Threatened and Endangered Species
Across the United States and Canada, hundreds of species of plants and animals are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species
Act or the Canadian Species at Risk Act. Forests that we own or manage provide habitat for a number of these
species. Some of the threatened or endangered species that inhabit areas near or within our U.S. timberlands include the
northern spotted owl, the marbled murrelet, a number of salmon species, bull trout and steelhead trout in the Pacific Northwest,
and the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, Red Hills salamander and American burying beetle in the Southeast.
Where these species are present, we design our forest-management practices to avoid harming them. This includes following
all applicable state, provincial and federal laws. We also engage in
cooperative research to expand our understanding of the needs of these species.
FORMAL HABITAT CONSERVATION PLANS
We have formal habitat conservation plans or a safe harbor agreement for four threatened or endangered species in the United
States. These long-term plans minimize and mitigate negative effects on threatened and endangered species from forestry
or other land-use activities.
Northern Spotted Owl in Oregon and Washington
On our 211,594-acre tree farm near Coos Bay, Oregon, we manage our forests in planned patterns of reserves and harvest areas
to enable owls to disperse—that is, move from one location to another. This complements areas protected for owl nesting
and feeding on adjacent publicly owned forests. In Washington and the remainder of our ownership in Oregon, we manage forests
to protect spotted owls, but not under a formal habitat conservation plan.
Sustainability in Action
Owl be back: Habitat Conservation Plan offers hope to northern spotted owls in Southwest Oregon
Seventeen years after its creation, Weyerhaeuser's first habitat conservation plan, created to help recover spotted owls
in Oregon, is working even better than expected. Forests of the Coos Bay Tree Farm managed by Weyerhaeuser under the plan
now provide both logs and owl habitat. Spotted owl populations in this region appear to be holding their own.
That's significant, given the owl's long-precarious perch on the Endangered Species Act threatened species list. Listed
as threatened in 1990, the bird became a symbol of a controversy that was frequently oversimplified as owls versus loggers.
In 1995, Weyerhaeuser worked with federal agencies to create a 50-year HCP to manage our Coos Bay, Ore., forestlands for
spotted owl habitat as well as timber harvest. In effect, the plan granted Weyerhaeuser a 50-year harvest permit — if we
could make room for spotted owls too.
One key to the plan's success was the creation of dispersal habitat — forested areas that might not have the older trees
or structural characteristics that encourage spotted owls to nest, but provide cover and foraging opportunities for juvenile
birds as they travel to the stands they prefer. Forty percent of the 209,000 acres in the HCP must provide dispersal habitat
by 2015, with that percentage maintained through 2045. Company foresters, particularly Coos Bay resource planner Stuart
Stein, have been working toward that goal.
"By maintaining dispersal habitat, we're providing the birds with stepping stones," says Stein, "and those areas must meet
specific requirements to qualify. They must be at least 70 percent conifers, at least 70 feet tall, at least 10 inches in
diameter, and so forth. My objective is to make sure every acre we plant is — over time — capable of meeting those conditions.
It takes a very robust inventory system, careful planning, and everyone on the team focused on the target."
Current projections indicate the company will exceed the 40 percent target. And a collaborative database of owl observations,
many of them collected through surveys overseen by Weyerhaeuser wildlife biologist Mike Rochelle, shows that the birds are
using the dispersal areas as they're intended.
"Even though the HCP puts a focus on dispersal habitat, we've consistently observed spotted owls successfully nesting, foraging
and reproducing at levels comparable to those in 1990," says Kevin Godbout, director of external and regulatory affairs
for Western Timberlands. "We're not only growing more dispersal habitat, but we also continue to produce juveniles, which
was unexpected and has been a bonus in assisting in spotted owl recovery."
Spotted owl populations in the northern portion of their range are declining, largely due to stiff competition from invading
barred owls. Barred owls are appearing near Coos Bay, too, but Godbout says, "The climatic conditions and available food
resources in the southern part of the spotted owl's range are more favorable for survival, so we're hoping that over time
we'll attain more of a balance between the two competitor species."
American Burying Beetle in Oklahoma and Arkansas
Our forests provide habitat used by these beetles, and under our plan, we adjust our practices on 31,534 acres to conserve
them by limiting the acres harvested and minimizing soil disturbance.
The Red Hills Salamander in Alabama
Our forests provide 823 acres of salamander habitat. Under the plan, we leave forested buffer strips and use selective harvesting
to maintain at least two-thirds forest canopy.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker in Louisiana and North Carolina
In North Carolina, these woodpeckers nest on or near Weyerhaeuser land. Our forests provide foraging habitat and cavity
trees, protected from harvest. In North Carolina, we work with federal agencies through a memorandum of understanding.
