Spotted owls - question

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ggsh...@news.delphi.com

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Oct 13, 1993, 7:30:21 AM10/13/93
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I have heard from folks in the Pacific Northwest that Spotted Owls are
being found in great numbers in new growth timber. Is this true and
if so, what can one respond to this politically motivated attack on
ecological science. Would appreciate any comments.

George Holmgren


Dennis Chamberlin

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Oct 13, 1993, 3:01:28 PM10/13/93
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I have seen this at least twice, but I'm afraid I don't recall the source.
I guess I don't know what you mean by "this politically motivated attack"
(which attack?).

Does the finding of new owls constitute an attack? Or are you questioning
the assertion?


Richard Porter

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Oct 14, 1993, 2:53:45 AM10/14/93
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ggsh...@news.delphi.com (GGSHO...@DELPHI.COM) writes:

If it is true how can it be construed as politically motivated? Nature,
is nature is nature, and if them owls is in new growth, well, then, they're
there, ain't they?

If such publicized findings are false, then one could "respond to a politically
motivated attack on ecological science". But I don't think the owls care two
hoots for ecological science, only economic sanctuary.

richard m porter
forest resources management,
university of british columbia

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Richard and Linda Porter; 2756 Oyama Court; Vanc., BC; V6T 1N6; (604) 228-8818
"Accuse not nature, she has done her part; Do thou thine." - John Milton, 1667
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Terry Morse

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Oct 14, 1993, 11:48:58 AM10/14/93
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In article <rmporter....@unixg.ubc.ca> rmpo...@unixg.ubc.ca (Richard Porter) writes:
>From: rmpo...@unixg.ubc.ca (Richard Porter)
>Subject: Re: Spotted owls - question
>Date: 14 Oct 93 06:53:45 GMT

>ggsh...@news.delphi.com (GGSHO...@DELPHI.COM) writes:

>>I have heard from folks in the Pacific Northwest that Spotted Owls are
>>being found in great numbers in new growth timber. Is this true and
>>if so, what can one respond to this politically motivated attack on
>>ecological science. Would appreciate any comments.

>If it is true how can it be construed as politically motivated? Nature,
>is nature is nature, and if them owls is in new growth, well, then, they're
>there, ain't they?

>If such publicized findings are false, then one could "respond to a politically
>motivated attack on ecological science". But I don't think the owls care two
>hoots for ecological science, only economic sanctuary.

I think the issue here is that the work (As Far As I Know) was done by
people in the employ of the timber industry (big money involved), hasn't
(AFAIK) been published in peer-reviewed and readily accessible journals
where their methods can be examined critically (perhaps this raises
questions about the fairness and objectivity of the journals, and perhaps
not), and is generally cited by people like Dixy Lee Ray and Rush Limbaugh
who have a political agenda to advance and have been known to play fast and
loose with the truth.
Nature may be nature may be nature, but what we think we know about it
and how we interpret that knowledge is not so straightforward. If the owls
are in "new growth" [is that naturally regenerating second growth with lots
of down wood and snags, or managed tree farms? It may make a difference],
what does that mean? Are they there because they've always been there and
do just fine there, or because they have been displaced due to logging of
old growth forest and have to go somewhere. How well do they reproduce in
second growth? Do they maintain their populations? You won't hear Rush and
Dixy addressing these questions.
That's why the issue is politically charged and _may_ represent a
politically tainted attack on ecological science, akin to the Limbaugh-Ray
attack on "ozone hole" science [see the article on the "ozone backlash" in
the current issue of _Newsweek_, or the one which appeared in _Science_ some
months back].

>richard m porter
>forest resources management,
>university of british columbia

--Terry


--Terry
Terry Morse
mor...@ccmail.orst.edu
**************************************************************************
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. -- Emerson

Geez, I gotta have a REASON for everything? -- Calvin, imaginary friend of
the tiger, Hobbes
**************************************************************************


Mike Conroy

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Oct 14, 1993, 9:14:19 AM10/14/93
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
There apparently have been owls observed in such timber. Whether these
observations signify either that 'new growth' is either suitable habitat
or could support viable populations of owls thruout the subspecies' range
may be a different matter. Barry Noon, an expert in this area, is visiting her
e for the year, & I will pass this on to him.

