Press Releases

Herrera Beutler Calls on Biden Administration to Protect Rural Communities and Northern Spotted Owl from Wildfire

Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), along with 8 U.S. House colleagues, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior urging immediate implementation of a federal rule previously published on January 15, 2021, revising the designation of the critical habitat of the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO).

The rule was delayed by the Biden Administration on March 1, preventing it from going into effect on March 16, 2021. If implemented, the 2021 rule would better allow federal agencies to implement the NSO Recovery Plan. The plan calls for the use of active forest management tools to mitigate the risks of wildfire on 1.1 million acres of federal lands in the Pacific Northwest that were illegally designated as “critical habitat” by the Obama Administration (Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al.).

“The 2021 designation aligns critical habitat for the NSO with a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision and with federal environmental law. It represents an opportunity to move past antiquated, ineffective habitat policies that have stymied critical federal forest restoration activities by focusing on the real threats to this species and its habitat, while supporting American jobs and rural communities across three Western states. Science and the law have changed since the NSO was listed 30 years ago, and [the Department of the Interior] needs to adapt to this as well,” the lawmakers wrote.  

The full list of cosigners on the letter include U.S. Representatives Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

The full text of the letter is available here.