Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought comments on the revised designation of critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.  American Forests has a direct interest in the survival of the Northern Spotted Owl and restoring the health of the forest on which they depend.  Ensuring healthy forest ecosystems may require active adaptive management where appropriate and there are ecologically sound ways to manage forests for the joint benefit of threatened and endangered species and human communities.

“Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sought comments regarding the interpretation of the phrase “significant portion of its range” in the Endangered Species Act. American Forests has a direct interest in the endangered and threated flora and fauna that depend on healthy forest ecosystems for survival, so we submitted comments. Our comments focus on how “historical ranges” should be assessed in determining whether a species is considered to be endangered or threatened.

National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

A collaboration of federal, state and tribal partners released a draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (“Strategy”) providing a unified approach to safeguarding the nation’s biodiversity, ecosystem functions and sustainable human uses of fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate. As American Forests has a direct interest in the health of our national forests and developing the appropriate strategy for addressing climate change, we submitted the following comments highlighting areas where American Forests believes the Strategy could improve.

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Forest ecosystems are in a unique position in the climate-change debate as they are both severely impacted by it and contribute to its mitigation through carbon sequestration and the regulation of water quantity and quality. The dynamics of forest ecosystems will change impacting not only the other plants within the forest ecosystem, but the wildlife that call it home and the ecological services the forests provide, such as water regulation, soil erosion mitigation and controlling nutrient overload. American Forests’ comments address six specific issues:

  1. The Strategy must be specific in its direction and prioritization to advance its goals.
  2. Funding should be designated to projects that adequately address climate adaptation.
  3. A more comprehensive approach to habitat conservation should be implemented.
  4. Collaboration must remain a priority in adaptation planning.
  5. Valuing ecosystem services is an integral part of any adaptation plan.
  6. Landscape scale approaches should consider how different ecosystems work together and are interconnected.

 Comments on the Everglades Headwaters Proposal

To protect and conserve the natural resources and wildlife habitat in the Kissimmee River Valley, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to create the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The goal is to provide recreational opportunities, connect fragmented lands to create wildlife corridors, and improve water quality in the Everglades watershed.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a draft management plan to protect and restore plant and wildlife habitat in ANWR. This 19-million-acre refuge is the largest area of protected wilderness in the U.S. It is well known for its rich abundance of wildlife, wilderness areas, and recreational opportunities.

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