Thursday, March 23, 2006

Windmill Logging Plan Update, Spotted Owl surveys aren't likely to be finished before April 20th.

I just learned that Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) must conduct new Northern Spotted Owl surveys and then make a new request for "Technical Assistance" from Fish and Wildlife. No logging can happen before this process is completed. Last Years Technical Assistance letter instructed that "no operations occur" in 148 acres to make sure there that there is no "incidental take"of Northern Spotted Owls. The meaning of the term "Incidental Take" could be compared to "Collateral Damage".
Now that a certain amount of time has passed SPI must locate the current Owl nests. They have to hire an independent survey company due to their proven lack of credibility on the subject.


The period when surveys for Spotted Owls can be conducted begins on March 15th and ends on August 31st.
Additionally, surveys conducted one month before or after this period that locate occupied nests or roosts are also acceptable.
Surveys must be at least five days apart. They need to be done in good weather and some surveys have to be done at night.

That makes 36 days after March 15 the earliest possible date that the surveys could be completed. Then they would still have to request for Technical Assistance from Fish and Game. (I'm not sure how long that would take for that request to be approved and I don't know if the surveys have begun yet but will continue to update.)

The following is quoted from the [PROTOCOL FOR SURVEYING PROPOSED MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES THAT MAY IMPACT NORTHERN SPOTTED OWLS], endorsed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• 1-year (6-visit) surveys are acceptable. However, 1-year surveys provide a somewhat lower likelihood of determining the presence or absence of spotted owls. In addition, 1-year surveys will be valid only until the beginning of the following breeding season.

• 2-year (3 visits/year) surveys are preferable for surveying a management activity or planning area to determine the presence or absence of spotted owls. Surveys may be completed sooner if a response is obtained and status of the owl(s) is confirmed. However, we recommend that every effort be made to determine the highest status for a given site. 2-year surveys may be valid for 2 additional years.

• 2-year surveys are encouraged to provide a higher likelihood of accurately determining presence or absence of spotted owls. They may also be more economical, especially in cases where harvest will occur in more than one year

• Do not survey under inclement weather conditions, such as high winds (> 10 mph), rain, heavy fog, or high noise levels (stream noise, machinery, etc.) which would prevent you from hearing responses. If weather conditions or noise levels are in doubt, be conservative. Survey visits conducted under marginal conditions will reduce quality of the overall survey effort. Negative results collected under inclement weather conditions may not be adequate for evaluating spotted owl presence/absence.

• Systematically survey spotted owl habitat within each planning or activity area (as defined above in SURVEY AREA) until an owl responds, or if no response is heard, until a minimum of 3 complete night visits are conducted each year for a 2-year period or a minimum of 6 complete night visits are conducted for a 1-year period.

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