A threatened sea bird that relies on coastal old growth forests to nest will be getting further protections in Oregon. This week, the Board of Forestry agreed to join with other state agencies to create a plan to conserve marbled murrelet habitat on state and private lands.
Environmental groups petitioned the state earlier this year to protect the murrelet, which is on both the federal and state endangered species lists. The Oregon Board of Forestry initially said “no,” but reversed its decision after the groups went to the courts.
Now state agencies will start developing a plan to identify and protect murrelets.
“We hoping for a comprehensive analysis of where does the habitat exist. What measures, or what incentives, can be put in place to preserve this habitat or encourage landowners, if they’re logging, to go into other areas?” says Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands, one of the petitioning conservation groups.
Cady says now surveys for murrelets are done only when there’s a timber sale proposed. He says taking inventory of old growth habitat will benefit other wildlife as well.
“It’s going to be not only relevant for marbled murrelets, but for any other old growth related or dependent species – spotted owls, red tree voles or even coho salmon,” Cady says.
The Oregon Forest and Industries Council is not pleased with the board’s decision.
“We’re disappointed in the process here,” says OFIC Public Affairs Director Sara Duncan.
Duncan says the Oregon Board of Forestry should be allowed to set their own agenda and not have their hands forced by environmental interests.
Washington is further along in developing protections for the seabird. The state is currently accepting public comment on a draft plan. The state says having a plan in place will provide long-term certainty for timber revenue and wildlife protections on state lands.