Scientists, Conservation Groups Oppose Oregon Logging Plan

(Washington, D.C., February 5, 2014) The proposed O & C Land Grant Act, S. 1784, would increase the risk of extinction for the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl, two species protected by the Endangered Species Act and President Bill Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan, according to scientists as well as local, regional, and national conservation groups including American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on S. 1784 is set for February 6 at 9:30 am (EST) in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building. American Bird Conservancy has submitted testimony for the record.

“We are urging Senators to oppose this bill because it includes a plan to log areas that are now protected habitat for the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Advisor with ABC. “The Northwest Forest Plan would be weakened by this legislation, in spite of the fact that the Plan is working. It is restoring forests, improving water quality, and storing carbon. Logging mature forests and weakening environmental laws puts that progress and two endangered species in jeopardy.”

National wildlife conservation groups—including ABC, National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Sierra Club, and others—also sent a letter to the Senate urging opposition to the bill. Proposals to increase logging in currently protected forests has spawned opposition from scientists working to conserve the threatened Marbled Murrelet, a seabird that nests in the top branches of mature and old-growth trees. The Pacific Seabird Group, an international, nonprofit organization that promotes the study and conservation of Pacific seabirds, sent a letter to President Obama stating, “… we have a high level of concern about current proposals to increase logging in western forests, where the cumulative impacts of the patchwork landscape could exacerbate problems already faced by the Marbled Murrelet.”

The group pointed out that plans to increase logging and create a timber trust on the Oregon & California (O & C) Railroad lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management would be particularly harmful to the murrelet. “Impacts on the Marbled Murrelet could be severe, because the lands that likely would be logged and fragmented include active murrelet nests and surrounding forest habitats.”

“The O & C logging plan defies common sense and is a threat to the Endangered Species Act because it promotes the elimination of endangered species habitat,” said Holmer. “Hundreds of thousands of acres of critical habitat needed for the recovery of the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl could be logged under this bill.”