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USFWS Seeks Comment on N. Spotted Owl Plans

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a court-ordered critical habitat proposal for the endangered northern spotted owl in the Federal Register, for public comment.

The proposal, which preliminarily identifies areas to be included in the final habitat designation, stresses the benefits of excluding any private lands and importance of economic considerations in indentifying suitable habitat, according to a statement from the Department of the Interior.

The proposal identifies nearly 14 million acres of land in California, Oregon and Washington that meet the definition of critical habitat for the spotted owl. However the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already proposed to exclude 2.6 million acres of national parks and federal wilderness areas where protections for the spotted owl already exist, and nearly 1 million acres of state and private lands already subject to conservation agreements.

The public has until June 6 to comment on the proposed designation.

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