Triplicate staff

Citizens can take more time to comment on a controversial plan to recover the threatened northern spotted owl.

The U.S. Fish andamp; Wildlife Service extended the public comment period until Aug. 24, following several requests - including one from a group of Pacific Northwest congressmen - to allow more time for public input.

The proposal has sparked debate, marking the first recovery plan to include two options. Members of the service's appointed recovery task force have complained that the Bush administration influenced the outcome by downplaying habitat loss and overplaying the threat from the aggressive barred owl.

The recovery plan comes as the U.S. Fish andamp; Wildlife Service also proposes cutting about 1.6 million acres from the total amount of land designated as critical habitat for the owl in the Pacific Northwest.

After collecting information on the recovery plan, the service will respond to comments and could release a final recovery plan for the owl in April 2008.

To comment, visit or write to NSO Recovery Plan, U.S. Fish andamp; Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 911 NE 11th Ave., Portland, Ore., 97232.