222-16-085 - Northern spotted owl habitats

222-16-085. Northern spotted owl habitats

(1) Suitable spotted owl habitat means forest stands which meet the description of old forest habitat, sub-mature habitat or young forest marginal habitat found in (a) and (b) of this subsection. Old forest habitat is the highest quality, followed in descending order by sub-mature habitat and young forest marginal habitat.

(a) Old forest habitat means habitat that provides for all the characteristics needed by northern spotted owls for nesting, roosting, foraging, and dispersal, described as stands with:

(i) A canopy closure of 60% or more and a layered, multispecies canopy where 50% or more of the canopy closure is provided by large overstory trees (typically, there should be at least 75 trees greater than 20 inches dbh per acre, or at least 35 trees 30 inches dbh or larger per acre); and

(ii) Three or more snags or trees 20 inches dbh or larger and 16 feet or more in height per acre with various deformities such as large cavities, broken tops, dwarf mistletoe infections, and other indications of decadence; and

(iii) More than two fallen trees 20 inches dbh or greater per acre and other woody debris on the ground.

(b) Sub-mature habitat and young forest marginal habitat. Sub-mature habitat provides all of the characteristics needed by northern spotted owls for roosting, foraging, and dispersal. Young forest marginal habitat provides some of the characteristics needed by northern spotted owls for roosting, foraging, and dispersal. Sub-mature habitat and young forest marginal habitat stands can be characterized based on the forest community, canopy closure, tree density and height, vertical diversity, snags and cavity trees, dead and down wood, and shrubs or mistletoe infection. They are described in the following tables:

(i) Western Washington spotted owl sub-mature and young forest marginal habitat characteristics.

Characteristic

Habitat Type

Sub-Mature

Young Forest Marginal

Forest Community

conifer-dominated or conifer-hardwood (greater than or equal to 30% conifer)

conifer-dominated or conifer-hardwood (greater than or equal to 30% conifer)

Canopy Closure

greater than or equal to 70% canopy closure

greater than or equal to 70% canopy closure

  

115-280 trees/acre (greater than or equal to 4 inches dbh) with

115-280 trees/acre (greater than or equal to 4 inches dbh) with

Tree Density and Height

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 85 feet high

OR

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 85 feet high

OR

Vertical Diversity

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 85 feet high with

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 85 feet high with

  

2 or more layers and

2 or more layers and

  

25 - 50% intermediate trees

25 - 50% intermediate trees

Snags/Cavity Trees

greater than or equal to 3/acre (greater than or equal to 20 inches dbh and 16 feet in height)

greater than or equal to 2/acre (greater than or equal to 20 inches dbh and 16 feet in height) OR greater than or equal to 10% of the ground covered with 4 inch diameter or larger wood, with 25-60% shrub cover

Dead, Down

Wood

N/A

Shrubs

N/A

The values indicated for canopy closure and tree density may be replaced with a quadratic mean diameter of greater than 13 inches and a basal area of greater than 100.

(ii) Eastern Washington spotted owl sub-mature and young forest marginal habitat characteristics.

  

Habitat Type

Characteristic

Sub-Mature

Young Forest Marginal

(closed canopy)

Young Forest Marginal

(open canopy)

Forest Community

greater than or equal to 40% fir

greater than or equal to 40% fir

greater than or equal to 40% fir

Tree Density and Height

110-260 trees/acre (greater than or equal to 4 inches dbh) with

100 - 300 trees/acre (greater than or equal to 4 inches dbh)

100 - 300 trees/acre (greater than or equal to 4 inches dbh)

  

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 90 feet high

OR

dominants/codominants equal to or greater than 70 feet high

dominants/codominants equal to or greater than 70 feet high

Vertical Diversity

dominants/codominants greater than or equal to 90 feet high with 2 or more layers and

2 or more layers

2 or more layers

  

25 - 50% intermediate trees

25 - 50% intermediate trees

25 - 50% intermediate trees

Canopy Closure

greater than or equal to 70% canopy closure

greater than or equal to 70% canopy closure

greater than or equal to 50% canopy closure

Snags/Cavity Trees

greater than or equal to 3/acre (greater than or equal to 20 inches dbh 16 feet in height)

OR

N/A

2/acre or more (greater than or equal to 20 inches dbh 16 feet in height)

Mistletoe

high or moderate infection

N/A

high or moderate infection

Dead, Down Wood

greater than or equal to 5% of the ground covered with 4 inch diameter or larger wood

N/A

N/A

The values indicated for canopy closure and tree density may be replaced with the following:

(A) For sub-mature a quadratic mean diameter of greater than 13 inches and a relative density of greater than 44;

(B) For young forest marginal a quadratic mean diameter of greater than 13 inches and a relative density of greater than 28.

(2) Spotted owl dispersal habitat means habitat stands that provide the characteristics needed by northern spotted owls for dispersal. Such habitat provides protection from the weather and predation, roosting opportunities, and clear space below the forest canopy for flying. Timber stands that provide for spotted owl dispersal have the following characteristics:

(a) For western Washington, timber stands 5 acres in size or larger with:

(i) 70% or more canopy cover; and

(ii) 70% or more of the stand in conifer species greater than 6 inches dbh; and

(iii) A minimum of 130 trees per acre with a dbh of at least 10 inches or a basal area of 100 square feet of 10 inch dbh or larger trees; and

(iv) A total tree density of 300 trees per acre or less; and

(v) A minimum of 20 feet between the top of the understory vegetation and the bottom of the live canopy, with the lower boles relatively clear of dead limbs.

(b) For eastern Washington, timber stands 5 acres in size or larger with:

(i) 50% or more canopy closure; and

(ii) A minimum of 50 conifer trees per acre, with a dbh of 6 inches or more in even-aged stands or 4 inches or more in uneven-aged stands, and an average tree height of 65 feet or more; and

(iii) Total tree density of 200 trees per acre or less; and

(iv) A minimum of 20 feet between the top of the understory vegetation and the bottom of the live canopy, with the lower boles relatively clear of dead limbs; or

(v) Conifer stands with a quadratic mean diameter of 9 inches or more and a relative density of 33 or more or a canopy closure of 55% or more.

(c) Suitable spotted owl habitat provides all of the required characteristics needed by spotted owls for dispersal.

(d) Landowners may submit information to support an alternate definition of dispersal habitat for review and approval by the department in consultation with the department of fish and wildlife.

Statutory Authority: Chapters 76.09 and 34.05 RCW. 96-12-038, § 222-16-085, filed 5/31/96, effective 7/1/96.

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