Posts Tagged ‘marbled murrelet’


Cascadia Wildlands and Sound Choices

By Bob Ferris
The_Rosannas_With Seth Plunkett-Libby Fenstermacher-Andrew Mosman-Joshua Heying
So much of what we do to keep things wild involves sound—embracing the good ones versus fighting the offensive.  For instance, we want wolves howling in the wilderness but don’t want to hear the constant lawnmower-motor burping of suction dredge engines in our wild spaces.
Similarly, we much prefer to listen to the wind whistling through tall trees in the Elliott State Forest and the gentle “keer”of marbled murrelets to the rip-snort of a chainsaw.  The same is true for rushing waters and waves as opposed to off-highway vehicles and jet boats.  
We all have similar catalogues of good and bad sounds.  What we hear and experience through our auditory senses seems almost as important as what we harvest in wilderness through our eyes, nose, feet and fingers.  
This importance of good sounds is probably why we at Cascadia Wildlands convene so many events over and around music.  Good sounds bring us together.  Take Pints Gone Wild hosted by Ninkasi Brewery on the first Monday of each month.  That gathering is all about good sounds—old favorites, new artists and those making joyful or innovative noise for the wildlands we love.  All of them generously donating their time to help us keep it wild.
_MG_0112But it does not end there because we also have special events such as the upcoming one at Luckey’s Club on April 12 and our barn-burner (figuratively not literally) Hoedown for Ancient Forests on May 10th.  
And it is not just about our own music events.  We will also be at the Oregon Country Fair and String Summit again this summer.  So please come to these events and tell your friends. There is really no rule out there that says we cannot have major amounts of fun while taking material actions to keep it wild.  



Do Not Let the “Timber Witches” Have the Elliott

By Bob Ferrisuntitled
“Kathy Jones, Seneca Jones’ co-owner, said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by “eco-radical” environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.” Oregonian April 2, 2014


We do not traditionally respond well to ironic comments made by timber industry owners.  That is why we thought that we would respond comically to the Seneca Jones sisters calling us and others essentially “environmental bullies” when they buy timber that they claim that they do not need, simply to make a point.  Ridiculous actions deserve ridiculous responses.
The only point they have made is that they have enough money to spend it recklessly.  So we thought that we would respond with humor appropriate with their attempt to buy bits of the Elliott at pennies on our dollars. (Please click on "movie poster" to the right to get the full effect)
Offensive? Maybe.  But we find it offensive for a timber company to ask for more discounted public resources so that they can have additional wherewithal to buy timber they do not need.
“They’re elitist environmentalists, they’re sent from Washington D.C., they’re not about doing anything reasonable,” she said. “The hypocrisy is without limit. And we’re sick and tired of it in the state.” Seneca Jones Co-Owner Kathy Jones in the Oregonian April 2, 2014
Perhaps—judging from the above quote—the sisters think that they have truly enchanted us. That seems like the only logical explanation when you have the plane-flying, horseback-riding, SCUBA-diving sisters calling people living on the economic edge “elitists.”  And as to being sent from Washington DC, my sense is that these three forget how much time they and their lobbyists spend in our nation’s capital and hope that we do also.  
Seneca Clearcut at DawnThe enchantment theory might also explain why the sisters might think that their “vision” for the Elliott expressed so well by this photograph at left of a Seneca Jones clearcut at dawn being sprayed with herbicides by helicopter matches Oregonian’s vision for our precious public lands.  And for all those out there touting the wildlife habitat benefits of clearcutting, please show me the elk and deer habitat created here or in the photograph at right of a Seneca clearcut and landslide.  This is not what we need or want in the Elliott.Seneca landslide
“Clearcutting mimics nature,” Jones said in an interview. “If these lands are awarded to us, and we maintain them as we do all of our private timberlands, we will be clearcutting and replanting Douglas fir.” Timber Company Says It Will Clearcut If It Buys Public Forestland in EarthFix April 3, 2014
And for those who think we are over stating our case, the above quote from Seneca Jones sister Kathy speaks volumes about their scorched earth policy.
Join us and help support our efforts to find a conservation solution that helps all of us and protects some of the last and largest stands of mature, native forest in coastal Oregon.  





