WA murrelet strategy should “meet only minimum federal standards for protections”

At least that’s what the Washington state politicians are urging their Department of Natural Resources to adopt for its lands.

The DNR is currently considering five different proposals to protect the bird species. A final decision is expected within the next few weeks. Walsh has come out in favor of “alternative B” which he says would meet minimum federal standards for species preservation while ensuring the least amount of negative impact on local economies.

A press release noted that Walsh, and his peers who signed off on the letter to the DNR, believe that reduced timber sales in coastal communities would “create significant economic hardship on counties and communities that can least afford it.”

In other words, let’s manage this species so it stays on the edge of extinction.  This is why we have endangered species (and a federal Endangered Species Act).

7 thoughts on “WA murrelet strategy should “meet only minimum federal standards for protections””

  1. Under the ESA protection has a higher standard than to “maintain a specie on the edge of extinction” or did I misunderstand the act?
    If the DNR is meeting the minimum standards then by default they are doing more than maintaining the specie on the edge of extinction.
    This is no different than saying we need a 300’ buffer, then complaining because the buffer is 300’ and not 400’.

  2. The definition of an endangered species is one that “is in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range.” A threatened species is one that “is likely to to become an endangered species with the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” There is also a requirement in ESA to “(carry) out programs for the conservation of endangered species species and threatened species …” However, there is no requirement to implement recovery plans, and the recovery aspect of ESA is generally considered unenforceable. So, with respect any particular decision, it’s essentially a “don’t make things worse” law, and we can and do choose decisions that perpetuate the current dire status of the species.

    The marbled murrelet is a threatened species, so maybe you could say it’s a step away from the edge of extinction. My point is that without ESA, economic drivers would likely result in little or no buffer, and with ESA, there is little willingness to do more than the minimum. (There are habitat restoration programs to the extent funds are available, but that is a different question from whether to modify or stop actions that harm the species.)

  3. Seems to me that the continuing debate about people’s basic needs and creatures’ needs can only intensify as the human population increases. Can there be any doubt regarding which side will eventually prevail?

    • ESA was adopted because “these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific values to the Nation and its people” (apparently in 1973 they didn’t recognize the medical or other economic values or didn’t want to include them). The assumption has always been that conserving species and their ecosystems helps provide for people’s needs. Economic conflicts in a particular case should be considered against this bigger picture. At least until our country becomes so poor that it chooses to discount these non-economic values.

      • “At least until our country becomes so poor that it chooses to discount these non-economic values.”
        And then we will endanger ourselves because we have become too densely populated, destroyed our renewable resources and exhausted our non-renewables and fouled our own nest to the point of bringing on the next major extinction event leading to a renewal of the earth if we don’t blow it up first.

        I’d say that, except for well heeled enviros, the perception is that we are already there. That may not be the facts relative to the rest of the world because we are certainly a wealthy nation with cell phones and tv for everyone but it certainly is the perception.

  4. Interesting comment, Gil. I’d say enviros think we are closer to extinction than those who aren’t, but they haven’t given up yet. It’s when the enviros give up that we should all be much afraid.

    Follow-up story: http://www.waheagle.com/story/2017/11/16/news/natural-resources-board-picks-plan-for-marbled-murrelet-management/13755.html

    “They picked an alternative that the board basically came up with,” Cothren said. “The economic impact was just a real minor consideration.”

  5. To me what’s really interesting is that a large portion of the enviros completely ignore their audience and seem lost as to why their message is being shrugged off or completely ignored.
    Sitting in a public meeting about the economic and health impacts of smoke recently, a pair of enviros got up and gave comments of how “beautiful” fire was and how great it was for habitat, the second one got up with a similar message followed by “smoke is natural, toughen up”…. pretty sure they lost at least 100 advocates in just 10 minutes. Although I did try to get the moderator to let them have more time to really cement the deal.
    If they suddenly go quiet, there will be few that notice.


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