Northern Spotted Owl & The Oregon Timber Industry


The Northern spotted owl was in the year 1990, listed to be a species, which is endangered. The population of the spotted owl is decreasing at an extremely high rate, according to the ICUN Red List. In turn, all the spotted owls found within the range of Washington, Oregon and California were listed as being threatened. Futhermore, in the year 1991, a court order prevented any logging activities from taking place anywhere the spotted owl existed. Many people claim that the Oregon timber industry has declined as a result of the enactment of the Endangered Species Act. The habitat where the owl lives in is full of spruces, hemlocks, firs and cedars, which are a spruce of timber (Knickerbocker, 2007). The forest habitat provides the logging industry with billions of dollars, as it is the main source of timber. Unfortunately, heavy logging has occurred in the area, and it has extensively dwindled. According to the Act, there is no one allowed to engage in logging activities anywhere within the vicinity of 1.3 miles, where the spotted owl lives. Moreover, the loggers are meant to ensure that the old growth forests are at least 40% intact. This measure has been faced with serious opposition by the timber industry, as it will make many of the mill workers and logger unemployed. They claim that the protectionist policy is deemed to fail, as a lot of money is needed in order to preserve the forest environment.
The players in the timber industry claim that a lot of harm will occur, and it will be as a result of negligence. It will be extremely difficult to ensure that the spotted owls are saved as the disadvantages accrued are more. Also, many Pacific Northwest communities depend on the old growth forests for logging and the Act seeks to harm them. Most of the lumber mills obtain their timber from the forests, particularly those located at the North western part. The machines used by the saw mills are only suited for cuts obtained from the old growth, which are large in dimension. This means they their machines will be useless as they cannot carry out their functions in other areas. As much as 28000 jobs will be lost, as well as increased rates of suicide, alcoholism, divorce, and delinquency, are likely to occur. The economy will also suffer as there will be a drastic increase in the price of wood products, and consumers are the ones to suffer most. Since the United States trades with countries such as Japan, which has no sufficient timber, their relations will be threatened. The economy of Japan depends excessively on timber obtained from America, and it is bound to suffer as a result of the Endangered Species Act (Burgess, 2001).
It is vital that the future and present generations have a stable supply of timber in the form of paper and wood. The latter is only possible if the loggers are allowed to cut the existing old growth found in the forest according to officials from the timber industry. It is a fact that the trees have to maintain themselves once they reach maturity if the new growth is not cut. This means that the loggers should ensure that the young trees are replaced. In turn, there will be a constant supply of timber all the time to meet the demands, which people have. In any given economy, consumers have to be satisfied by having a constant supply of products. The latter is only possible if the producers are given the right conditions to supply the various products they have (Becker, 2007). Environmentalists are arguing that people should start depending on other sources of wood. This claim has been refuted by the logging industry as it will have adverse effects on them. Furthermore, the claim is unrealistic as there is no other alternative for wood, as society just has to continue using wood.
In my opinion, I believe that the ESA has imposed costs, which might be destructive to the American economy, in the end. Timber plays a vital role in helping improve the country’s GDP, and by restricting loggers from carrying out their duty, problems are bound to occur. The loss of unemployment will then affect the economy as people will not have money to purchase other products. The people who supply the loggers with consumer products will be affected as they will not benefit, since the loggers do not have money to buy products. Also, there are benefits, which occur as a result of preservation. Once the owl’s habitat is destroyed, they will eventually die, and people have an obligation to take care of endangered species (Verhovek, 2007). It is mandatory as well as ethical that the displaced timber workers are provided with educational and vocational training. This will assist them in obtaining a means of livelihood as they cannot continue with their previous logging activities. In turn, the economy of America will be sustained, since the timber workers will find other occupations. Indeed, the Endangered Species Act is one, which has affected the Oregon timber industry, and a conclusive solution needs to be found out to save the workers, as well as the spotted owls.


Burgess, Bonnie. (2001).Fate of the Wild: The Endangered Species Act and the Future of Biodiversity. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
Knickerbocker, Brad. (2007). “Northern spotted owl’s decline revives old concerns”. Christian Science Monitor.
Verhovek, Sam. (2007). “To protect spotted owl, larger rival is targeted”. Los Angeles Times.,1,7172559.story?track=rss&ctrack=2&cset=true.
Becker, Gary. (2007). Economic Theory. New York: Transaction Publishers.

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