The federal government estimates it will cost more than $42 million over the next decade to help get the Mexican spotted owl off the national list of threatened species.
The estimate is included in a new recovery plan for the owl released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday. The plan calls for a combination of more research and management that focuses on limiting the biggest threat: wildfires that burn hot enough to wipe out entire stands of trees.
Part of that management could include thinning projects to prevent more severe wildfires in owl habitat, and that has environmentalists concerned.
“The problem with this revised recovery plan is that it’s got nearly no strong protections for the owl and gives the U.S. Forest Service a pass on the thinning and logging. It’s fire hysteria rather than sound science,” said Bryan Bird of the Santa Fe-based environmentalist group WildEarth Guardians.
Federal officials argued the plan is based on the best available science.