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Marbled Murrelets in Oregon

Marbled Murrelet
Photo by
U.S. Forest Service Martin Raphael

About the Marbled Murrelet

The Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small seabird that breeds along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to central California.

Marbled Murrelets spend most of their lives in marine waters and forage at sea on small fish and invertebrates. Throughout much of their range, they fly inland for nesting in old-growth and late-successional forests.

The Marbled Murrelet was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1992 and threatened under the Oregon Endangered Species Act in 1995. The species is currently listed as state-endangered in both Washington and California.

ODFW Marbled Murrelet Status Review and Rulemaking Process

In June 2016, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coast Range Forest Watch, Oregon Wild, the Audubon Society of Portland, and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club (Petitioners) petitioned the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) to reclassify, or “uplist”, the Marbled Murrelet from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

In September 2016, the Commission found that the petition contained sufficient scientific information to justify proceeding with the requested action and accepted the petition for further evaluation. This decision initiated the rulemaking process, which included (1) consultation with affected agencies, tribes, local governments, other states, various organizations, and the public; (2) a review of the biological status of the Marbled Murrelet in Oregon to determine if circumstances meet legal criteria for reclassification; and (3) peer review of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) biological status report.

In September 2017, ODFW released its draft “Status Review of the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in Oregon and Evaluation of Criteria to Reclassify the Species from Threatened to Endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act” for invited peer review and for comment by interested and affected parties and the general public. Following the close of the 42-day comment period, staff revised the draft and prepared a final status review report. All comments received were considered in the development of the final report.

At the February 2018 Commission meeting, staff presented ODFW’s final Marbled Murrelet status review report and the Commission heard testimony on a range of related topics. The Commission voted to accept the Petitioners’ recommendation to reclassify the Marbled Murrelet as endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act and directed staff to prepare rulemaking to reclassify the species and develop new rules known as survival guidelines for consideration by the Commission at the June 2018 Commission meeting. Marbled Murrelet reclassification would require adoption of survival guidelines to protect the species on state-owned or leased lands and endangered species management planning by some state agencies.  

In June 2018, the Commission declined to reclassify the Marbled Murrelet as state-endangered and directed staff to bring back survival guidelines for consideration at the August 2018 Commission meeting. Once adopted, the survival guidelines would encourage (but not require) certain actions to protect the seabird on state-owned or leased lands. Compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act remains required on all lands independent of the Commission’s decision.

Opportunity for Public Comment

If you would like to be notified of upcoming Commission meetings, you can sign up to receive meeting schedules electronically. The next Commission meeting to include a Marbled Murrelet agenda item is scheduled for August 3, 2018 in Salem. Meeting materials will be available from the Commission’s webpage.

Information on meeting procedures and guidance on providing testimony are available here.

Written comments may be sent to the Commission.

Overview of Chronology

An overview of steps completed (as of June 2018) as well as the anticipated future timeline are outlined below for the Marbled Murrelet status review and rulemaking process.

2016

June 21: Petition filed

September 2: Petition found to contain substantial scientific evidence and accepted by the Commission

September 9: Petitioners notified of Commission acceptance of petition

2017

January-April: Gathered data and literature relevant to status review; began consultation

April-August: Prepared draft status review report

September: Sent out draft status review report for public comment and invited peer review (allowed 42 days for input)

November-January: Addressed comments on draft and developed final status review report; provided notice of final status review report and upcoming Commission meeting to interested and affected parties

2018

February 9: Presented final status review report at Commission meeting; Commission voted to accept the Petitioners’ recommendation to reclassify the Marbled Murrelet as state-endangered and directed staff to prepare rulemaking to reclassify the species and develop survival guidelines for consideration by the Commission
March-May: Drafted survival guidelines

June 7: Proposed rulemaking to reclassify Marbled Murrelet and adopt survival guidelines; Commission declined to reclassify the Marbled Murrelet and asked staff to bring back advisory survival guidelines in August

August 3: Rulemaking to adopt survival guidelines

Additional Resources

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