Three companies bid for timberlands in Elliott State Forest

By Christina George, Roseburg News Review DSCN2264
April 1, 2014
Three companies bid for timberlands in Elliott State Forest: Threats of lawsuits and blockades didn’t scare off three timber companies from submitting bids for parcels the state plans to sell in the Elliott State Forest in Douglas and Coos counties.
The Oregon Department of State Lands received five bids for three parcels totaling 1,451 acres by Friday’s deadline, the department’s assistant director, Jim Paul, said.
The sale is to help offset a deficit growing in the Common School Fund.
All bids met or exceeded the minimum amount, which for the three tracts collectively was about $3 million.
Paul said the bids and names of bidders will not be released while the real estate transaction is pending. “We haven’t made any decisions (about) which bids we are accepting,” Paul said today. “We would expect it to close by the end of this month unless something unusual happens.”
An anti-logging activist group, Cascadia Forest Defenders, last month warned potential bidders that it will physically block logging on land sold on the 93,000-acre forest between Reedsport and Coos Bay. The group said in an open letter to the timber industry that it will send members up trees to prevent logging, and it will not respect property lines, signs or gates.
The group’s threat came days after three other environmental organizations warned they will sue any timber company that buys the lands with plans to log. Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland and the Center for Biological Diversity said the tracts contain marbled murrelet habitat and that logging would violate the Endangered Species Act.
Douglas Timber Operators Executive Director Bob Ragon said he didn’t know how many companies passed on bidding because of the threats, but some likely considered the potential legal costs. “I am sure it had a chilling effect on the outcome,” he said.
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands conservation director, said timber companies’ interest is logging, which isn’t good for the “remarkable and unique place.”
Paul said two other parcels in the Elliott totaling 1,300 acres that will be auctioned in the fall will be marketed for conservation because they include marbled murrelet habitat.
“It still means anyone can bid on it, but from a marketing approach, we are going to emphasize that marbled murrelets are present,” Paul said. “It just means timber companies are less likely to bid.”
State Land Board members Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler in December approved selling 2,728 acres to make up a $3 million deficit in the Common School Fund. Lawsuits filed by conservation groups, including Cascadia Wildlands, have blocked logging in the Elliott, depriving the school fund from its source of revenue.
The state hired Realty Marketing Northwest to conduct the sale. The Portland-based firm began accepting bids Feb. 16. All sealed bids were opened at 5 p.m. Friday. The state is seeking at least $1.82 million for the 785-acre East Hakki Ridge in Douglas County. The other minimum bids are $610,500 for the 353-acre Benson Ridge parcel and $595,000 for the 311-acre Adams Ridge Tract 1 in Coos County. The two tracts that will be auctioned later this year are within the Adams Ridge parcel.
Eatherington said Cascadia Wildlands can’t afford to submit bids. “We are an organization that for the most part tries to protect the public lands, and we don’t have that kind of money,” she said. “We very much hope that someone who has that kind of money that wants to protect the endangered seabird that lives there would buy (it and) protect it.”
The timber on the five parcels has been appraised for $22 million, assuming the presence of marbled murrelets, a threatened seabird protected by the Endangered Species Act, doesn’t hinder logging. State surveyors and conservation group volunteers last summer reported spotting a marbled murrelet on two tracts in Coos County. A lower appraisal of $4 million was given if timber companies were unwilling to purchase land with marbled murrelet habitat.
“It’s unfortunate the state put it up for sale and didn’t restrict the sale to conservation groups, and by reducing the price from $22 million to $4 million and admitting the timber couldn’t be cut because of the uniqueness and the rarity, and to still fall to the timber industry doesn’t make any sense,” Eatherington said. •
You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at


