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Murrelet timeline

A timeline of federal protection actions around the Pacific Northwest's marbled murrelet. Murrelets nest in coastal old-growth conifers in the tree crotches of moss-covered, big upper limbs.

Old growth. Photo: Joel Skok
Old growth. Photo: Joel Skok

June 2013 - WA Department of Natural Resources develops a marbeled murrelet conservation strategy for old-growth habitat in western Washington. We asked you to comment by the July 2013 deadline. Thanks!

April 2013 - Federal protections upheld for murrelets when a federal court rejects timber industry's third attempt to eliminate critical habitat protections.

July 2009 - A second industry suit challenging murrelet protections is dismissed.

June 2009 - US Fish and Wildlife Service determines that marbled murrelets must be protected.

2008 - Habitat ruling put under review by courts.

2007 - Critical habitat slashed

Critical habitat is defined as "areas within the geographical area occupied by a species...on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection...essential for the conservation of the species."

September 2006 - The USFWS proposes eliminating 94% of currently designated critical habitat for the marbled murrelet, from 3,590,642 acres to 221,692 acres. The proposal only designates areas that are known to be occupied by murrelets and known to be essential to its survival. No marine areas are designated.

2004 - The Service's regional office is required to submit a status review finding, which was sent to the Washington D.C. office in April 2004. It stated that murrelets in Washington, Oregon, and California formed a distinct population from populations in Canada and Alaska and needed protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters contradicted the regional office's finding by rewriting the status review to indicate that the tri-state marbled murrelet populations do not qualify as a distinct population.

2003 - EDAW, Inc. is awarded the contract to conduct the status review and releases it to the public in May.  Among many other things, the review found that the marbled murrelet population was still in decline and continued to warrant federal protection. Read the complete 5-year scientific status review

2002 - The American Forest Resource Council filed a lawsuit to force the USFWS to conduct a status review of the marbled murrelet, in an attempt to open up protected old-growth forests to logging. The Service did not defend the lawsuit, but instead reached a settlement agreement requiring the review to be submitted by April of 2004 and conducted by an independent consulting firm.

1996 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates critical habitat for murrelets on 3,590,642 acres in Washington, Oregon, and California, required by the ESA in recovery plans for endangered species.

1992 - Marbled murrelets are listed as threatened in Washington, Oregon, and California under the Endangered Species Act. Marbled murrelet fact sheet

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