Forest Guidelines For Goshawks May Not Help
Here’s the link
And here’s an excerpt:
“Our forest plans require it,” he said. “But that would be a pain” if the existing guidelines don’t actually help the goshawks successfully rear more chicks. “We do have different prescriptions for the goshawk areas. In those breeding areas we know they typically have a higher (tree) density. So we have prescriptions for that. We’re trying to manage the future forest. One of the big concerns is whether we’re going to have adequate canopy cover — so we’re really managing groups of trees and also providing for those interspaces and managing for their prey.”
#But the NAU study raises questions about whether biologists yet know enough to micro-manage the forest for the benefit of any individual species.
#The goshawk and the Mexican Spotted Owl for years have fluttered about at the center of the legal and political fight about the future of the forest. The agile, crazy-orange-eyed goshawk is nearly as large as a red tailed hawk, but can maneuver deftly through the thick forest. In open areas, they tend to lose out to the red tails — which circle overhead looking for prey rather than perching on tree branches for a quick swoop to the ground.
#The now nearly defunct timber industry in Arizona made most of its money on cutting the big, old growth trees associated with those species and others like the Kaibab squirrel and the Allen’s lappet-browed bat. With most of those trees reduced to two-by-fours, the timber industry had a hard time making money on the smaller trees that remained in dangerous profusion.
#The Centers for Biological Diversity has repeatedly sued to prevent timber sales that included a large number of old growth pines greater than 16 inches in diameter at about chest height. For instance, earlier this year the Centers for Biological Diversity successfully blocked a timber sale on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the grounds that the 25,000-acre sale would include about 8,000 old-growth trees — even though such trees account for only about 3 percent of the trees.
#The NAU study demonstrated that biologists still don’t really understand what species like goshawks need.
#None of the sites studied very closely matched the guidelines, which call for clusters of giant, old-growth trees and nearby areas with underbrush likely to result in high populations of 14 different prey species.
#Although little true old-growth ponderosa pine forest remains in Arizona, the researchers expected to find that the more closely the conditions around the nest area resembled that prescription — the more chicks the goshawks would produce. In fact, the more closely the forest matched the prescription the fewer chicks the hawks reared.
#That doesn’t mean the goshawks don’t prefer nesting in big, old growth trees. But it does mean that they’re not as sensitive to the prey populations in the area or the nearby forest conditions as biologists had expected.
But my favorite quotes are:
The NAU research now throws into question many key assumptions built in ponderous legal strictures of existing forest plans.
#“The results raise questions about the decision to implement the goshawk guidelines on most Forest Service lands in Arizona and New Mexico,” the researchers concluded.
#However, the Forest Service remains legally bound to the detailed guidelines now cast in the legal concrete of adopted forest plans.
“Ponderous legal strictures” and “legal concrete of adopted forest plans”, indeed. The old conundrum – while some people look for certainty of protection in plans, others look for flexibility to respond to changing conditions. Can both sides ever be happy?