Speak up for marbled murrelets

Speak up for marbled murrelets

Conservation Northwest / Oct 28, 2019 / Action Alert, Murrelet

WILD NW Action Alert #298: Tell the Board of Natural Resources to strengthen protections for endangered murrelets!

Washington’s marbled murrelets declined by 44 percent between 2001 and 2016. This may be our last chance to take action for the recovery of these endangered birds. With habitat loss as a principle threat, the Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must protect as much of their remaining and future suitable habitat as possible to help murrelets recover.

Marbled murrelets populations in Washington are declining rapidly. In order to recover, they need as much habitat protected as possible! Photo: Rick Bowers / Audubon

Marbled murrelets are small seabirds that nest in older forest habitat and feed in the Pacific Ocean. They do best in large, contiguous areas of coastal and near-coastal old-growth forest. Scientists estimate that their population is dropping by 4.4 percent every year, and if that rate continues, marbled murrelets could go locally extinct in our state.

Speak up for marbled murrelets today!

Nearly one year ago, we asked you to comment on the draft Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. Thank you to the nearly 200 people who took action! Now, the final Long-Term Conservation Strategy for marbled murrelets has been released, and the Board of Natural Resources (BNR) will decide on one of eight alternatives representing a range of approaches to long-term marbled murrelet habitat conservation.

We need you to tell the BNR to choose a strategy that will provide a better chance for murrelet recovery! Please use our simple form and take action today!

As a participating organization on Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz’s Marbled Murrelet Solutions Table, Conservation Northwest appreciates the long years and hard work that went into getting to this stage of the decision process.

Marbled murrelets depend on old forests for their nests. Protecting murrelets benefits forests, fish and many other species. Photo: USFWS

However, the BNR’s preferred alternative, Alternative H, does not have the habitat conservation requirements needed to reduce the chances that murrelets will disappear from the state completely. We need a conservation strategy that will not only stabilize, but also substantially increase the murrelet population, expand its geographical range and increase its resilience to both human and natural disturbances.

But murrelets aren’t the only ones who depend on state-managed forests—local communities do, too. Logging state trust lands in several rural portions of western Washington counties is an important source of revenue for basic services. We believe protecting murrelets and rural economies is possible and necessary. As a society, we should not be faced with the false choice of reducing vital services for people or causing significant loss of our natural heritage.

Please use our simple form and tell the BNR to choose an alternative that will meet the needs of rural communities while also giving marbled murrelets a fair shot at survival.

Suggested Comments

To the Board of Natural Resources:

Thank you for moving forward on a long-term strategy for the conservation of marbled murrelets. I’m writing to express my concerns regarding the proposed incidental take permit amendment, based on Alternative H. This alternative does not protect enough current and future marbled murrelet habitat to meet their recovery goals.

The proposed permit amendment conserves far less than what independent expert scientists, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended to prevent species loss. In this alternative, the total projected loss of habitat is 1,000 acres—we need a strategy that results in a net gain of murrelet habitat and murrelet population growth.

Additionally, the proposed amendment does not adequately consider the expected changes in the rate and intensity of disturbance from climate change. Much more habitat conservation is needed to protect murrelets against 50 years inevitable natural and human disturbances.

I support an alternative that will not only stabilize, but also substantially increase the rapidly-declining murrelet population, expand its geographic range, and increase its resilience to natural and human-caused disturbance. Alternative G protects all high-quality murrelet habitat and has more than double the amount of murrelet-specific conservation as Alternative H. Alternative F contains almost five times more. The conservation measures in Alternative H are clearly not enough.

More time is needed for a thorough and informed decision on the future of both marbled murrelets and rural communities. Instead of voting on a final decision in December, please take additional time to consider the newly-released Final environmental review.

This is a critical time to conserve Washington’s native species, and the DNR’s low-elevation, highly-productive lands near marine feeding grounds are vital to the murrelet’s unique habitat needs. In order to recover this imperiled species in Washington, this land must be better protected now.

I recognize the impact habitat conservation has on rural communities. I support the DNR’s efforts on the Solutions Table to find ways to create more economic opportunities and fund county services other than logging remaining murrelet habitat.

Thank you for considering Alternatives F or G instead of the preferred Alternative H, which are the only strategies that ensure marbled murrelets and their invaluable habitat will be here for future generations.




Coastal state forests like this one along the Clearwater River provide habitat for marbled murrelets, fishers, Roosevelt elk, salmon and many other species. Photo: Chase Gunnell