest Service had violated the National Forest Management Act by failing to implement an acceptable management plan for the northern spotted owl. His decision forbade timber sales across the spotted owl region until the Forest Service implemented an acceptable plan. An injunction blocking timber sales in Northern Spotted Owl habitat affected 17 national forests in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

On April 2, 1993, President Bill Clinton embarked on a quest to settle a long-standing battle. Participants were seated at three large roundtables. The environmentalists and their lawyers gathered on one side, with their attempts to protect natural resources, and the timber industry's desire for the same on the other.

The participants were asked to make three-minute statements; the table was then opened for questions and discussion among those seated at the table and officials in attendance (Post, Lawrence, Weber, 1999 p 320).

The environmental protection laws we have, such as the Endangered Species Act, are like the red idiot lights going on simultaneous with something terrible happening to your car...when that happens, it is too late to think about a tune-up. You simply have to stop. And the answer is not disconnecting the idiot lights, just as the answer to the forest management dilemma is not suspending or disobeying the laws that let us know we have a serious problem (Post, Lawrence, Weber, 1999 p 320) .

Round table members included representatives for the timber industry. The lumber industry's concern is that building...