Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 243-6643
Michael Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Groups Petition Forest Service to Protect Northern Goshawk Habitat
The Center for Biological Diversity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Conservation League and Wyoming Wilderness Association petitioned the Forest Service today requesting protection for the northern goshawk and its mature and old-growth forest habitats. The petition was filed under the Administrative Procedures Act, a federal law that gives citizens the right to petition government agencies to issue a rule. The petition includes all national forests in Idaho, Montana and western Wyoming.
According to studies, the goshawk is closely associated with mature and old-growth forests in the northern Rockies, which have been severely depleted by a century of logging. “Extensive loss of old-growth forests in the northern Rockies necessitates immediate protection for the goshawk, including protection of all existing old-growth forest and all roadless areas over 1,000 acres,” states Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Most other regions of the Forest Service have enacted guidelines to protect the goshawk, including national forests in the Southwest, California, Utah and Alaska. These guidelines prohibit cutting around goshawk nest sites and limit cutting within goshawk home ranges. “Despite similar concern for the goshawk in regions with protective regulations and the northern Rockies, national forests in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have failed to enact substantial regulations to protect the goshawk,” states Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “This failure is resulting in continued harm to goshawks in the northern Rockies.”
Impacts to goshawks continue to the present. According to documents obtained from the Forest Service, 183 projects in the northern Rockies potentially impacted individual goshawks or goshawk habitat in just one three year period (1999-2002). Most projects were timber sales, but also included road construction, prescribed burning, recreation development and general construction. The projects potentially impacted at least 229-252 goshawk territories. Only 372 goshawk territories are known on national forests in the northern Rockies, suggesting the Forest Service is impacting a substantial proportion of the goshawk population. “Without protective measures, the cumulative impacts of timber sales and other projects will lead to the continued decline and eventual extirpation of the goshawk in the northern Rockies,” states Greenwald. “This death by a thousand cuts is a clear violation of the Forest Service’s mandate to maintain the health of our national forests and the species that depend on them.”
The petition asks the Forest Service to develop guidelines to protect the goshawk in the northern Rockies, recommending pre-project surveys for goshawks, and prohibition of logging and other destructive activities within 60% of goshawk home ranges and in 510 acre areas around known nest sites. The petition also recommends instituting forest-wide protections for all remaining roadless areas over 1,000 acres and all remnant old-growth forest stands.