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.”


Trail Repair Work Beginning On Red Trail In Chickamauga Battlefield

The National Park Service is advising the beginning of repair work on a 1.09 mile section of the Red Trail located in the northwest corner of the Chickamauga Battlefield. This section is part of the equestrian trail that intersects the yellow trail. The park is utilizing an agreement with the Southeast Conservation Corp to have a student work crew repair the trail ... (click for more)

33rd Rail-to-Trail To Cost City $440,000

B ert Kuyrkendall, city transportation engineer, said the focus of the 33rd Rail-to-Trail “is transportation not recreation.” If the grant he hopes to apply for is accepted, construction will begin on a $2,200,000 project, with the city of Chattanooga’s portion costing $440,000.   The Chattanooga City Council discussed a resolution which would authorize administration ... (click for more)

Customer At East Ridge Gas Station Shoots And Kills Robber; He Had Been Trying To Take Female Clerk With Him

East Ridge Police said a customer at an East Ridge gas station early Thursday morning shot a robber, who was then found by police lying outside the station and was arrested.  The robber has died.  His name is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin. At 1:47 a.m., East Ridge Police responded to 4011 Ringgold Road, the Marathon Service Station, on ... (click for more)

Bridge Repair Over 12th Street To Cause Temporary Lane Closure On US 27

While investigating a pothole in the bridge on U.S. 27 North over 12 th Street in the construction zone, crews discovered a potential weak spot in the bridge deck that could over time result in more damage to the bridge deck.  For the safety of the traveling public, the outside lane in this area will be closed until the contractor makes necessary repairs, TDOT officials ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (4)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Story You Won’t See

In a puzzling time when the big daily newspapers have veered strongly away from “all the news that is fit to print,” allow me to share a story that you very likely will not see on CNN, ABC News, or in the big media conglomerates that influence the way you think, the way you react and – as a result – easily warp our common senses. This story is very true. Late last Sunday afternoon, ... (click for more)