On June 8, 2018 in Baker City, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) Commission voted (4-2) not to uplist the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered. The commission wants to wait for more information from a state-funded Oregon State University (OSU) study of this seabird. Further, discussion on finalizing and adopting survival guidelines was deferred to the commission’s August meeting.
The ODFW commission heard testimony from more than 30 people, including county commissioners concerned about the economic and social impacts of the decision.
Commissioners Tim Josi (Tillamook), John Sweet (Coos), Simon Hare (Josephine), and Tim Freeman (Douglas) spoke to the ODFW commissioners. Commissioner Josi talked about the Forest Trust Lands, and the potential impact to counties and citizens from taking more land out of the productive land base. Commissioner Sweet described the sequence of events that have eroded critical county funding and the difficulty counties have in providing public safety, health, and social services. Commissioner Hare expanded on funding issues and addressed the shortcomings of the science that ODFW used to justify uplisting the marbled murrelet. Commissioner Freeman walked the ODFW commissioners through a petition for reconsideration that Douglas County submitted to the agency. He outlined the social and economic impact to Douglas County and its citizens, and further emphasized the shortcomings of ODFW’s science.
State Representative (and former Curry County Commissioner) David Brock Smith was the final person to testify, rounding out strong representation that urged the ODFW commission not to uplist the marbled murrelet.
Columbia, Tillamook and Lane counties sent letters expressing opposition to uplist the marbled murrelet.
Commissioner Mark Bennett (Baker)opened the meeting outlining the issues that ranchers are facing with wolves. In setting the stage for the tenor of the day’s discussions, Commissioner Bennet emphasized the importance of ODFW working together with local governments and stakeholders to strive for policies that consider social and economic impacts along with environmental considerations. He made a strong case for convening meetings with local officials and citizens before rules and actions are designed within ODFW. That will result in regulations that will work better on the ground for people, the environment and the wildlife. Commissioners Bill Harvey (Baker) and Mark Owens (Harney) were there to back up Commissioner Bennett, along with a large contingent of local stakeholders from the ranching sector.
AOC is profoundly grateful for this tremendous effort and the positive outcome that was achieved. This is a strong example of what we can do when we are all pulling in the same direction. Huge thanks to all who took their time to attend and participate!
Contributed by: Susan Morgan | AOC Policy Manager