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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

CA Spotted Owl Protections Open for Public Comment

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023   

The Biden administration is now taking public comments on a proposal to grant the California Spotted Owl protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The move is a reversal of the Trump administration's 2020 decision to deny the brown-and-white bird further protections, even though its population has been on the decline for decades.

Pamela Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, noted the proposed listing stems from the settlement of a yearslong lawsuit lawsuit by conservation groups.

"When the species is listed, logging on national forests will have to undergo more scrutiny and be determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not cause harm to the owl or their habitat," Flick explained.

An exception would allow some logging to reduce fuel load for wildfire management. The proposal splits the California spotted owl population into two groups: Birds in the Sierra Nevada range would be listed as threatened, while those in the southern/coastal region would be listed as endangered.

The birds have lost significant habitat over the years to logging. They are sometimes poisoned by rodenticides used on illegal marijuana grows, and they also face competition from an invasive species known as the barred owl. Flick emphasized global warming is fueling the biggest threats to the spotted owl's survival.

"The threats that are currently impacting the Sierra Nevada population include large-scale high-severity fire, tree mortality as a result of drought and native bark beetle killing millions of trees," Flick outlined. "Those are impacts that came about from climate change."

The public comment period is open through the end of April.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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