Mike Conroy

Richard Porter

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Oct 14, 1993, 2:32:36 PM10/14/93
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Terry Morse writes of the political characteristics of who funds and publishes
"science". Does it matter. Is the "scince" funded by Weyerhauser less
scitific (or scientifically meritless) because it was not funded by WWF or the
NSF, or USFWS, etc ... My point is the ecological science, like economic
science, or physical science or any bloody science is neutral, morally and
politically. The use of science in advocacy (i.e., for more or less "old
growth" or more or less "wetlands" or more or less "tall grass prairie" or
more or less of anything we assciaite with place) is not science -- it is
politics. It is a very fuzzy line we cross when we as scientists (or scientist
wanna-bes) change from description to prescription.

If spotted owls are in "new growth" then ecologists and biologists should (note the normative case) ask why they are there. It is not the role of ecologists orof ecology to say that it is good or bad that they are there. That is up to youand me as individuals. When someone uses your science to advocate a position in
resource allocation it is out of your hands.

I would concur with Terry that if what "industry" funds is construed as
unscientific or anti-scientific, then it calls into question the motivation
for funding other published science.

richard m porter
forest resources management

university of british columbia

P.S. please pardon all the spelling errors. vi and I are still trying to
get to know one another after all these years.

ciao,

Marji Puotinen

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Oct 14, 1993, 10:21:30 AM10/14/93
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On Thu, 14 Oct 1993, Richard Porter wrote:

> ggsh...@news.delphi.com (GGSHO...@DELPHI.COM) writes:
>
> >I have heard from folks in the Pacific Northwest that Spotted Owls are
> >being found in great numbers in new growth timber. Is this true and
> >if so, what can one respond to this politically motivated attack on
> >ecological science. Would appreciate any comments.
>
> If it is true how can it be construed as politically motivated? Nature,
> is nature is nature, and if them owls is in new growth, well, then, they're
> there, ain't they?
>
> If such publicized findings are false, then one could "respond to a
politically
> motivated attack on ecological science". But I don't think the owls care two
> hoots for ecological science, only economic sanctuary.
>

just my two cents worth: those that stand on the side of truth, whatever
it may be, have nothing to fear. if the conservationist goal is to use
the spotted owl (..the ES Act) as a tool to conserve old forests, I don't
doubt that there are those opposed to conservation who are intelligent
enough to figure this out, develop their own fact manipulation strategies,
and attack this position. why not base the conservation argument on generally
established values such as the value of preserving biodiversity and "wild"
places for human enjoyment. i understand the rationale for using the owls
in the argument, but in the case of uncertainty about the facts, it
seems that to avoid conclusions that don't support the argument calls its
validity into question: if it is "right" to save the forests and owls,
then there is nothing to fear in the new research! isn't the goal to save
the forest and the owls because it is logical and valuable to humans to do
so, not to fool people into doing so? ( i realize i have an optimistic
view of the intelligence of those making the decisions)

Marji Puotinen
Duke University School of the Environment

Richard Porter

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Oct 14, 1993, 5:21:31 PM10/14/93
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Marji Puotinen <puot...@ACPUB.DUKE.EDU> writes:

>> ggsh...@news.delphi.com (GGSHO...@DELPHI.COM) writes:

ggsholmg was shocked to learn of spotted owls in new growth

>> Richard Porter replied: that observing owls in "new growth" has nothing to do with politics. And questioned how publishing that fact could
be construed as an attack on ecological science.

>Marji Puotinen replied that (I assume) publishing the fact was intended to
contravene the intentions of the ESA and Option 9 decision (my words here).

So what? It still doesn't constitute an attack on science. It just uses a
set of facts to advocate a particular position vis-a-vis the amount of "old
growth" to reserve. This is politics, not science.

