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NORTHERN SPOTTED OWL (Strix occidentalis caurina)

Appendix 3

Conceptual Proposal: Spotted Owl Recovery Fund

Background

The Spotted Owl is threatened with imminent extirpation throughout its entire range in British Columbia. The species has been designated as Endangered by COSEWIC and is red-listed in British Columbia as a candidate for legal protection under the provincial Wildlife Act. In 2001, the Spotted Owl was assigned the highest priority species requiring recovery efforts in Canada.

In 1997, the provincial government implemented a Spotted Owl Management Plan (SOMP), anticipating that the population would stabilize and recover over the next 100 years. A population decline of 70% between 1992 and 2002 suggests that SOMP may be inadequate to stabilize the population over the short term, and extirpation is possible within the next 5 years. It is estimated that fewer than 30 breeding pairs of owls exist in British Columbia.

A Spotted Owl Recovery Team (SORT) was re-established in 2002 to address recent scientific information and develop a revised Recovery Plan for the species by 2005. The team includes members from the ministries of Water, Land and Air Protection, Sustainable Resource Management, and Forests, the Canadian Wildlife Service, Simon Fraser University, BC Environmental Network, the forest industry, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District. A Recovery Action Group has been established to develop a Recovery Fund of financial resources to sustain full implementation of the long-term recovery efforts needed to prevent extirpation.

Proposal

The provincial government will establish a Committee, either as a Recovery Action Group or independent from SORT, and empower the committee to oversee fundraising, allocations, and other expenditures of the Spotted Owl Recovery Fund. The Committee will liaise with SORT and ensure that allocations and expenditures are consistent with SORT recommendations. Committee membership will be voluntary and selection will be based on funding resource commitments of the various parties, and/or as deemed appropriate by SORT and/or government. The chair of SORT will sit as a Committee member.

The Committee will establish a public trust fund, as a non-profit organization, for the sole purpose of supporting Spotted Owl recovery efforts identified by SORT. A not-for-profit organization will be contracted by the Committee for the purpose of trust fund management and will not be permitted to use the funds without Committee approval.

SORT will be responsible for identifying funding priorities, reviewing proposals, and providing recommendations to the Committee for funding allocations and expenditures.

Through partnerships with corporate, federal, and provincial government agencies, as well as other funding sources and public donations, the goal of the trust fund is to provide a long-term sustained funding source for recovery efforts. This goal includes securing up to $20 million as a seed source to provide long-term benefits from interest and investments that provide a sustained funding source (e.g., annual operating budget of $1 million). Achieving this seed source, in consideration of immediate allocation needs for recovery efforts, may require many years to attain.

It is proposed that the provincial government, in partnership with other agencies and other funding sources and public donations, support this initiative and provide annual contributions to the fund until the seed source goal has been achieved.

Purpose

A single collaborative trust fund with a sustained funding source is essential to ensure that priority recovery efforts identified by SORT are implemented in a timely manner to prevent the extirpation of the Spotted Owl. These recovery efforts are expected to be required for at least 25 years.

A single source of funding for Spotted Owl Recovery will prevent duplicate proposals sent to multiple funding sources, eliminate under-funded proposals caused by a dependence on multiple funding sources, and provide a mechanism to ensure that the proposals funded meet SORT priorities. A single source also reduces the need by various funding agencies to annually request, review, and prioritize Spotted Owls proposals.

Potential Partners

BC provincial government
Federal government
Greater Vancouver Regional District
Forestindustries
Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
Habitat Conservation Trust Fund
World Wildlife Fund
Vancouver Foundation
BC Conservation Foundation (e.g., not-for-profit organization and fund manager)
VanCity Credit Union (e.g., trust fund holder)
Ethical funds (e.g., trust fund investment manager)

Other Potential Funding Sources

Public donations
Non-compliance forestry fines
Service fees

Eligible Activities

The Spotted Owl Trust Fund will be divided into four funding categories, with donations distributed among all four categories as determined by the Committee, or as specified by the donor. The four categories are research and inventory, habitat recovery, population recovery, and effectiveness monitoring.

Research and Inventory

  • Monitoring population trends--including mortality, reproduction, etc.
  • Habitat requirements--including home range, amounts and quality of habitat.
  • Habitat and population modeling--assess habitat and population over time.
  • Inventories--to determine range, distribution, and abundance.
  • Predator/competitor/prey associations--including studies on Northern Flying Squirrels, Barred Owls, and Great Horned Owls.

Habitat Recovery

  • Developing guidelines for the creation and enhancement of suitable habitat.
  • Support forest companies in the creation and enhancement of suitable habitat.
  • Workshops and training on forest practices that benefit Spotted Owls and their prey.

Population Recovery

  • Operational support for captive breeding facility.
  • Capture and translocation of owls.
  • Annual status reports.

Effectiveness Monitoring

  • Review, assessment, and revisions to management/recovery plans.
  • Compliance and enforcement.
  • Review and monitor the effectiveness of recovery efforts.
  • Adaptive management.