Posts Tagged ‘Center Biological Diversity’

Nov14

Press Release: Oregon Suspends Clearcutting in the Elliott State Forest

Contact:
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182    
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495    
Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon Society, (503) 380-9728    
Tanya Sanerib, Crag Law Center, (503) 525-2722    
 
SALEM, Ore.- After a lawsuit by conservation groups, the State of Oregon has suspended logging of 914 acres of old-growth forest on the Elliott State Forest that is habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet. Previously, ten timber sales were suspended in response to the lawsuit filed in July by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society of Portland. The suit asserts that the state is harming the rare seabird by logging its nesting habitat in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

“The state of Oregon has been playing fast and loose with the law for years in the way it claims to 'protect' the imperiled marbled murrelet,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands. “The decision to further defer hundreds of acres of clearcuts is one that we welcome and provides interim relief for the murrelet.”

Plaintiffs discovered the logging deferral announcement in an Oregon Department of Forestry memo, dated Sept. 19, 2012, that was just recently posted to the Department's website. The memo suggests that the State will defer 15 additional timber sales until the lawsuit currently pending in U.S. District Court is resolved, and that the State will work to identify other logging projects that are free of the contested issues in the case. Plaintiffs have long advocated the state focus its timber operations on young plantation forests in need of restoration rather than older forests that are critical to the survival of a host of endangered species, including marbled murrelets.

“Logging on state forests cannot be done at the expense of the survival of the marbled murrelet or any other animals that depend on old forests for their survival,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The last remaining old forests in Oregon are precious and need to be protected not just for the marbled murrelet, but for future generations.”

The most recent status review of the murrelet by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the birds have been declining by about four percent per year and that this decline relates to continued loss of habitat, primarily on state and private lands.
 
The State of Oregon recently abandoned its decade-long attempt to develop habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for the Elliott, as well as the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests, that would have given it a federal permit for limited impacts to marbled murrelets in exchange for habitat protection measures designed to enhance the bird's conservation. Rather than improving habitat protections, the state walked away from the HCP process altogether and instead ramped up logging on all three forests. The lawsuit seeks to force the State to halt logging practices that are harmful to murrelets until it develops a plan that will protect murrelets and the mature forests on which the birds and other species depend.

“It is time for the State to return to the table and negotiate a balanced plan for each of the state forests that will provide adequate protection for the murrelet, allow for responsible and sustainable logging, and ensure that the State meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland.
 
The conservation organizations are represented by outside counsel Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib and Chris Winter of the Crag Law Center, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Scott Jerger of Field Jerger LLP, and Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center.

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Aug24

State of Washington Urged to Halt Wolf Killing: Evidence Lacking That Wedge Wolf Pack Is Responsible for Livestock Loss

For Immediate Release, August 24, 2012

Contact: Bob Ferris, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 861-4655
Greg Costello, Western Environmental Law Center, (206) 260-1166
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Seven conservation organizations sent a letter today calling on Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and state agencies to rescind an order to kill four wolves in the Wedge wolf pack in northeastern Washington. The kill order comes just two weeks after the state killed another wolf-pack member. State agents have been dispatched and are currently in the field tracking down the wolves to kill.
 
The letter was sent by Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Snohomish Group of the Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, Western Environmental Law Center and Wolf Haven International. The groups assert that the state’s plan to kill the four wolves is illegal because the state has failed to show that the livestock were killed by wolves or that the ranchers took actions to avoid depredations. 
 
“This is a simple case of the state not following its own rules,” says Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “You can’t kill four more members of the pack if you can’t show conclusively that wolves were responsible for the livestock deaths.”
 
There is a strict standard in the recently adopted “Washington Wolf Plan” about when lethal control on wolves can be authorized, including demonstrating that the livestock at issue “have clearly been killed by wolves.” A state of Washington incident report about a recent depredation near the Diamond M Ranch specifically concluded that the incident could not be confirmed as a wolf predation. 
 
“The killing of five wolves in the Wedge pack would completely violate both the spirit and letter of the state’s wolf-management plan,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state needs to rescind this kill order right away and pull its staff from the field.” 
 
Several wolf-depredation experts have reviewed the state’s investigation reports and found that none of the injuries are characteristic of wolf predation on livestock. 
 
“The rush to kill these wolves based on misidentified predation sets a very dangerous precedent for wolf management in Washington,” said Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, who managed the organization’s regional wolf-compensation program from 1999 to 2011. “Instead of waiting for legitimate depredations to occur, the state should focus on using proven nonlethal alternatives that are much more effective at reducing conflicts over the long run. People will never learn how to coexist with wolves if the state is so quick to kill them.”
 
