An article appearing in the August 1 Forest Ecology and Management journal concludes that logging in Northern Spotted Owl habitat may be the most effective course for promoting the survival of the species.
“Comparative habitat assessment for protected species in a fire-prone landscape,” by researchers at Oregon State University and Michigan State University, reports on a comparative hazard assessment for 325,000 hectares in a fire-prone area of southwest Oregon, comprising “a variety of landownerships, fire regimes, and management strategies” and created models simulating both “no action” and “active manipulation of hazardous fuels.” (As implied, the conclusions are based on modeling, not direct observation.)
From the abstract: “Early in the model simulation, young seral stages were mostly responsible for high fire hazard, and active management in young stands tended to perpetuate that hazard. Later in the simulation, older seral stages accounted for most of the high fire hazard and active management could be used to ameliorate that hazard. . . . Active management resulted in greater numbers of potential spotted owl territories in lower fire hazard conditions, particularly during later years of our simulation.”
More at this link.
In an interview with a reporter at the news site Red Orbit, co-author John Bailey of Oregon State University points out that “Given the current condition of Pacific Northwest forests, the single biggest threat facing spotted owls and other species is probably stand-replacement wildfires.” Also: “Without active management to reduce risks, we never really put fire out, we just delay it.”