FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2023
Renewed Cook Creek Logging Will Harm Coho Salmon, Marbled Murrelets
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands filed a notice of intent today to sue the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding the reopening of Cook Creek Road in the Oregon Coast Range.
Reopening the road will allow renewed logging and harm Oregon Coast coho and marbled murrelets, both of which are protected as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
“If FEMA is going to pay to rebuild a logging road, it has to consider how logging will hurt the species that live there, plain and simple,” said Meg Townsend, senior freshwater attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Cook Creek provides excellent habitat for coho salmon and marbled murrelets, not to mention clean water and a place of solace for all Oregonians.”
The road has been closed since a portion washed out during storms in December 2015. Cook Creek is relatively intact and borders areas proposed for protection by the Oregon Department of Forestry. It’s also a prized fishing stream. Last year, fishing groups joined other conservation groups in opposing logging in the Cook Creek watershed, which is designated as critical habitat for Oregon Coast coho.
Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies, including FEMA, are required to ensure that the actions and projects they fund do not jeopardize threatened species. FEMA wrongly concluded that reconstructing the road wouldn’t affect coho. In doing so the agency only considered the road itself and not the logging made possible by the road and planned by the Department of Forestry. This is a clear violation of the law.
“Oregon should not be using disaster relief funds to subsidize commercial timber operations, particularly not where it will harm threatened species and their habitat,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands.
The Department of Forestry has two timber sales planned for 2024 in the Cook Creek watershed. The sales involve clearcutting nearly 700 acres and constructing more than 3 miles of new logging roads. These activities have the potential to seriously harm coho and murrelets.