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30 Years of Conservation, Forest Policy for next 50 Years – Marbled Murrelet Policy Open for Comment

Washington’s Marbled Murrelet population has lost 44% of the species since 2001. The drastic decline is due to habitat loss in forests where the murrelets nest. Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources has opened for public comment their revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy. Attend the DNR public meeting about the rDEIS in Forks: Tuesday, October 9, 6–8 PM at the Rainforest Arts Center, 35 North Forks Avenue.

OFCO is a member of the Marbled Murrelet Survival Project Coalition; please follow events and learn more about the biology of this endangered seabird and other information here. Coalition member Dr. Kara Whittaker, senior scientist from the Washington Forest Law Center, leads our science team analyzing the alternatives presented by DNR. Lawyers, policy workers, economists and others are evaluating the rDEIS to see if the state has presented plans for enough conservation to save the murrelet. The Coalition will present detailed comments on the rDEIS.

How do you pronounce “Marbled Murrelet?” However you pronounce it, speak up with Maria Ruth, author of Rare Bird, to save this important species! Watch for talking points and comments, and please be ready to speak up!

Marbled Murrelet illustration by Dugald Stermer, courtesy of the generosity of the Dugald Stermer family

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OFCO Supported by Jefferson Community Foundation “Give Jefferson” Campaign – Give Now to Support OFCO

The Jefferson Community Foundation accepted OFCO’s proposal to support our work on the Washington state “Solutions Table.” Commissioner of Public Lands HiIary Franz convened the advisory group to help support both the Marbled Murrelet and community needs, including Jefferson County. Please consider giving to OFCO during the campaign. See more information about the project and all the great work being done by nonprofits in Jefferson County here.

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First Marbled Murrelet Nest Discovered August 7, 1974!

August 7 is the 44th anniversary of the discovery of the first Marbled Murrelet nest in California, in 1974. Celebrate! Find information on the Marbled Murrelet and share it. We are celebrating today with Maria Ruth, author of Rare Bird, as she recreates the nest discovery day in this light-hearted video. We are encouraged to learn all we can to prepare for next month, when the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) on the preferred alternative is released by the Department of Natural Resources. This is the next important step in Washington developing a long-term conservation strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. And the going is going to be rough! If you are near the coast in Washington state, look for Marbled Murrelets on the water. Take a picture if you can! Send to info@olympicforest.org and tell us where you took the picture! Follow the Marbled Murrelet Survival Project on Faceook.

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Celebrate World Seabird Day with the Marbled Murrelet!

Megan Friesen of Seattle Audubon, and our colleague in the Marbled Murrelet Survival Coalition, says, “In case you didn’t know already, July 3 is #worldseabirdday (last day the Great Auk was observed alive in 1844).”

Celebrate World Seabird Day with the Marbled Murrelet! Send this video produced by the Washington Environment Council to your friends and family! Help spread the word about this incredible little seabird!

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Summer Congressional Conference on Farm Bill Will Safeguard or Strip Environmental Protections

Falls View Campground, Olympic National Forest – Patricia Jones

July and August will be hot in Washington, D.C., for federal forests. The U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) in a close, rancorous partisan vote of 213–211. Washington’s delegation voted along party lines with Olympic Peninsula Reps. Kilmer voting against and Herrera Beutler for the bill.

The House version included provisions for federal forests that weakened environmental protections. The Forestry title would allow unprecedented increases in categorical exclusions from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and analysis for parcels up to 6,000 acres for several management activities (wildfire risk, hazardous fuels reduction, forest restoration, forest infrastructure projects, special use permits). “Collaborative” projects not already excluded from environmental review would require only two alternatives to be analyzed—the “no action” and proposed action—rather than reasonable alternatives to protect the environment and mitigate harm.

Without NEPA review, the scope and scale of harvest activities will not be evaluated by the public to ensure that the project does not harm the environment. The bill also sets limits on courts for injunctive relief. The bill abolishes the “Roadless Rule” protections for all national lands systems in Alaska. The bill establishes NEPA categorical exclusions for a “pilot project” for all lands in Lincoln, Cibola and Gila National Forests in New Mexico, and establishes arbitration for dispute resolution. In conference with the Senate, these provisions will be open to change.

The Senate Farm Bill was drafted and passed in a bipartisan effort with a vote of 86 to 11 and contained none of the environmental protection rollbacks found in the House bill.

The Senate and House will go into conference on the Farm Bill after the July recess to come to agreement. The agreed bill will go back to each chamber for passage, and then to the president in September. The Farm Bill provisions will set policy for federal forests until 2023. There will be advocacy opportunities in July and August on the Farm Bill to ensure that strong protections for our federal forests are in place for the next five years. Be ready to contact your elected officials and to pass on action alerts to friends, colleagues and families in other states as the action unfolds this summer.