The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Email:,

Groups Join Legal Battle to Protect Rare Seabird from Timber Industry Attack


Seven conservation groups today moved to participate in a federal lawsuit brought by the timber industry to gut protections for the marbled murrelet and its critical nesting habitat in Washington, Oregon, and California. The suit D.C. district court, is the timber industry's third such attempt in the last decade.

"Unless we keep protections on federal public old-growth forests that murrelets need to nest and raise their chicks, our murrelets will go extinct," said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice. "The timber industry lost its previous lawsuit attacking murrelets, and we want to make sure it loses again."

The marbled murrelet is a shy, robin-sized seabird that feeds at sea but nests only in old-growth forests along the Pacific Coast. Murrelets don't actually build nests, instead laying their single egg only when they can find a natural, moss-covered platform where the massive branches of old growth Douglas fir and redwood trees join the tree's trunk. In 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon, and California as a threatened species due to over-logging of coastal old-growth forests. Despite undisputed scientific evidence that murrelets are disappearing from the Pacific Coast, the timber industry has set its sights, once again, on the small seabird in order to increase logging of forests over 100 years old.

"This timber industry attack ignores biological reality--murrelets in our region continue to struggle to survive," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Without old-growth forest protection, murrelets will disappear from our coast."

"The marbled murrelet is one of the most amazing seabirds in the world. Murrelets fly miles inland to old-growth forests to nest, and where those forests have been logged, murrelets are in decline," said Dan Ritzman, deputy director of the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats Campaign.

Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Audubon Society of Portland added, "The focus needs to be on recovering murrelets and restoring their habitat, not on lawsuits that would return us to an era of unsustainable logging."

Represented by Earthjustice, Audubon Society of Portland, Seattle Audubon Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation NW, Environmental Protection Information Center, Oregon Wild, and Sierra Club moved to intervene in the timber industry lawsuit to defend the murrelet.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.