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Roadless Area Update-- Southwest

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  February 16, 1996
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  From: "Southwest Center for Biological Diversity" <swcbd@igc.apc.org>
  In what the newspapers have dubbed "owlgate," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
  Service has admitted that it illegally changed the Mexican Spotted Owl
  Recovery Plan after the plan was officially signed.  The change, deleting
  a prohibition against salvage logging roadless areas and steep slopes,
  came after the Gila National Forest pressured the Fish and Wildlife
  Service and the Mexican spotted owl Recovery Team to delete the
  prohibition.  Internal computer memos showed that the Forest Service
  "aggressively pressured" the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow salvage in
  roadless and steep slope areas when it became evident that the prohibition
  would preclude the HB Salvage Sale on the Gila National Forest.  At 10
  million board ft, HB is the largest planned sale in the Southwest.
  Internal Forest Service memos stated that "HB will define what the region
  will be able to do in term of salvage.  If we can't do it here, we won't
  be able to do it anywhere."  The HB area contains 10% of all spotted owls
  on the Gila National Forest.
  The head of the Spotted Owl Recovery Team, a Forest Service biologist,
  admitted that he made the change unilaterally between the signing and the
  printing of the Plan.  Other members of the Recovery Team had not yet
  received the printed copy of the Plan even though it was finalized in
  October 1995.  Several were incensed when told of the changes.
  During the media frenzy which placed owlgate on the front page of
  newspapers throughout the Southwest, the Regional Director of the Fish and
  Wildlife Service admitted that the HB fire was arson caused.  Up to that
  point the Forest Service had managed to successfully suppress the fire
  investigation results.
  Following the revelation of owlgate, environmentalists filed motions with
  a federal court requesting that they be allowed to access to Forest
  Service and Fish and Wildlife Service documents and be given the right to
  interview agency biologists and bureaucrats.  We presented evidence
  showing that owlgate is part of a continuing effort on the part of the
  agencies to circumvent a federal court order which has placed an
  injunction on timber harvest in the Arizona and New Mexico since August of
  Write: Nancy Kaufman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Ave. SW,
  Albuquerque, NM 87102.  Tell her to restore the prohibition against
  logging in roadless areas and steep slopes to the Recovery Plan.
  Write:  Able Camerina, Gila National Forest, 3005 E. Camino del Bosque,
  Silver City, NM 88061.  Tell him not to log the Eagle Peak Roadless Area.
  southwest center for biological diversity
  pob 17839, tucson, az 85731
  ** End of text from cdp:headlines **
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