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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.


(From the January – February 2018 Harlequin Happenings newsletter)

Marbled Murrelet Long Term Conservation Strategy Update

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is developing a long-term conservation strategy for the Marbled Murrelet.

Once the Board of Natural Resources (BNR) approves a long-term strategy, DNR intends to amend the State Trust Lands 1997 Habitat Conservation Plan, subject to DNR’s fiduciary responsibility to the trust beneficiaries. DNR will then apply for a new incidental take permit for the Marbled Murrelet under the Endangered Species Act.

During the November 7, 2017 BNR meeting, the board chose their preferred alternative for the Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy. Unfortunately, the board voted 5-1 to approve the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff-proposed alternative, which is a modified version of Alternative D. This alternative plan does not preserve enough older forest habitat to stabilize the declining Marbled Murrelet population.

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition had put forward a Conservation Alternative that used the best available science to create a plan that would allow the Marbled Murrelet populations in Washington State to stabilize. There was additional support by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Environmental Protection Agency to analyze the Conservation Alternative after the comment period in July. OPAS also wrote comments in support of the Conservation Alternative during the same comment period. Although the BNR did not choose this plan, the coalition will continue to push back on DNR and BNR as the process continues. 

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition members are hopeful that they can encourage Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, and the board to move toward a science-based conservation strategy, one that preserves more habitat for the murrelet.

In addition, the Marbled Murrelet Coalition released a statement that reads in part, “It is important to acknowledge that many rural communities are affected by State management plans. We believe that wildlife protections and healthy rural communities can coexist, and we look forward to participating at the Solutions Table convened by the Commissioner of Public Lands to chart a better path for wildlife and these communities. We are hopeful this table will create better outcomes for wildlife recovery as well as income to the trust beneficiaries.”

You can stay updated on the Marbled Murrelet long-term conservation strategy on the Conservation News page of the OPAS website.