State Stops Timber Sales to Help Bird

The Associated Press by Jeff Barnard
February 6, 2013
The state Department of Forestry has agreed to cancel more than two dozen timber sales on state forests because they threaten the survival of the marbled murrelet, a seabird that nests in large, old trees.
The proposed settlement filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene comes in a lawsuit brought by three conservation groups, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Audubon Society of Portland.
It alleged that the department violated the Endangered Species Act prohibiting the harming, or take, of a protected species by failing to protect stands of trees on the Elliott and other state forests where threatened marbled murrelets build their nests.
The murrelet is a robin-size bird that lives on the ocean and flies as far as 50 miles inland to nest in old growth forests. The bird was declared a threatened species about two decades ago, making it a factor in the continuing court and political battles over logging in the Northwest.
The settlement comes as the state has been trying to increase logging on state forests to provide more funding for schools and counties and more logs for local mills.
The Elliott State Forest, where the bulk of the canceled sales are located, typically provides millions of dollars to the Common School Fund. But in 2013 it cost the fund $2.8 million because of reduced logging, according to the Department of State Lands. The rest of the canceled sales are on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests.
State Department of Forestry spokesman Dan Postrel said the department began canceling timber sales in 2012 as it revised its protection policy for the murrelet, and that the settlement wraps up a total of 28 timber sales.
Postrel said the department is reviewing science related to the murrelet to “help inform the best long-term plans and strategies.”
The state managed the Elliott for years by protecting habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the murrelet but scrapped that approach after federal biologists refused to approve revisions that allowed more logging. Instead, the state adopted a policy used by private timberland owners that refrains from logging where protected species are actually living.
The lawsuit argued that rather than preserving a large area of trees around a murrelet nest, the department was leaving small patches and clear-cutting close around them, leaving the nests vulnerable to attacks by jays and ravens that eat the young.
The birds are difficult to spot when they fly swiftly into a stand of trees at dawn. The nests are difficult to spot, as well. The eggs are laid in a mossy depression on a large branch high in a tree. Laughlin said the department also has agreed, in a separate action, to stop its practice of sending its own observers to verify murrelet sightings by a contractor, which conservation groups feel violates the accepted scientific protocol.
“This was an incredibly arbitrary and reckless process that we believe, in the past, led to loss of occupied murrelet habitat,” Laughlin said.
Oregon Forest Industries Council President Kristina McNitt said in an email that the organization was worried that the state may not be able to meet its obligations to the Common School Fund and counties after withdrawing the sales.


Settlement Protects Marbled Murrelet on Oregon State Forests, Cancels 28 Timber Sales

For Immediate Release, February 5, 2014Marbled Murrelet -large
Contact: Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182      
   Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495      
   Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, (503) 380-9728  
Settlement Protects Marbled Murrelet on Oregon State Forests, Cancels 28 Timber Sales
Agreement Also Ensures Future Logging Won’t Harm Rare Seabird
Portland, Ore.— Three conservation organizations secured a major victory today for Oregon’s coastal forests, reaching a settlement agreement with the state that cancels 28 timber sales in habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet on the Elliott, Clatsop and Tillamook state forests and improves future management practices to ensure the rare seabird is not harmed.
“This agreement provides immediate relief for the dwindling population of the marbled murrelet,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands. “The state of Oregon needs to see more in our state forests than timber volume.”
The agreement settles a legal challenge brought by the conservation organizations in 2012 arguing that logging of state forests authorized by the Oregon Department of Forestry harms the seabird, which is protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Marbled murrelets are unique among seabirds in that they nest on the wide branches of large, old trees, making a daily trip of up to 35 miles inland to bring fish to their young. Logging of their forest homes is the primary threat to their survival. 
“This is a huge win for marbled murrelets and other species that depend on older forests,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland. “The number of cancelled sales speaks to how out of alignment the state’s practices were with the law. Hopefully this marks the beginning of a new era of responsible and sustainable management of our state’s forests.”
“If we’re going to save the marbled murrelet, we have to protect the old forests this unique seabird calls home,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state of Oregon and ODF flouted the law for years and now are paying the price. It’s time for the state to find a path forward that generates income for schools, but doesn’t drive species extinct in the process.”
ODF previously had a habitat conservation plan for the Elliott State Forest that allowed it to log some older forest habitat in exchange for protecting other areas critical for threatened and endangered species in the long term and was working on a plan for the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. ODF then abandoned its plans in order to log areas it had previously promised to protect. This broken promise left the state vulnerable to the litigation filed by the groups in May 2012.
Under the settlement agreement, the state will now have to protect more habitat for murrelets on state forests. This habitat is key to protecting the species, as current research in the Pacific Northwest shows that murrelet populations are declining by approximately 4 percent per year. Clearcutting of older forest on the three coastal state forests is a contributing factor. The Elliott State Forest is a 93,000-acre forest located in the Coast Range east of Coos Bay. The Clatsop and Tillamook are made up of over 500,000 acres in the northwest Oregon Coast Range.
In addition to providing habitat for imperiled species, these forests have a mandate to generate revenue for county and state services. Rather than clearcut older trees in the three forests to help fund schools and roads, the conservation organizations have long encouraged the state to pursue beneficial opportunities. They recommend protection of the forests for use in carbon markets, a timber program that focuses on restoration thinning of dense plantation forests, the sale of key habitat to land trusts or other conservation interests, or a combination of these mechanisms.
The three conservation organizations on the suit are the Audubon Society of Portland, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity. The groups are represented by Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib of the Center for Biological Diversity, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Chris Winter of the Crag Law Center, Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center and Scott Jerger of Field Jerger LLP.


