This October, Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team will climb in search of the marbled murrelet, a rare sea bird that nests in the coastal temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. In response to the threat of increased clear-cutting in the Elliott State Forest, volunteer climbers will document and report nest sites that should be protected under the Endangered Species Act but may have been overlooked by professional ground surveyors. NEST’s fall season will initiate the first ever activist survey team for the marbled murrelet.
Currently, timber companies clearcut up to 500 acres of ancient forest in the Elliott each year. Under the Oregon Department of Forestry’s new proposed plan, to be implemented in 2012, the cut may increase to 850 acres per year.
The marbled murrelet is very sensitive to changes in its environment. Preferring old-growth trees for nesting, the murrelet also needs continuous canopy cover to protect it from predation. Coupled with a low reproductive rate, in order to thrive the marbled murrelet needs an undisturbed forest. Unless the marbled murrelet habitat remains unlogged, we will see a continued decline of this endangered species.
By surveying in the fall, climbers will avoid rustling feathers during murrelet nesting season, which runs from late spring through mid-September. NEST will focus on sensitive watersheds, such as the Millicoma River, that will be impacted by nearly a dozen clear-cuts in the coming year. Surveyors will cooperate with ODF in avoiding active logging areas.
NEST is a 501(c)3 non-profit under the League of Wilderness Defenders. The organization formed during the Fall Creek tree-sit in 1998. NEST has stopped dozens of timber sales on public lands by documenting red tree vole nests, which are protected by a ten-acre buffer under the Northwest Forest Plan. As the forefront of old growth logging shifts to less protected State lands, NEST hopes to break tradition and work under the Endangered Species Act.
For more information on NEST, check our website: nestcascadia.wordpress.com