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Objections to Watershed Protection Project Filed Over Spotted Owl Impact

Two environmental groups have filed objections to a forest-thinning project designed to protect Flagstaff’s watershed from wildfire and flooding. The groups say the plan would have negative effects on the threatened Mexican spotted owl. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity are calling on the Coconino National Forest to lessen tree-thinning work in the owl’s habitat. They say logging noise from the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project could stop the animals from mating, and the owls could be killed by forest-road construction.

Officials with the Forest Service and the City of Flagstaff say several measures are being taken to minimize the project’s owl impacts. Biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute will monitor populations of the animals throughout the multi-year thinning work.

The $10 million Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project was passed by Flagstaff voters in 2012.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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