Elliott Land Deal Imperils Future Of Bird, Forest


By Adrian Black Eugene Weekly
August 15, 2013

Volunteer surveyors in Elliott State Forest recently discovered nesting behavior by the marbled murrelet, a sea bird protected under the Endangered Species Act, on one of three parcels of land being assessed for sale by the State Land Board.

The sale would ultimately be for logging purposes. Last year, Cascadia Wildlands and two other conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the board — including Gov. John Kitzhaber — as well as the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and Department of Forestry, which oversee the Elliott. The result was a U.S. District Court injunction on “further logging activities in known occupied marbled murrelet sites in the … Elliott State Forest.”

A land board meeting in June deemed the parcels of the Elliott, where logging feeds Oregon’s Common School Fund, qualified for sale due to non-profitability. Nick Cady, an attorney with Cascadia Wildlands, calls that solution a “petulant, short-term money grab” that is “definitely not in the interest of the Oregon public or its school children.” Divesting assets also doesn’t address the origins of the revenue failure. “It’s time for [the state] to take responsibility for their core management practices. This privatization plan is just another way to evade reality,” says Erin Grady of Cascadia Forest Defenders. “The way they clearcut in the Elliott is still the way they did it in the ’70s.”

“We believe they’re going to try to sell the entire [85,000 acres] of the Elliott,” Cady says. “This is a test run to see if they can get away with it.” The board and DSL continue to push sales and, according to conservationists, deflect habitat concerns. The largest parcel in question, Adams Ridge — roughly 1,600 of the total 2,700 acres — is where Coast Range Forest Watch surveyors documented areas occupied by the murrelet, which nests in old-growth forests. The surveyors will submit their findings before a comment period ends Sept. 3.

Even though the court case will not be settled federally until next year, the 2,700 acres would go to auction, pending a State Land Board meeting on Dec. 10 to review public comments. “Supposedly green politicians that Oregon has elected will decide to privatize this land unless we can stop it,” Grady says.

