On Wednesday, Oregon’s Cliff Bentz crafted a letter, signed by nine members of the House, asking the Department of the Interior to implement a federal rule pushed in January revising the designation of the critical habitat of the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO). If implemented, Bentz says the 2021 rule would better allow federal agencies to implement the NSO Recovery Plan, which calls for the use of active forest management tools to mitigate the risks of wildfire on 1.1 million acres of federal lands in the Pacific Northwest designated as “critical habitat” by the Obama Administration.

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“The 2021 designation aligns critical habitat for the NSO with a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision and with federal environmental law. It represents an opportunity to move past antiquated, ineffective habitat policies that have stymied critical federal forest restoration activities by focusing on the real threats to this species and its habitat, while supporting American jobs and rural communities across three Western states. Science and the law have changed since the NSO was listed 30 years ago, and [the Department of the Interior] needs to adapt to this as well,” the letter stated.

“I thank my fellow Members of Congress who have joined me in fighting for rural communities and the health of our forests,” said Bentz. “The immediate implementation of this rule means we can sustainably manage a significant portion of our forests in a way that supports jobs in the Pacific Northwest and protects not just rural communities from wildfire but also the Northern Spotted Owl from a staggering level of habitat loss due to wildfire.”

Additional Northwest lawmakers signing the letter includes Washington’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse, Jaime Herrera Beutler. Click Here to read the entire letter.

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