Keep the Northwest Forest Plan Strong for Spotted Owls and Other Wildlife

For decades, the landmark Northwest Forest Plan has helped protect mature and old-growth forests, Northern Spotted Owls, Marbled Murrelets, and other imperiled fish and wildlife on federal lands throughout the Pacific Northwest. Now, the Forest Service is proposing to amend the Plan, and we need your help to make sure its conservation goals are maintained and strengthened in this era of climate change. 

Northern Spotted Owl perched on a mossy branch
Northern Spotted Owl, photo by Frank D. Lospalluto

The Northwest Forest Plan represented a historic compromise to protect and restore old-growth forest and stream habitat for threatened species, while still permitting some logging on public lands. The Plan governs 24.5 million acres of federally managed land in western Oregon and Washington, and California. It has helped protect and restore forests razed by decades of unchecked logging and has become a model for science-based, landscape-scale ecosystem management. 

Although the rationale for amending the Plan is changing conditions related to climate change and wildfire, the Forest Service has so far failed to address vital ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, clean water, and clean air. We are concerned that the proposal is being rushed through, opening the door to weakening the Plan. 

We need your voice to ensure the Forest Service maintains and strengthens protections for our wildlife, mature and old-growth forests, stream habitat, clean water and air, and climate!

How to Take Action:

  1. Submit written comments to the Forest Service by February 2nd using this online form. See below for talking points.
  2. Register to attend a virtual open house hosted by the Forest Service to learn about the Northwest Forest Plan
    amendment process and ask questions of a panel of agency staff working on the amendment.
    Register here for the February virtual open house on Thursday, February 8 from 5-7 p.m.
  3. Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action. There will be another opportunity for public comment later this summer when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is released. We will keep you updated!
Marbled Murrelet chick in an Elliott State Forest, photo by Aaron Allred

Talking Points:

  • Any Northwest Forest Plan amendment must prioritize preserving biodiversity and habitat connectivity. This includes strengthening protections for Northern Spotted Owl, Marbled Murrelet, and the many other at-risk fish and wildlife species impacted by habitat fragmentation and loss. Preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change also means ensuring habitat resilience from the impacts of wildfire, drought, disease, and insects.
  • Through Executive Order 14072, President Biden gave the Forest Service clear guidance to conserve and restore mature and old-growth forests as a natural climate solution. The Northwest Forest Plan covers 24.5 million acres of federally managed lands in western Oregon and Washington, and northwestern California. Any amendment to the Plan must recognize and protect the ability of these forests to sequester and store vast amounts of carbon.
  • The plan amendment should protect and replenish all mature and old-growth trees and forests. Although the Plan protected many older forests, it did not protect them all. The Plan left a million acres of mature and old-growth forest open for logging.
  • In considering amendments to address sustainable communities, the Forest Service must recognize the multitude of social and economic benefits that forests provide to local communities – including clean water and air, climate resilience, and recreation.
  • The size and severity of wildfires has increased in recent years, requiring the Forest Service to reassess current management strategies. In doing so – and as part of broader and better consultation with Tribes – the Forest Service should consider incorporating Indigenous cultural burning practices. 

Thank you for speaking up for Oregon’s old-growth forests and endangered wildlife!