link to article


Small Seabird Stops Logging, Again

November 28, 2012 
By Camilla Mortenson, Eugene Weekly
Is a small, speedy potato-shaped seabird the new spotted owl? If it wasn’t already clear before: Clearcutting on hundreds of acres of coastal old-growth forests that are habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet is definitely at a standstill, this time thanks to a Nov. 19 ruling by federal Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene. 
Conservation group Cascadia Wildlands had previously announced the voluntary cessation of logging in marbled murrelet habitat in the Elliott State Forest by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) in response to the lawsuit Cascadia Wildlands and others had filed. One timber sale in the Tillamook State Forest had also been suspended, according to Kevin Weeks of ODF.
Weeks says ODF pulled a number of timber sales in June due to the lawsuit. In September, a memo in regard to the Coos operations plan, which determines the sales in the Elliott, later pulled 15 more projects planned for 2013 because, according to Weeks, they “have the same issues present as those identified in the lawsuit.”
ODF argued that issuing an injunction on the logging was moot because the agency had already voluntarily suspended logging on the timber sales in the lawsuit, but Aiken ruled that because ODF had “retained the right to simply resume logging operations after giving notice, a possibility of the recurrence of the allegedly illegal logging activity exists.”
Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands points out that Aiken’s preliminary injunction not only prevents logging on the 11 timber sales named in the suit, it also broadens the suspension to “any further logging activities in known occupied marbled murrelet sites in the Tillamook, Clatsop and Elliott state forests.” 
The ruling is critical for marbled murrelets and makes the clearcutting suspension official, Laughlin says. He says that now the ball is in Gov. John Kitzhaber’s court in regard to suspending what Laughlin calls “aggressive clearcutting plans on our public forests.” Kitzhaber along with Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler make up the State Land Board that governs Oregon’s publicly owned state forests. 
ODF has announced a 46-day public comment period began Nov. 26 on six additional timber sales in the Elliott State Forest that are not impacted by issues raised in the lawsuit, these sales “are anticipated to provide 9.8 million board-feet of timber for the current fiscal year, and an estimated $2.48 million in net revenue for schools and county services in Oregon,” according to the ODF announcement.


Judge blocks timber sales over sea bird nesting

November 27, 2013

by Jeff  Barnard, AP Environmental Writer
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has put 11 state forest timber sales on hold while she considers a lawsuit contending they threaten the survival of the marbled murrelet, a protected seabird that nests in old-growth forests.
The preliminary injunction issued last week was a blow to the new endangered species conservation policy adopted by the state to produce more timber from state lands.
Besides the 11 timber sales, the order covers all stands occupied by murrelets on the Clatsop, Tillamook and Elliot state forests.
In issuing the order, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene wrote that conservation groups have shown they are likely to win the lawsuit on its merits, and leaving the sales open to logging could cause irreparable harm.
At issue is whether the state's logging goals on the three forests violate the Endangered Species Act by destroying habitat for the marbled murrelet, a threatened species. The bird lives at sea, but it flies up to 50 miles inland to lay its eggs on the large, mossy branches of mature and old-growth trees.
"This ruling should send a signal to the leadership of Oregon that balanced forest plans are critically needed to truly protect the murrelet," Francis Eartherington, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands, said in a statement. "The state of Oregon's forest practices are the most reckless in the Pacific Northwest and are pushing the marbled murrelet closer to extinction."
Earlier this year, the state Department of Forestry withdrew the sales pending the outcome of the lawsuit, and planned instead to offer a smaller number of alternative sales elsewhere.
The Oregon Department of Forestry estimated the withdrawal of the 10 sales on the Elliott would cost the Common School Fund $9.85 million in lost income next year. Unlike other state forests, the Elliott is controlled by the State Land Board, with logging proceeds going to the Common School Fund.
The 11th sale is on the Tillamook.
The state managed the Elliott for years by protecting habitat for threatened and endangered species like the murrelet but scrapped that approach last year after federal biologists refused to approve revisions that allowed more logging. Instead, the state adopted a policy used by private timberland owners that refrains from logging where protected species are actually living.
Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Dan Postrel said the order was expected. He added that a separate order from the judge removing the state Board of Forestry and state Land Board as defendants in the lawsuit suggested that the endangered species conservation policy they adopted may not be held responsible.
Jim Geisinger, executive director of the Associated Oregon Loggers, said the loss of the timber was a big blow to nearby timber communities. He added he was disappointed that the judge would block the timber sales on state lands, when the murrelet's habitat needs were supposed to be satisfied entirely on federal lands.
Geisinger said the new policy should be preferable, because it prohibited any individuals of a protected species from being killed, while habitat conservation plans allowed some individuals to be killed incidentally.


