The marbled murrelet is a small seabird that flies up to 55 miles inland to nest on the mossy branches of mature and old-growth conifers. The murrelet is in decline due to the loss of vital nesting habitat, mainly from historic and ongoing logging. Federally-listed as threatened, and state-listed as endangered, this is a critical time for the seabird and its declining population.

marbled murrelet
Marbled murrelet – Brachyramphus marmoratus Photo: Rich MacIntosh – USGS

The marbled murrelet is what is known as an indicator species, meaning it is a species that helps scientists measure the environmental condition of a region. A declining population of marbled murrelets suggests that the overall health of the region might be in peril.

In December 2019, the Board of Natural Resources adopted a Long-term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet and in doing so obtained a permit from the federal government that will allow the agency to harvest timber while impacting marbled murrelet habitat. Unfortunately, the adopted strategy is far less protective than effective conservation of Washington’s murrelet population requires. You can read our response to this decision here.

Our state forests provide habitat for a number of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. By protecting marbled murrelet habitat, we are also protecting an entire ecosystem.