FWS drops plans to cut critical habitat for marbled murrelet
In a significant and unexpected victory for environmentalists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reversed its plans to significantly cut critical habitat for the marbled murrelet. The tiny seabird is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the FWS had threatened to cut over 90 percent of its critical habitat as part of the Bush administration’s plans to increase logging of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. But with the reversal, 3.9 million acres of federal old-growth forests will remain protected. Along with the spotted owl, the fight over murrelet habitat has pitted forest and species advocates against timber interests eager to log federal forests. “This reversal, coupled with a recent court decision throwing out a timber industry attempt to delist the murrelet, should end the timber industry’s profit-driven and illegal attack on the coastal forests that murrelets need to survive,” said Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles.