Conservation Column Jul-Aug 2013: Marbled Murrelets, Pesticide Use, and Waldo Lake

Lane County Audubon Society has joined more than 100 conservation and scientific organizations in signing a letter to the Obama administration requesting greater protection for the Marbled Murrelet, a federally threatened seabird (click here to see the article on the Marbled Murrelet).

The northwest populations of Marbled Murrelets have declined by 29% over the last decade. Threats to the birds are numerous. They forage for fish, but studies indicate that they may be forced to select less preferred foods due to the disruption of the ocean food chain. Lane Audubon has supported efforts to sustainably manage forage fish and other actions to restore the food chain.

The murrelets build their nests in old trees in the coastal forests, but, unfortunately, logging is removing much of their nesting habitat. Further threats come from the fragmentation caused by both thinning and clear-cutting, leaving the nestlings vulnerable to predators such as crows, ravens, and jays. We will keep a close eye on proposed changes to the Northwest Forest Plan as well as on proposals to manage the O&C forests so important for ecosystem health.

The Oregon Senate recently voted to approve HB 3364, which will improve coordination among state agency programs that implement Integrated Pest Management on state-owned and leased properties. The bill aims to reduce the use of pesticides on state property and will require that alternatives to chemical application be considered.

The Oregon state legislature has voted to ban motorboats and seaplanes from Waldo Lake. The bill will reaffirm an earlier state Marine Board ruling that attempted to ban seaplanes as well as motorboats; however, it was ruled that the board did not have the jurisdiction to do so. Waldo Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon, is among the purest lakes in the world. The ban will help to protect the waters from pollution and invasive species.