The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

DNR sets meetings on murrelet strategy

 

September 13, 2018



The Washington Department of Natural Resources and US Fish and Wildlife Service are preparing to gather input on their updated proposed amendments to their long-term conservation strategies for the marbeled murrelet.

The endangered sea bird nests on large limbs in old trees anywhere within a 55-mile range of the ocean, and the agencies' plan would govern timber harvest and related activities in habitat on lands managed by the agencies, including timber trust land benefitting Wahkiakum and Pacific counties.

The agencies have scheduled public meetings, including one in Cathlamet October 11, to explain the update and gather input.

As announced last week by the DNR, "This proposal is to amend the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 1997 State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (State Trust Lands HCP) to include a long-term conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. This is a joint revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and DNR to satisfy both the National Environmental Policy Act and the State Environmental Policy Act.

'This proposal was not included at the time of adoption of the State Trust Lands HCP because the plan provided only an interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. The interim strategy was to remain in place until more scientific information could be collected on habitat on DNR-managed lands and the marbled murrelet’s biological needs to make the development of a long-term conservation strategy possible.

"At this stage in planning, the proposal for a long-term conservation strategy is described as a set of seven alternatives, including a no action alternative. The alternatives represent a range of approaches to long-term marbled murrelet habitat conservation on DNR-managed lands within 55 miles of marine waters. The development of these alternatives was guided by a need, purpose and objectives approved by the Board of Natural Resources and USFWS.

"The no action alternative reflects what would occur if DNR did not adopt a marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy.

"The location for this proposal is in the six westside planning units (land in range of the marbled murrelet in Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, and Whatcom counties) of DNR’s State Trust Lands HCP."

Wahkiakum and Pacific county governments would be adversely impacted under most of seven alternatives because of reduction of harvest from DNR managed timberland.

" These counties are more heavily dependent on timber harvest for local government revenue and have below average economic diversity, compared with other counties in the analysis area," the executive summary states. "The economies of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties are therefore less able to tolerate the reduction in harvest volume anticipated under Alternatives C through G, and Alternative H for Pacific County only, because of their low socioeconomic resiliency.

"Some of the adverse economic effects due to reduced timber supply in the near term could be offset over time by the cumulative benefits of improved efficiencies and effectiveness in forest management, additional opportunities for thinning, which is more labor intensive, more regulatory certainty under the Endangered Species Act, and potential use of the State Forest Trust Land Replacement Program in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties."

Public meetings to explain the update and gather public comment have been scheduled including one in Cathlamet on Oct. 11, 6-8 p.m., in the River Street Meeting Room, 25 River Street.

Similar meetings are planned for Oct. 9 in Forks. Oct. 16 in Seattle, and Oct. 17 in Burlington.

To review the RDEIS and additional information, or to submit comments on this proposal, visit DNR’s website at: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/long-term-conservation-strategy-marbled-murrelet

Comments on this RDEIS should be submitted by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. A link to the public commenting portal can be found on the webpage above, or send comments to PO Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015. Include the SEPS file number 12-0420 on all comments.

 

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