Agency proposes dropping seabird coastal habitat

PORTLAND, Ore. — The federal government has proposed to help settle a lawsuit by dropping nearly 4 million acres of designated “critical habitat” for the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests in Oregon, Washington and California.

The Oregonian reported that the federal lawsuit pending in Washington, D.C., was brought by the American Forest Resource Council, southwestern Oregon’s Douglas County and the Carpenters Industrial Council.

The Forest Service says continuing coverage under the Endangered Species Act and the Northwest Forest Plan will protect the bird until the budget allows the service to set a new habitat designation in 2018.

Conservationists criticized the proposal in a letter to President Obama, saying the Forest Service has “simply given up,” and the bird’s numbers are still in decline.

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