Marbled murrelet endangered seabird (photo © Rick & Nora Bowers/

LTE: Forward-thinking conservation

Originally published in The Register-Guard, Letters to the Editor
August 1, 2021

Recently, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission delivered a commonsense vote reclassifying the marbled murrelet from “threatened” to “endangered” under Oregon’s Endangered Species Act. This decision puts Oregon on par with Washington and California, where the imperiled seabird is classified “endangered.”

While the logging industry claims this decision goes against science, citing the 2021 Marbled Murrelet Status Review that purports population stability on public lands across the state, these findings conspicuously omit a key peer reviewed study and fail to reconcile with the best available science that shows murrelets on the southern Oregon coast face an 80% risk of extinction by 2060 and murrelets on the central/northern Oregon coast face an 80% risk of extinction by 2100.

Despite this convenient analytical sleight of hand, the 2021 review states that just one environmental disaster could eliminate Oregon’s entire murrelet population. As a result of climate change, “rare” catastrophic events are becoming concerningly commonplace.

Just before voting, Commissioner Kathaloon Khalil stated that far too often, we lack the forward thinking to make conservation efforts before it is too late. This time, the commission prioritized conservation with a decision backed by science, choosing not to wait until it is too late. Bravo.

Marty Farrell, Eugene

Marty Farrell moved to Eugene in the fall of 2020 to attend Oregon Law and pursue a career working for environmental justice. Marty is a 2021 Summer Legal Intern at Cascadia Wildlands.