As for the "need" to preserve all that stands. Thats a value judgement outside
ecological investigation. It is a statement of political ecology (to borrow a
nineteenth century phrase).

I am not arguing that less (reserve) is better or worse; just that we ought
to get our roles straight before we open our mouths and ask/answer questions.

my 25 cents worth.
richard m porter

Ray Newman

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Oct 14, 1993, 8:22:13 PM10/14/93
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> >>I have heard from folks in the Pacific Northwest that Spotted Owls are
> >>being found in great numbers in new growth timber. Is this true and

I am surprised (amazed?) that no one has really addressed this question. I
don't really know what I'm talking about but a person who does was in the
vicinity and gave a lecture. I missed their answer to this question (mass
transit doesn't wait), but got the answer second hand. In other words, take
this with a grain of salt.

Apparently northern spotted owls have been found in fair (say 1000 or so)
numbers in second growth redwood forests in northern California. They have not
been found (in numbers) in second growth fir forests typical of Oregon and
Washington. Apparently there is a difference between redwood and fir second
growth. Also, the status of the second growth population is not well know but
may be going down rather than up. There is also an issue of loss of second
growth redwood forests (which would not help). As always, things are not as
simple as we might like. Again, this information is three steps removed so take
it with a grain of salt.

Now, maybe someone who really knows will come out of the woodwork, correct my
misstatements and shed some light on the initial question.

Ray Newman PhoneNet: (612) 625-5704
Fisheries and Wildlife Internet: r...@finsandfur.fw.umn.edu
University of Minnesota BITNET:rmn%finsandfur.fw.umn.edu@UMNACVX
Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits prepares
Chance favors only the prepared mind -Pasteur

od...@horton.geog.ucsb.edu

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Oct 14, 1993, 11:20:59 PM10/14/93
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________________________
Richard Porter's post about "scince" [sic]
funded by Weyerhauser being as valid as that
funded by other sources brings to mind an experience
I had representing the County of Santa Barbara Resource
Management Department in trying to decide the significance
of a native grassland (native grasslands are rare in California
outside the Great Basin). A "money is no object" developer
hired a grassland
expert to testify that the grassland would be a temporary
phenomenon if left alone. Although presented as
scientific fact, this is a gross distortion
of what is known about native grasslands in our area,
as the biostitute (our term for the phenomenon here in
S.B.) was well aware. The grassland area has been approved
for development since it will, according to scientific
testimony, disappear.
My testimony that grasslands appear to
be stable in our area based on conversations with
C.H. Muller and others, and my own experience, and that native
grasses at the site in question had flourished since
the cessation of grazing a decade ago were dismissed
because my credentials are modest. I even reproduced
historical aerial photography that clearly showed that
coyote brush was diminishing at the site rather than
invading, as stated without evidence by the biostitute.
One of us came
away from the experience with a truckload of money, the
other depressed, frustrated, and reminded
that money indeed conquers all.

Any sensible person
would be suspicious of a finding by a lumber
company researcher that spotted owls are abundant in second
growth forest. It is an obvious conflict of
$interest$.
The same finding by an outsider would
not arouse much suspicion.

Just my honestly-earned .02 worth.
-- ^
Dennis Odion /---\ ,__o
Department of Geography / \ _ _-\_<,
University of California \(*)/'(*)_
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060 \_ ___...
(805)893-7044 \_ _/
od...@geog.ucsb.edu \_ _/
od...@voodoo.bitnet ^^^^^^
--

Richard Kiesling

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Oct 15, 1993, 12:19:46 AM10/15/93
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I would think that the important ecological question would be what role the
owls in second growth or new growth play in the population biology of the
species. The presence of young owls in marginal habitat would not be
indicative of a viable population, and I believe that some raptors sustain
high mortality rates within the juvenile period (e.g.; Red-tailed hawks).

I realize the example is imperfect, but if the issue (or goal) is conser-
vation of the species, the ecological focus should be on the reproductive
health of the population(s) involved.

