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Elliott State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan

This alert brings to attention the issue of destroying more of the already-dwindling habitat for marbled murrelets in the name of increased timber production from 23 to 40 million board feet per year. Should we act in the interest of others, or only in the interest of ourselves?
Marbled Murrelets depend on old-growth for nesting.
Marbled Murrelets depend on old-growth for nesting.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs your comments to help them write the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Elliott State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan.

The 93,200 acre Elliott State Forest, near Reedsport, contains native forests over 140 years old, a haven for murrelets who need mature forests near the Pacific Ocean to raise their young. Old forests are rare on the central Oregon coast.

Currently, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) must look for signs of nesting murrelets before they log. If found, they have to log elsewhere. That could change. The ODF wants to increase logging and stop protecting all nesting marbled murrelets.

Under the current plan, the ODF can only propose logging in the Elliott's lowest quality murrelet habitat. Even so, about one-third of the surveyed timber sales have found nesting murrelets and have had to be reserved as a conservation area. As ODF starts to survey the better murrelet habitat, the endangered seabirds will be found more often.

Therefore, the ODF has proposed to instead be able to just clearcut 1,000 acres of this better murrelet habitat, per decade, with no surveys at all. 60% of the best murrelet habitat on the Elliott is outside of conservation areas and will all be available for clearcutting under the proposed HCP.

Even worse, the ODF has proposed that all the active murrelet nests found since 2004 lose their protections, and be available for clearcutting. Since these sales have been laid out, these found nesting sites will likely be clearcut first.

Considering that the Elliott State Forest is the best block of marbled murrelet habitat left on the Oregon coast, and considering that the marbled murrelet is struggling so hard to survive in Oregon, where it once flourished, the proposed Elliott State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan is no conservation plan at all. Instead it is a plan to allow more logging of the some of the best murrelet habitat left.

Please write to the USFWS to be a voice for the marbled murrelet. Choose something below to write about.

* The proposal to clearcut murrelet habitat will nearly double logging on the Elliott over 10 years, from 23 to 40 mmbf a year. There is no reason for this. The Elliott has been managed legally for the past 10 years while protecting the marbled murrelet.

* Scientists say "In Oregon, only 2000-4000 birds remain, mostly in the central coast region." That includes the Elliott. This is too important and rare a habitat to increase logging these big trees.

* Murrelet populations in Washington, Oregon, and California are declining rapidly and will be extinct within the next 50-100 years if the present conditions continue.

* Half of the Elliott has already been clearcut. The other half should be reserved for recreation, wildlife, and as a source of clean water for fish and people.

Write to: Kemper M. McMaster
Oregon State Supervisor
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2600 S.E. 98th Avenue, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97266-1398
email:  kemper_mcmaster@fws.gov

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