This pack is known as the Wedge pack because its range includes a triangle-shaped area defined by the Canadian border and the Kettle and Columbia rivers. The incidents have taken place on leased grazing land within the Coleville National Forest.
 
“Managing the return of wolves to our public landscape is an emotional issue, and the state will always be pressured to take extreme control measures when livestock are killed regardless of whether a wolf was responsible or not,” said Greg Costello with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Therefore, it is imperative that the state’s integrity is maintained during the wolf recovery process to ensure fair and transparent decision-making.”
 
Wolves are just beginning to make a comeback in Washington after a government-sponsored program of poisoning, shooting and trapping the animal to extinction in the state. There are currently eight packs of wolves in Washington since the animals’ historic return in 2008. This past December the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the “Washington Wolf Plan,” a stakeholder-developed framework that outlines recovery and management objectives for wolves in Washington. 
 
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Jul02

Press Release: State of Oregon Suspends 10 State Forest Timber Sales in Marbled Murrelet Habitat

Marbled murrelet (USFWS)

For immediate release
July 2, 2012
 
Contact:
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182      
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495      
Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon Society, (503) 380-9728      
Tanya Sanerib, Crag Law Center, (503) 525-2722      
 
State of Oregon Suspends 10 State Forest Timber Sales in Marbled Murrelet Habitat
Simultaneously, Conservation Groups File Injunction Request to Safeguard the Threatened Seabird During Lawsuit
 
PORTLAND, Ore.— The State of Oregon has suspended operations on 10 timber sales in marbled murrelet habitat one month after Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Audubon Society of Portland filed a lawsuit alleging the state’s logging practices in the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott State Forests are illegally “taking” the imperiled seabird in violation of the Endangered Species Act.  To prevent additional murrelet habitat from being lost while the case works its way through the court system, the conservation groups filed an injunction request in federal court to halt sales and logging in the occupied murrelet habitat pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
      
The State agreed to suspend three timber sales and to hold off on auctioning three others to give the Court time to consider the preliminary injunction motion. Plaintiffs have also recognized the State has taken things a step further by removing at least four additional timber sales in murrelet habitat from the auction block that were scheduled to be sold in the near future.   
 
“We are pleased that the state has suspended clearcutting in murrelet habitat on its own accord while this portion of the case proceeds,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “We hope that Governor Kitzhaber will permanently abandon these illegal timber sales, prevent any others like them in the future, and begin acting within the law in managing our state forests.”
 
The Endangered Species Act prohibits actions that “take” threatened species. Take is broadly defined to include actions that kill, harm or injure protected species, including destruction of habitat. The injunction request presents evidence that logging in the three state forests is harming marbled murrelets by destroying their nesting habitat. The logging operations were either already underway or ready for auction.
 
“Oregon's irresponsible logging is driving the marbled murrelet to extinction,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.  "We're asking the court to stop the worst of the state’s timber sales, and encouraging Governor Kitzhaber to initiate the development of scientifically-supported management plans for our coastal state forests.”
 
The injunction motion requests a halt to 11 timber sales, constituting 840 acres of proposed logging in the three forests as well as a halt to any future logging in occupied murrelet habitat pending the outcome of the case. The injunction is necessary because significant amounts of murrelet habitat could be lost while the case works its way through the court system.
 
“The suspension of the timber sales is an important interim measure while the litigation proceeds,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “However it is important for the public to realize that these and other sales in murrelet habitat are still at real risk of proceeding in the near future.”
 
The most recent status review of marbled murrelets by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the birds have been declining at a rate of approximately 4 percent per year and that this decline likely relates to continued loss of habitat, primarily on state and private lands.
 
 Oregon recently abandoned its decade-long attempt to develop habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for the three forests that would have given it a federal permit for limited impacts to marbled murrelets in exchange for habitat protection measures designed to enhance the bird's conservation. Rather than improving habitat protections, the state turned its back on murrelets and other listed species altogether by walking away from the HCP process. The lawsuit seeks to force the state to develop a plan that will protect murrelets and the mature forests on which the birds and other species depend.
 
The conservation organizations are represented by outside counsel Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib and Chris Winter of the Crag Law Center, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Scott Jerger of Field Jerger LLP, and Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center.
 
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A copy of the preliminary injunction memo and motion can be found here, and more case background can be found here.

 

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