Potential Impact to Species
GAO-03-211R: Published: Oct 31, 2002. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 2002.
The United States/Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in March 2001. As part of the preparation process for renegotiating the agreement, the United States Trade Representative requested public comment on softwood lumber trade issues between the United States and Canada and on Canadian softwood lumbering practices. The comments received included allegations that Canadian lumbering and forestry practices were affecting animal species with U.S./Canadian ranges that are listed as threatened or endangered in the United States. To consider these comments as well as provide useful information to the U.S. Trade Representative in the renegotiations, the Department of the Interior, with the Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) assistance, prepared a conservation status report on selected species that may be affected by the new agreement. GAO reviewed the FWS' preliminary conclusions and found that, in compiling the information for the Department of the Interior's 2001 conservation report for the U.S. Trade Representative, FWS relied chiefly on previously published material and internal agency documents, such as individual species recovery plans, Federal Register listing information, other administrative records, and public comments received. The report underestimates the extent of cooperation between U.S. and Canadian officials to monitor, protect, and recover transboundary populations of species listed as threatened or endangered in the United States. The report also gives little attention to certain threats to the species, such as predation, residential and commercial development, and human recreational activities, that, according to governmental wildlife officials, are equal or greater threats to transboundary species recovery than, for example, logging and logging roads.