- March 9, 2017 5 p.m. is a deadline for a very important public comment period
concerning Pacific Northwest native bird Marbled Murrelet and how this bird impacts public lands into the future. A final desicion has the potential to effect not just this species but the economy, recreation, education, and more. It is our responsibility to insure that we have done our best to understand the issue and offer comments that will help create the best plan for all interests.
Audobon page for Marbled Murrelet
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page for Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy (WA State Department of Natural Resources – DNR)
Explore the DEIS and alternatives using this interactive story map (DEIS – draft environmental impact statement)
Please do the following:
> Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or SEPA Center, PO Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015. Only written comments are being accepted in this process.
> Include the “file # 12-042001“ in the subject line of your e-mail and on letters and postcards;
> If you are short on time, please simply write this: I would like to request that DNR analyze the Conservation Alternative in a Supplemental EIS before a preferred alternative is selected;
> If you have another few minutes and would like to add more, here are some suggestions:
- All six of the current strategies being considered by the DNR show a declining population trend for the next 50 years. None of the alternatives contribute to Marbled Murrelet survival and recovery. This is demonstrated by the DNR’s own population modeling. Please consider the Conservation Alternative.
- Alternative F, which is based on the 2008 Science Team Report, comes closest to reaching Marbled Murrelet recovery goals, but unfortunately this alternative does not include important, more recent scientific findings. For example, a 2015 study identified the regional importance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca as a “hotspot,” not previously recognized, of murrelet at-sea density adjacent to high/higher quality nesting habitat. An effective conservation and recovery strategy must be based on best available science. Please consider the Conservation Alternative.
- DNR-managed lands contain approximately 15% (213,000 acres) of all existing Marbled Murrelet habitat in the state, and this habitat is needed to serve as a temporal “bridge” to support the bird’s population over the next 30-50 years while it is most vulnerable to extirpation. Please consider the Conservation Alternative to help prevent this fate.
- DNR’s best option for Marbled Murrelets, Alternative F, allows the harvest of 25,000 acres of mature forest habitat that is needed for the poplation to stabilize and recover. The DNR and USFWS should consider the new proposed Conservation Alternative as a stronger, more effective strategy with considerably lower harvest volume to prevent the local extinction of the Marbled Murrelet.
- As of Dec. 2016, the marbled murrelet is now a state endangered species. The DEIS Alternatives do not properly reflect this imperiled state, as evidenced by the ongoing population decline in the DEIS population viability model risk analysis and by the 44% smaller population size (from 2001-2015. The murrelet population is more susceptible to extinction.
- Without explicit population recovery criteria at the state or federal levels, the adopted LTCS Alternative could preclude murrelet recovery if it does not preserve enough existing and future habitat. Under these conditions, a precautionary approach is most appropriate. The Conservation Alternative most aligns with this precautionary approach.
- The restoration of low quality habitat over time does not adequately mitigate for the loss of higher-quality habitat that currently exists. Washington’s murrelet population cannot afford further habitat losses in its imperiled status, or it may become functionally extirpated before future, low quality habitat is restored gradually over time. If murrelets become functionally extirpated from Washington, the lack of genetic flow and genetic variability will become a more significant threat to the persistence of the species at the range-wide scale (CA, OR, and WA).
- Not all of the DEIS Alternatives adequately ameliorate the edge effects associated with habitat fragmentation. For example, Alternatives A and B completely lack contiguous, blocked-up Conservation Areas (such as Marbled Murrelet Management Areas, Emphasis Areas, and/or Special Habitat Areas). In the Olympic Experimental State Forest, Marbled Murrelet Management Areas only have a 50% habitat target under Alt. F, which is insufficient for achieving their purpose of minimizing edge effects.
- Buffers on occupied sites of 0 to 100 meters (Alt. A-F) are too narrow to protect murrelet nests from predators, a suboptimal microclimate, and/or wind throw. Buffers of 150 meters should be part of the preferred alternative.