Obama administration weighs in on NW spotted owl

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Obama administration is ready to take its shot at one of the nation's long-running conservation problems: how to save the spotted owl from extinction.

For two decades, the bird has been at the center of legal and political battles in the Pacific Northwest.

Its numbers are still declining, and it faces new competition from a bigger migrant from the East Coast, the barred owl.

On Thursday, the government is to release a plan to save the spotted owl and also allow logging in national forests -- a balance neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations were able to strike.

The plan won't be the last word. It could go to court. And yet to come are decisions about setting aside critical habitat for the spotted owl and killing barred owls.