the reason for the panel process?
The US Fish and
Wildlife Service intends to complete a status review for the Northern
Spotted Owl during 2004. The panel process will bring together a
group of nationally recognized scientific experts, to evaluate the
scientific materials currently available, and to prepare a written
report on these data. The report will compare risks faced by the
owl in 2004 with those at the time of listing under the Endangered
Species Act. The panel is composed of independent technical experts
who are committed to using impartial and independent scientific
analysis. The Service may use information presented to and by the
panel in preparing their own documents for the status review.
SEI is committed to the use of impartial science of the highest
standard. SEI staff will facilitate the scientific discussions,
ensuring that all appropriate information is presented. SEI will
also ensure that the independent role of the panel is maintained.
SEI staff will help prepare materials under panel guidance. Ultimately
the panel bears responsibility for the final report.
SEI's position on the listing of the Northern Spotted Owl?
SEI, its staff, and the scientific panel will not make any
recommendation on whether the Northern Spotted Owl should remain
listed under the Endangered Species Act, or whether all or part
of the species should change status. Ultimately, the technical materials
will lay out the risks faced by the species, including the uncertainties
associated with these risks. It will then be a matter for the Service
to evaluate these and other considerations to determine status of
SEI neutrality ensured?
SEI is a national science-oriented organization that supports
many different parties in various projects. The reputation of the
group hinges upon maintaining neutrality on all projects.
Who is on
The panel comprises seven nationally recognized experts in
different fields. All are paid by SEI for their participation in
the process. They have all committed to providing an impartial opinion
on technical issues.
SEI alone selects the panel. Different parties have suggested
potential scientists. All of these were evaluated, together with
SEI's own suggestions, and selected from the National Conservation
Science Network. Several senior scientists around the country were
also asked for nominations. SEI then selected among the suitable,
panel advise the federal agencies on what to do?
The panel will not make any recommendations on actions to the
federal agencies or others. The panel's role is to evaluate technical
material. The panel will be instructed not to express any opinion
on listing, what would constitute appropriate actions, funding,
or any other policy decision.
This process is similar to peer review, in that science will
be evaluated for completeness, competence and accuracy. It is possible
that formal peer review will follow the preparation of the final
documents. SEI will not administer such final review.
panel vote on issues?
The panel will probably not vote on any issue. An important
part of the process is the open discussion of materials and data.
Where the panel's opinion is sought, for instance on the adequacy
of data, the panel may either respond collectively or (if they do
not all agree) separately.
the panel deal with uncertainty and risk?
Scientific data always carry a level of uncertainty. An important
function of the panel will be to provide an opinion on the levels
of uncertainty associated with different data sets, and the potential
risks that these uncertainties cause. However it is not the panel's
role to determine whether these risks are acceptable.
will be made by the panel?
No management decisions will be made during the panel process.
It will be a discussion of technical issues only. The panel will
be instructed to limit their comments to scientific evaluation of
data, models or theories.
attend a panel meeting?
Although this is not a formal public process, it is SEI's intent
that all interested parties should have the opportunity of attending
the meetings. For planning purposes, it will be important for probable
attendees to inform SEI of the fact.
we discuss at the meeting?
The purpose of these meetings is to evaluate scientific material.
SEI staff will prepare and circulate materials prior to the meeting,
and will guide discussion at the meeting itself. Panelists, staffers,
and others have all been instructed to avoid discussion of policy
or decision-making. These will not be the basis of any formal discussions
at the meetings. We ask that attendees respect the goal of the process,
which is focused solely on the technical issues; other forums will
allow public comment on economics, forest plans etc.
present technical material?
Parties interested in presenting technical information are encouraged
to contact SEI staff prior to the panel meetings, so that we can
determine how to incorporate appropriate discussion. There will
be ample time at each meeting for relevant material to be discussed.
Can I submit
This is not a formal government process. SEI has no role in determining
what will happen regarding listing under ESA. Those persons interested
in submitting comments on policy should send them to the Service,
at the appropriate time. Technical comments will be welcomed by
SEI up until the report is finalized.
I remain informed of the process?
SEI will maintain a list of interested parties and contact them
with project updates, including the place and time of upcoming meetings.
SEI will also prepare minutes from each meeting and circulate them.
SEI has developed this website where minutes, background materials,
announcements and other documents will be posted.