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Conservation Matters

Conservation Matters – Conservation Matters is the title of of our conservation column in the bi-monthly OPAS Harlequin Happenings newsletter. We will post our column every two months for you to read.


 Forest panel will focus on Marbled Murrelet and timber harvests  

from July – August Harlequin Happenings newsletter

by Mary Porter-Solberg, Conservation Co-chair

Hilary Franz, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner of Public Lands, plans to assemble a panel of experts to help plan for the future of state forests. Commissioner Franz is bringing together a broad set of voices to develop a strategy to sustainably harvest timber and protect the habitat of the Marbled Murrelet. She believes that it is time for DNR to try to attain a resolution of the “long-standing divide” in timber management that has gone on for over a generation. Commissioner Franz and her staff will appoint a forest panel of conservation groups, recreation groups, school districts, industry, and rural counties that depend on state lands to develop a long-term strategy that results in a win for our environment, our natural resource economies, and our communities. The forest panel will help address social, economic and environmental impacts of the final Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Marbled Murrelet. This will also affect the 10-year sustainable harvest calculation plan, which is closely related to the outcome of the final HCP for the Marbled Murrelet. The final decisions will impact timber harvests and the environment for years to come. Commissioner Franz is aware of the concerns that the proposed alternatives in the HCP could have significant economic repercussions for rural communities while not doing enough to save the murrelet. She has asked her staff to work with diverse stakeholders to develop additional solutions that would offset economic and community impacts the plan might have and to find creative ways to improve murrelet conservation.

The next step in the Board of Natural Resources (BNR) timeline for the Marbled Murrelet long-term conservation strategy is to choose one of the six proposed alternatives or consider the “Conservation Alternative” that was recommended and supported by conservation groups in March 2017. The BNR plans to choose a preferred alternative in September 2017.

In early 2018, DNR plans to submit an amendment to the Habitat Conservation Plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for murrelet conservation that meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and its own state trust mandate.

To stay informed and learn about the long-term conservation strategy of the Marbled Murrelet and the sustainable harvest calculation, please visit our Conservation News page of the OPAS website at http://olympicpeninsulaaudubon.org/conservation/conservation-news/.