In Louisiana, Weyerhaeuser has a Safe Harbor Agreement with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in partnership with
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As part of this agreement, the Company agrees to maintain a baseline population of red-cockaded
woodpeckers on Company-owned lands; this includes habitat management to maintain required forest conditions for this species.
Sustainability in Action
Return of the red wolf
In April 2010, five pups were born to a pair of radio-collared red wolves known as the Weyerhaeuser Pack. Born on company
timberlands in Hyde County, N.C., the littermates are descendants of the last 14 pure red wolves plucked from dwindling
habitat in the 1970s by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists.
One of only three wolf species in the world, the red wolf, intermediate in size and appearance between the more familiar
coyote and the gray wolf, once roamed throughout the central and southeastern United States. But by the mid-20th century,
the lean and lanky animals were looking down the barrel of extinction due to habitat loss and predator-control programs.
The USFWS was legally obligated to intervene.
Not unlike sustainably managing timberlands, restoring populations of critically endangered species is a long-term proposition.
Starting with a captive-breeding program, the ultimate goal was to return the red wolf — one of the first mammals
listed under the Endangered Species Act — to its natural habitat and help build at least three self-sustaining populations.
From those 14 founding members, the first litter was born in captivity in 1977. Ten years later, after ongoing success in
captive breeding, four pairs of the wolves were outfitted with radio collars and released into the Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. A year after the reintroduction, the first wild pups were born.
Today, 29 identified packs (a pack is generally one or two adults and offspring) occupy the Red Wolf Recovery Area, which
encompasses 1.7 million acres of public and private land — including Weyerhaeuser timberlands — in five North
Carolina counties. There are more than 100 red wolves in the wild, with approximately 160 in captive-breeding facilities.
The wolves' dispersal from their original site in the refuge was inevitable, and in the mid-'90s, Weyerhaeuser granted the
USFWS access to its land to aid in monitoring the animals, says Dr. Jessica Homyack, a wildlife scientist on Weyerhaeuser's
Southern environmental research and development team.
In 2009, a formalized agreement was established between the two organizations, and now four university red-wolf research
projects are taking place on Weyerhaeuser lands. Homyack manages those relationships along with her other responsibilities,
which include conducting research on wildlife populations and assisting Weyerhaeuser in maintaining environmental responsibilities.
"Having the wolves, especially a breeding pair, on our land is definitely positive for the company and for the wolves,"
says Homyack. "It confirms that managed forests can provide important habitat for many species, including those that are
threatened or endangered."
ADDITIONAL ACTIONS WE TAKE
We also take action to protect certain sensitive species in addition to the formal habitat conservation plan. Examples include:
Salmon in Washington and Oregon
Our forests are providing a better habitat for salmon as we implement state regulations that Weyerhaeuser helped promote.
We work with government agencies (state, federal and local), Native American tribes, environmental groups and other landowners
to protect and restore declining salmon populations. Actions include leaving trees to provide shade and protect the integrity
of forest streams, placing logs in streams to create pools and other structures beneficial to fish, installing culverts
and bridges on forest roads to permit fish passage, and upgrading roads to keep silt out of streams.
Neotropical Migrants and Other Songbirds in the Southern United States
Our land and forestry practices provide breeding habitat for many migrating songbirds as well as year-round habitat for
resident birds. One example was documented in an Arkansas
study by the U.S. Forest Service, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, University of Arkansas at Monticello
and Weyerhaeuser. The study found twice as many
species of birds, including migratory breeding birds, in a Weyerhaeuser-managed pine forest than in an unmanaged natural
pine-hardwood forest. In addition, the abundance of conservation-priority birds was highest on the Weyerhaeuser managed
Mountain Woodland Caribou in Alberta
Forests that Weyerhaeuser manages in Alberta provide important habitat for mountain woodland caribou. This subspecies prefers
large, contiguous areas of forest (especially older forests). In 2004, Weyerhaeuser began a five-year deferral of timber
harvest on 82,000 hectares (202,000 acres) while the province researched and developed a caribou recovery plan. This deferral
has now been incorporated into a forest management plan that considers critical caribou habitat requirements and minimizes
harvesting in those areas. Weyerhaeuser has been a leader in the work to assist caribou recovery in Alberta. To date, the
company has funded $1 million worth of caribou habitat research conducted by the University of Alberta and has worked with
government ministries and other stakeholders. Mountain pine beetle infestations have presented a new threat to caribou.
Weyerhaeuser forest management plans address the pine beetle while at the same time incorporating caribou needs.