Audubon's Work to Protect Murrelets
Portland Audubon's history of marbled murrelet conservation.
Audubon's history with the murrelet goes back decades. In 1988, Portland Audubon commissioned biologist and longtime board member Dave Marshall to produce a status report on marbled murrelets. The report concluded, "the principal factor affecting the continued existence of the species over the southern portion of its North American range is destruction of old-growth and mature forests. The situation is particularly critical in California, Oregon, and Washington States, which have very few coastal old-growth stands of significant size set aside."
That same year, Portland Audubon petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. In the absence of federal action, Audubon brought a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 to force a listing decision and in 1992, the marbled murrelet was formally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
In addition to litigation, Audubon is also working on the ground to protect marbled murrelet habitat. Audubon has focused its efforts on an 80,000-acre area between Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head that contains the largest intact stand of coastal temperate rainforest in the lower 48 states. This area -- designated by Audubon as the Marbled Murrelet Important Bird Area -- contains what may be the highest concentration of marbled murrelets in the state of Oregon. The landscape is owned by a variety of public and private entities and its permanent protection is of critical importance to marbled murrelets and a variety of other species. In 2011, Portland Audubon received word that our nomination of this area as a "Globally Significant Important Bird Area" was accepted by Birdlife International -- this designation that will help focus attention and resources to further protect the landscape.
Portland Audubon owns and manages two forested parcels, Ten Mile Creek and Pine Tree Sanctuaries, totaling 216 acres within the MAMU IBA. Paul Engelmeyer, Portland Audubon's Coastal IBA Coordinator, manages these lands for Portland Audubon with a litany of land management goals: improve forest canopy, encourage wildlife habitat diversity, encourage succession to old-growth forest characteristics, create a model for community based protection and restoration efforts. He also works to influence surrounding landowners to shift toward a protection and restoration strategy for the surrounding forest.
In addition, Audubon is working with Our Oceans to create a system of Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas along Oregon's coast to protect critical ocean habitat for seabirds and other marine species. A bill that would establish three new marine reserves, one of them at Cape Perpetua adjacent to the Marbled Murrelet Important Bird Area, is currently making its way through the Oregon legislature.