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Action timeline

October 1, 1992 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the marbled murrelet as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in California, Oregon and Washington.

May 24, 1996 – The Service designated 3,887,800 acres of inland nesting habitat in Washington, Oregon and California as critical habitat for the marbled murrelet.

September 24, 1997 – The Service published a recovery plan for the murrelet.

August 10, 2005 – The Center filed a lawsuit to stop Pacific Lumber Company from logging marbled murrelet habitat. The suit charged the California Department of Fish and Game with issuing illegal permits to kill murrelets and coho salmon through the infamous Headwaters Deal.

September 12, 2006 – The Service proposed a near 95-percent reduction to the amount of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet. This ultimately unsuccessful proposal would have protected only 221,692 acres, down from the 3.9 million acres originally designated in 1996.

April 30, 2007 – The Center and a coalition of environmental groups countered a timber industry attack on the marbled murrelet. The industry had filed a lawsuit attempting to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protections for the murrelet. Their lawsuit was largely based on statements made by the Service under pressure from the Bush administration’s Interior Department appointee Julie MacDonald, who later resigned in controversy.

August 28, 2007 – The Center initiated the largest substantive legal action in defense of imperiled species in the history of the Endangered Species Act. Our notice of intent to sue targeted the Bush administration’s consistent political interference in protecting 55 species as well as the squelching of government scientists. Among the species referenced in the notice was the marbled murrelet.

February 5, 2008 – The timber industry lost the lawsuit that the Center and allies had countered in April 2007.

July 31, 2008 – The Service proposed amending designated critical habitat for the marbled murrelet with the removal of 254,070 protected acres. If adopted, this action would result in a revised designation of approximately 3.6 million acres.

October 2, 2008 – The Service released a 90-day finding proclaiming that it found merit in a timber-industry petition suggesting the removal of the marbled murrelet’s threatened classification under the Endangered Species Act. The petition was based on a Service finding that the tristate population of marbled murrelets no longer counted as a “distinct population segment” — a determination now proven to have originated from political interference in science (and acknowledged to be flawed by the Service itself).  

December 1, 2008 – The Center and eight conservation allies submitted comments to uphold protections for the marbled murrelet in the face of the Service’s suggestion to remove the species’ protected status. We declared that not only should the bird retain federal protection; it should in fact be given increased protection by granting it endangered rather than threatened status and by including murrelets found in British Columbia and Alaska in the Endangered Species Act listing.

June 17, 2009 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report finding that marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon and California were distinct from those in Canada and Alaska, and that their continued protection was required.

July 16, 2009 – In response to a lawsuit by the Center and 12 allies, the Obama administration announced it would cancel the Bush-era Western Oregon Plan Revision, which would have nearly quadrupled current logging on public lands in western Oregon, including crucial marbled murrelet habitat.

January 19, 2012 – The Center, Cascadia Wildlands and the Audubon Society of Portland filed a notice of intent to sue the state of Oregon over clearcutting practices on the Elliott, Tillamook and Clatsop state forests harmful to the marbled murrelet. 

May 31, 2012 – The Center, Cascadia Wildlands and the Audubon Society of Portland filed a lawsuit in federal court charging that the state of Oregon’s clearcutting practices illegally harm marbled murrelets within the Tillamook, Clatsop and Elliott state forests in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

October 24, 2012 – The Center and 20 other conservation groups sent a letter to the Obama administration asking it to withdraw from a recent agreement with the timber industry that, if approved by a federal court, would eliminate protection from 3,887,800 acres of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet until 2018.

November 14, 2012 – The state of Oregon has suspended logging on 914 acres of old-growth habitat for the marbled murrelet on the Elliott State Forest.

November 2012 – A federal court judge halted 11 timber sales and all logging activities in occupied marbled murrelet sites in the Tillamook, Clatsop and Elliott state forests until the resolution of a case filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center and Portland Audubon Society asserting that the state's logging practices are harming the seabird.

April 1, 2013 –  Marbled murrelets and their old-growth forest nesting habitat in the Pacific Northwest kept their protections after a Washington, D.C., district court rejected both a timber industry proposal to eliminate all critical habitat protections and a direct challenge to protection of the murrelet as a threatened species. 

June 19, 2013 – The Center filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Parks and Recreation for its failure to protect an the marbled murrelet, under the new management plan for Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

Marbled murrelet photo by Rich MacIntosh, USGS