Marbled Murrelet Chick — U.S. Forest Service

Eleven timber sales and all logging activities in known occupied marbled murrelet sites in the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott State Forests have been halted due to the threat of harm to marbled murrelets – a threatened seabird that is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The ruling issued November 26th stems from a case that Crag and other attorneys are litigating on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Audubon Society of Portland.  The case asserts that Oregon’s logging practices are harming marbled murrelets and the ruling halting logging will remain in place until the case is resolved.

Ground truthing sale in the Elliott

Since the case was filed, Oregon has voluntarily suspended timber sales on more than 1,600 acres of older forest in marbled murrelet habitat in the three state forests.  In issuing a preliminary injunction to halt the logging, Chief Judge Aiken concluded the State’s voluntary suspensions do not go far enough, writing, “Because the suspension of logging activities may be lifted at anytime with 60-days notice, and due to the imperiled status of the marbled murrelet, the status quo includes an imminent threat of irreparable injury under the ESA.”

Both murrelet nesting habitat and populations are steadily declining.  Oregon can help halt this decline by entering into an agreement called a Habitat Conservation Plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Such agreements provide for conservation of an imperiled species in exchange for a permit for limited impacts to the species.

In other words, the Endangered Species Act provides a way out of court injunctions and legal battles for the State of Oregon, but the State has to commit to conserving murrelets now and for future generations in order to protect itself from such lawsuits in the future.

Read the Decision.

Read the PI Press Release.

Read press coverage on the ruling:  APEugene Weekly; Register Guard; The World; KLCC

Read more about the lawsuit here.