Shocking, we know: to think that a recovery plan drafted by Bush government "scientists" (see political cronies) would be deemed "deeply flawed" by an independent peer review. Yet that was the principal finding of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-appointed panel of Society of Conservation Biology and American Ornithologists' Union scientists, which stated that the plan ignored over 20 years of research about the northern spotted owl.
The plan, they charged, would lead to reduced efforts to protect the endangered owl and its declining habitat - in the Northwest's last stands of old-growth timber. In a letter addressed to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, several Democratic lawmakers - including Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee - accused former deputy assistant interior secretary Julie MacDonald and other members of the Washington Oversight Committee (a group that inserted a provision in the plan that would've allowed for more logging) of tampering with the recovery plan.
"The politics trumped the science, and independent scientists have now blown the whistle. White House fingerprints are all over this (recovery plan). This administration will distort science to get more gas out of the Rockies, more oil out of the Bering Sea and more timber out of the forests of the Northwest," said Rep. Jay Inslee.
The final recovery plan, which U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials promise will be based on the best science, is expected to be released next spring. For a damning list of the peer review's findings, be sure to check out the full report here (it ain't pretty).
See also: ::Marijuana Crops Bad for Forests, Spotted Owl, ::Proposed Logging Puts Critical Spotted Owl Habitat at Risk
Image courtesy of Melina Yingling