This Wopper Comes a Cropper, Or Does it?

Spotted owl habitat under threat in Oregon

This page was published 13 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

Reporters speak of a story having legs, meaning that it is likely to continue over an extended period. Spotted owls have legs.

The story began in the late ’80s, when it became evident that out-of-control logging in ancient forests in the Northwest was about to extinguish the owls. Earthjustice sued, and managed to achieve Endangered Species Act protection for the owls.

End of story? Not quite.

Further litigation eventually led to the creation of the Northwest Forest Plan near the beginning of the Clinton administration. Still, more legs.

The Bush administration first tried to all but eliminate the owl’s critical habitat. We beat back that attempt. Then, toward the end of those years, the Bureau of Land Management put forward the Western Oregon Plan Revisions or WOPR, which called for a gigantic (and potentially devastating) increase in old growth logging. Old growth is owl habitat.

The public outcry was loud and sustained, and Ken Salazar, in one of his first acts as interior secretary,withdrew the plan. Finally, end of story? Well, no. For reasons that are murky at best, the BLM (which Salazar oversees) has just proposed the Spencer Creek Project, which would destroy a thousand acres of old growth in the Oregon Coast Range.

We’re back in court. The story still has legs.

Tom Turner literally wrote the books about Earthjustice during his more-than-25 years with the organization. A lifelong resident of Berkeley, CA, he is most passionate about Earthjustice's maiden issue: wilderness preservation.