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Congressman Bentz Introduces Bill to Limit Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Designation

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) introduced H.R.6019, a bill that would codify the Trump Administration’s Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) Critical Habitat Revision, which would fine-tune the NSO's habitat designation and remove about one million acres of non-NSO habitat lands from the area designated as owl habitat.

"The Biden Administration's newly announced critical habitat designation for the Northern Spotted Owl is one of many examples of the far Left's weaponization of the Endangered Species Act," said Bentz. "I am fighting to restore the Trump Administration's habitat designation for the NSO because its designation balanced the needs of the owl against the needs of rural communities and the threat of massive wildfires."

“Every American wants to see our rich diversity of species not just survive, but to thrive for generations to come. That goal doesn’t necessitate bureaucratic red tape and government overreach, like the Endangered Species Act often entails. The northern spotted owl is the perfect example. Overly expansive critical habitat designations have resulted in more catastrophic wildfires and significant loss of owl habitat. The Trump administration aimed to fix this issue by reducing the amount of critical habitat to allow for more forest restoration. Now, the Biden administration is swooping in with a ‘government knows best’ approach. With this legislation, Congressman Bentz is returning power to those who matter: the communities who know how to care for the owl the best. I’m proud to join him in this effort.” -House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“Far too often, the Endangered Species Act has been weaponized at the expense of industry and the jobs they provide for the West’s rural communities. The listing and mismanagement of the northern spotted owl hits home for both Rep. Bentz and I, and it has had a negative impact on our communities, local economies, and the species itself. I am proud to support his legislation to codify the commonsense critical habitat designation for the spotted owl that will deliver certainty to our local land managers and conservationists and help us work toward the species’ successful recovery.” - Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)

Congressman Cliff Bentz understands that both owls and people need healthy and resilient forests. After 30 years of failed policies, it's time for more effective and balanced solutions to help recover Northern Spotted Owl populations, conserve wildlife habitat, and protect our communities from devastating wildfires and toxic smoke. His solution recognizes that science-based active forest management is needed to prevent further habitat loss from severe wildfires and that federal agencies should follow the law to conserve habitat that's actually habitat for the species. The legislation will also encourage agencies to focus on the biggest threat to this species- competition from the Barred Owl, a larger, more aggressive owl species. We applaud Congressman Bentz’s introduction of this legislation to ensure Northern Spotted Owl habitat protections reflect the science, law, and decades of lessons learned. - American Forest Resource Council President and CEO Travis Joseph

“For decades, the overly broad Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat designation has prevented responsible forest management. Oregon communities have paid the price, and every summer we face out of control wildfires and smoke. The Critical Habitat does not even address the primary threat to the Northern Spotted Owl, which is competition from the invasive Barred Owl Species. Congressman Bentz’s bill to codify the Trump Administration’s Revised Critical Habitat is a step in the right direction. It will allow for accelerated forest management and fuels treatment to prevent the uncontrollable wildfires that have devastated Oregon communities.” - Lake County, Oregon Commissioner Barry Shullanberger

 “This legislation will help to lift some of the layers of “protective” designations on public lands that currently prevent healthy forest management, which will ultimately help prevent the threat of wildfire and protect Oregon communities and wildlife.” - Jackson County, Oregon Commissioner Colleen Roberts

“This bill addresses the overreach of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in adding questionable acres to NSO Critical Habitat" - Douglas County, Oregon Commissioner and Association of O&C Counties President Tim Freeman