Court Halts Clearcutting in Murrelet Habitat on Oregon State Forests

For Immediate Release, November 27, 2012
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  
Court Halts Clearcutting in Murrelet Habitat on Oregon State Forests
Conservation Groups Call on Gov. Kitzhaber for Balanced Forest Planning
PORTLAND, Ore.— A federal court judge has halted 11 timber sales and all logging activities in occupied marbled murrelet sites in the Tillamook, Clatsop and Elliott state forests. The ruling stops logging in murrelet habitat until the resolution of a case filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Portland Audubon Society asserting that the state's logging practices are harming the federally protected seabird in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 
Since the case was filed, Oregon has voluntarily suspended timber sales on more than 1,700 acres of older forest in marbled murrelet habitat in the three state forests. In her ruling, Chief Judge Ann Aiken concluded the voluntary suspensions do not go far enough, writing, "Because the suspension of logging activities may be lifted at anytime with 60-days notice, and due to the imperiled status of the marbled murrelet, the status quo includes an imminent threat of irreparable injury under the ESA."
“The state of Oregon’s forest practices are the most reckless in the Pacific Northwest and are pushing the marbled murrelet closer to extinction,” says Francis Eartherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “This ruling should send a signal to the leadership of Oregon that balanced forest plans are critically needed to truly protect the murrelet.”
Murrelet populations are declining steadily, as is their breeding habitat. Oregon has the opportunity to provide for these birds while also ensuring timber jobs through either thinning young plantations or entering into an agreement called a “habitat conservation plan” with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
“This is an important ruling,” said Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society of Portland. “It ensures not only that the existing timber sale suspensions will stay in place until this case is resolved, but also prevents any additional sales in key murrelet areas." 
Oregon recently abandoned its decade-long attempt to develop habitat conservation plans for the Clatsop, Tillamook and Elliott state forests that would have given the state a federal permit for limited impacts to marbled murrelets in exchange for habitat protection measures designed to enhance the bird's conservation. Instead, the State drastically increased the cut on all three forests.
“Logging the last remaining mature and old-growth forests and driving the marbled murrelet ever closer to extinction is plainly out of step with the values of Oregonians,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m thrilled the court has seen the threat posed to these unique seabirds and granted them a reprieve.”
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.


Lawsuit Blocks Elliott Logging

The World by Jessie Higgins
November 17, 2012

ELLIOTT STATE FOREST — The state has withdrawn more than 900 acres of planned Elliott State Forest timber sales, pending the outcome of an environmental lawsuit.

The Oregon Department of Forestry instead plans to open 465 acres of alternative logging sites not named in the lawsuit.

'It's certainly nowhere near what was proposed in the annual operating plan," said Kevin Weeks, a spokesman for the Forestry Department. As Elliott logging funds the Common School Fund, Weeks estimates the shift will cost the CSF $9.85 million in revenue in 2013.

The state had already suspended logging on about 800 acres of timberland slated to be clearcut in 2012, said Josh Laughlin, a spokesman for Cascadia Wildlands.

The environmental groups say deferred logging means another year of protection for the endangered marbled murrelet sea bird.

The lawsuit, filed in May by Cascadia Wildlands and several other environmental groups, alleges the state's logging practices violate the Endangered Species Act by killing the sea birds.

'All the current scientific information suggests the sea birds' population is continuing to plummet in this region," Laughlin said. 'Clear cutting of its nesting habitat is a factor. To us, that suggests that public agencies like the Department of Forestry should take stronger measures to ensure their survival."

The suit will be heard by a federal judge sometime next year, Laughlin said.

If the judge decides in favor of the environmental groups, the state would have to drastically adjust its forest management plan.

Cascadia Wildlands hopes the state will pursue a habitat conservation plan, which manages the forest as a whole, allowing logging in certain regions and preserving other regions as habitat for endangered species.

Such a plan must be approved by federal agencies, as it allows the state to log areas where endangered species live. The state managed the Elliott with a habitat conservation plan for years, but scrapped it in 2011 because the National Marine Fisheries Service would not approve the plan, saying it did not adequately protect Coho salmon.

Under the current forest management plan, all areas of the state forest are open to logging so long as no endangered species live in the immediate vicinity. Areas where murlets nest are protected from logging. The method is called 'take avoidance."

Cascadia Wildlands disapproves of this method because it fails to conserve uninterrupted habitat, instead creating a patchwork of logged and unlogged areas.

Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or

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