Richard Kiesling
Ecosystem Assessment; TNRCC
Austin, TX 78753

R...@mbs.telesys.utexas.edu

Ken Risenhoover

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Oct 15, 1993, 9:15:05 AM10/15/93
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Regarding the spotted owls....

Hold the phone, before we set too many wheels in motion and create
smoke, shouldn't we wait to see if owls can survive and successfully
fledge young in "less than" old growth forest environments?
Certainly, it should not be surprising to find birds (especially young
dispersers) being displaced into nearby marginal areas. However,
if they cannot sustain themselves in these areas, they may still be in
jeopardy.

Ken Risenhoover
k...@orca.tamu.edu

Terry Morse

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Oct 15, 1993, 11:45:45 AM10/15/93
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In article <rmporter....@unixg.ubc.ca> rmpo...@unixg.ubc.ca (Richard Porter) writes:
>From: rmpo...@unixg.ubc.ca (Richard Porter)
>Subject: Re: Spotted owls - question
>Date: 14 Oct 93 18:32:36 GMT

>Terry Morse writes of the political characteristics of who funds and publishes
>"science". Does it matter. Is the "scince" funded by Weyerhauser less
>scitific (or scientifically meritless) because it was not funded by WWF or the
>NSF, or USFWS, etc ... My point is the ecological science, like economic
>science, or physical science or any bloody science is neutral, morally and
>politically.

[deletions]

Not necessarily. The source of the funding _may_ make a difference. See
the short article, "Blowing Smoke With Symposia" (_Science_ 1 October93, p.
26) concerning the suspect quality of non-peer-reviewed research sponsored
and funded by, among other interest groups, the tobacco industry, and the
way this research has been published and become part of scientific discourse
despite the lack of critical review. It is a legitimate concern.

>If spotted owls are in "new growth" then ecologists and biologists should
>(note the normative case) ask why they are there.

And whether and for how long they can persist there. One of the points I
made in my original posting.

>It is not the role of
>ecologists orof ecology to say that it is good or bad that they are there.
>That is up to youand me as individuals. When someone uses your science to
>advocate a position in resource allocation it is out of your hands.

Not if they are misusing, misquoting, or unfairly denigrating it. Then
it behooves you to point out the abuse.

>I would concur with Terry that if what "industry" funds is construed as
>unscientific or anti-scientific, then it calls into question the motivation
>for funding other published science.

Hence peer review, whatever its imperfections may be. I agree that
research funded by environmental groups should be subject to the same
scrutiny. As far as I know, most or all of the spotted owl research used by
environmentalists to present their case has been published in peer-reviewed
journals.

>richard m porter
>forest resources management
>university of british columbia

--Terry
Terry Morse
mor...@ccmail.orst.edu
***************************************************************************
Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.
-The Books of Bokonon
(from _Cat's Cradle_,
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
***************************************************************************

Christopher Dunn

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Oct 18, 1993, 9:12:14 AM10/18/93
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From conversations I have had with spotted owl researchers, there are several
interrelated reasons why owls are being found in greater numbers than expected
in second growth forest. The ultimate reason is that the birds are being
driven from the old-growth as it is logged. I.e., as the amount of old-growht
is reduced, the owls have to go somewhere. Just because they ARE found in
second growth does not mean they will successfully maintain populations over
the long-term. For one thing, the northern spotted owl feeds heavily on
flying squirrel, a prey species that is not found to any large extent in
second growth. Second, the flying squirrels feed on truffles and on a lichen
(Letharia vulpina) that grows on the bark of large ponderosa pines. The same
holds for the lichen used by the squirrels for nesting material (Bryoria
fremonti). These lichens and truffles are found almost exclusively in old-
growth stands. Appropriate numbers of truffles depends on decomposition of
trees (the pines and, as I should have stated above, white fir) and resultant
organic matter. Obviously, this is also a feature of old-growth.

Christopher Dunn
Argonne National Lab
e-mail: cd...@spatial.eid.anl.gov

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