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Murrelet habitat going under the saw?

Nov 02, 2012
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Nov 2 - Conservation Northwest and twenty other conservation groups are urging the Obama Administration to halt a recent agreement and maintain protections for nearly 4 million acres of critical old-growth habitat for marbled murrelets.

Murrelet habitat going under the saw?

The marbled murrelet nests in craggy-topped coastal old growth forests. Photo: USFWS

“The administration can and should reverse course,” said Kristen Boyles, staff attorney with Earthjustice. “Murrelets need protected habitat to survive, not a private deal to gut protections that have been in place and working for 16 years.”

In the last decade, logging has destroyed more than a quarter million acres of old-growth nesting habitat for marbled murrelets, 80% on private or state land. Now this little seabird risks losing nearly 4 million acres of habitat crucial to their survival.

On Oct. 23, 2012, Conservation Northwest and twenty other conservation organizations sent a letter for murrelets urging the Obama administration to halt an agreement that would eliminate protection from 3,887,800 acres of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet until 2018.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to enter into the agreement with the timber industry to eliminate protections was entirely voluntary. There was no court order or substantive argument in the case and the agreement has yet to be approved by a federal court – meaning the Obama administration can still reverse the agreement before valuable old-growth forests are lost.

Recent research shows that marbled murrelets have been declining by about 4% every year since 2002. The murrelet was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1992 because of the loss of mature and old-growth forests to logging, believed to be the main factor in their decline.

The marbled murrelet is an intrepid little seabird that flies up to 50 miles inland to nest and raise its young in the high boughs of old-growth coastal western hemlock, Sitka spruce, or Douglas fir.

View the murrelet protection timeline. It's been a bumpy ride!

Other groups on the letter urging protection of critical habitat for murrelets include the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, and  Endangered Species Coalition.

You too can contact the President. Please see the 9/23/12 letter for marbled murrelets sent by Conservation Northwest on your behalf. You can also use the CBD action alert.
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