Conservation Groups Call For Increased Protections For Rapidly-Declining Seabird

Monday, May 13, 2013
Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet
- photo by U.S. Forest Service

In a letter sent Monday, over 100 conservation and scientific organizations are calling on the Obama administration to provide new protective measures for the Marbled Murrelet, a federally-listed bird species whose population is rapidly declining.

The letter asserts that the “accelerated decline of this species is an indication that current protections for its old-growth forest habitat need to be augmented, benefitting clean air, clean water, wild salmon runs, carbon sequestration, and other ecosystem services uniquely provided by these irreplaceable forests.”

A recent peer-reviewed study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Forest Service found that the Marbled Murrelet’s population in California, Oregon, and Washington had declined by 29 percent over the last decade. This trend is consistent with the government’s 2009 five-year status review of the species, which concluded the population could be extinct outside of the Puget Sound area within 100 years.

“More needs to be done. These findings indicate that current efforts to eliminate threats and protect habitat are not enough to bring this species back,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy, a leading bird conservation group. “Additional habitat protection, acquisition of new forest reserves, and improved recreation management offer hope for its eventual recovery.”

Murrelet habitat on state and private lands continues to be lost to logging. One study (Falxa et al) documented a 30 percent loss of murrelet habitat on nonfederal lands within the tri-state range between 1996 and 2006. That same study recognized timber harvest as the primary cause of habitat loss on nonfederal lands.

Proposed changes to the Northwest Forest Plan have also left the species’ habitat more vulnerable to disturbance. The final 2012 Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat rule encourages logging in owl-critical habitat, which, in part, overlaps with that of the murrelet. Agency analysis included in the owl rule’s draft environmental assessment indicates that such management practices would likely be harmful to the Marbled Murrelet. Logging—both clearcutting and commercial thinning—increases fragmentation, opening the forests to nest predators such as crows, ravens, and jays.

“To conserve the murrelet, a plan is needed that will protect the remaining habitat and prevent fragmentation in nearby forests to minimize predation and nest disturbance,” said Mr. Holmer. “These steps would offer hope for the Marbled Murrelet, and help to preserve an ancient forest legacy for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations of Americans.”


"Tennessee Uncharted" Receives ACI Award As Nation's Top Outdoor Television Series

“Tennessee Uncharted” the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s television program, has been named as the best outdoors television series in the country by the Association for Conservation Information, Inc. (ACI). “Tennessee Uncharted” made its debut in October, 2014. TWRA partners with Knoxville-based Designsensory and production company PopFizz to bring the weekly program to ... (click for more)

New TWRA Bird Conservation Coordinator To Present August Nature At Noontime Program

David Hanni, recently-appointed Bird Conservation coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will present the August Nature at Noontime program. The program will be held on Thursday, Aug. 6, from noon-1 p.m. at the TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building located in the Ellington Agriculture Complex. Mr. Hanni joined the TWRA from Colorado where he had served as the ... (click for more)

Ruling States That City Of Cleveland Is Entitled To Liquor By The Drink Funds

The city of Cleveland is entitled to keep all funds collected since city voters approved “liquor by the drink” in the Nov. 5, 2002 election. Bradley County Schools sued the city for taxes owed based on the school board’s interpretation of state law. Cleveland City Schools will be allowed to keep its money. The city of Cleveland distributed the liquor by the drink tax to Cleveland ... (click for more)

Crash On Chattanooga Avenue Causes Power Outage

A single-car accident in Dalton damaged a power pole on Chattanooga Avenue in front of the Crown Mill Village apartments and has caused a power outage in the area.   Chattanooga Avenue was closed between Matilda Street and Judson Street while the Dalton Police Department investigated the crash and Dalton Utilities worked to replace the pole. The road was reopened later.  ... (click for more)

Chattanooga's Memorial Day - And Response

It is recorded in the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Joshua, that after the nation had crossed the River Jordan, Joshua would receive a divine commandment to choose 12 men from among the people and tell them to take 12 stones from the middle of the river.  Each man placed a stone on their shoulder which represented one of the tribes of Israel, and served as a memorial ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: They Still Love The ‘Lickers’

When Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) introduced the 2015 version of the “Prevent All Soring Tactics” in Congress this week, he already had a bipartisan crowd of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats as co-sponsors. That’s hardly amazing. Today there are over 280 organizations, associations, veterinary and animal advocates who vehemently support the legislation, because it is well documented, ... (click for more)