Be a Lorax! Please Write Today!

Due to format incompatability, this image cannot be expanded. I have summarized it below.

   Once again, the marbled murrelet and our old-growth forests are on the chopping block. Tomorrow (May 3) two nearly-hundred-acre parcels of old-growth Douglas-fir in Wahkiakum and Pacific Counties are being considered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources for clearcutting.

Despite the fact that this is marbled murrelet nesting habitat.
Despite the fact that the murrelet population in Washington State is just 5,600 and is declining at 7.4% per year.
Despite the fact that the murrelet has been listed as a threatened species under both federal and state endangered species legislation.
Despite the fact that the 1997 Recovery Plan for the Marbled Murrelet mandates conservation measures to stabilize and recovery the marbled murrelet populations.
Despite the fact that a team of murrelet scientists recommended in 2008 that the state should specially manage or set aside 100,000 acres of older forests on the Olympic Peninsula and in Southwest Washington for this bird.

Public Lands Commissioner Goldmark and the Board of Natural Resources are essentially ignoring this advice and are postponing the adoption of long-term conservation plan until 2013, continuing to clear-cut marbled murrelet habitat until that time.

Clearcutting is a short sighted, unsustainable way to cut timber.Not only does this practice completely remove all trees, but it creates open edges into remaining forest surrounding the cut; this provides easy access for marbled murrelet nest predators such as ravens and jays which do not traditionally hunt in old-growth forests. In addition, it destroys habitat for other species by the removal of the trees, destruction of the  understory vegetation, increased soil erosion, and increased sedimentation of streams (salmon habitat).

Clearcutting is not management. It is not stewardship. It is not wise. But you are. Please take a minute of your day to write Commissioner Goldmark: and the Board of Natural Resources Ask them to defer clearcutting of all marbled murrelet management areas until the State adopts a long-term conservation strategy consistent with its 2008 science report.

Thank you thank you from me and the murrelet. To read more on this bird, go to

Fog Lark News

Downy Marbled Murrelet on its tree-top nest. Actually this is the preserved form of the chick discovered on its nest in 1974 in a Douglas-fir in Big Basin Redwood State Park in California. The discovery was made not by a birder or ornithologist, but by a tree trimmer working in the 220-foot-high fir. When this chick pecked at his vicious speed saw, the tree trimmer decided the bird was worth saving. The bird is now in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences.  

  I've been writing about clouds almost exclusively the past few months, but it's time to hark back to the subject of my last book,Rare Bird. The bird is the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in the old-growth coniferous forests of the Pacific Coast. Early loggers called it a "fog lark," because they would hear it's call early in the mornings when the thick coastal fog obscured all but the lower trunks of the trees they were felling. Few loggers likely ever saw a murrelet as these birds are secretive and camouflaged in the forest and silent on their elusive nests.

  You can see photos of the murrelet and read more about this amazing bird on my website .

  If you're in the Puget Sound region, I'll be giving two talks about this bird. One (a very brief introduction) for the Olympia Mountaineers Wednesday, March 2, at 6 p.m. And on March 9 for the Seattle chapter of the Sierra Club at the REI. 

The cover of Joan Dunning's new book shows an adult murrelet and it's chick on a moss-covered branch, likely hundreds of feet up an old-growth redwood tree. The nesting location of this unusual bird wasn't discovered until 1974.

  Though my head is in the clouds these days, working onStill Life with Clouds, author-illustrator Joan Dunning, has created a beautiful children's book on the marbled murrelet. It's calledSeabird in the Forest and it's due out in April from Houghton-Mifflin. Click here for a sneak preview of the book. Joan has published several books for adults and children on natural history topics, including Leaving HomeSecrets of the Nest, and From the Redwood Forest . She lives in Arcata, California enviably close to the marbled murrelets. Through her art and writing, Joan has worked passionately to help conserve the old-growth forests and it's mysteries. The story of the murrelet chick is a compelling one that will appeal to adults and children alike.