New day coming for the Marbled Murrelet

As many readers will recall, the SCCA has a long history with the Marbled Murrelet; we’ve been to court 3 times, wrote numerous complaints to the Forest Practices Board, challenged a logging corporation’s environmental certification, participated in various government-initiated reviews, proposed new Wildlife Habitat Areas (about fifty designated so far), and more. All these efforts were successful in certain ways but didn’t fundamentally resolve the problem of logging in the old growth nesting habitat of this small Threatened seabird, until now!

Last fall, British Columbia released the draft Marbled Murrelet Implementation Plan (MMIP) and gave us sixty days to make comment (you can read our submission here). I am delighted to say, we like it!

Just to back up a bit, Canada has in place the Species-At-Risk Act (SARA). The Act requires the federal government to produce a Marbled Murrelet Recovery Plan. We’ve had this plan for a few years now. There are also two Federal/Provincial agreements in which British Columbia commits to meeting the objectives of the recovery plan. The draft implementation plan is about the details of how to do this. The Implementation planners have produced an inventory of all murrelet nesting habitat where ever it occurs in coastal BC. You can check out the maps here.

As well, the Implementation Plan contains a draft Order under Section 7 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, that details the amounts and qualities of land that must be protected. The target is to protect an amount of land equal to 80% of the amount of suitable habitat that existed in 2002. Where this standard cannot be achieved, all remaining habitat must be retained. On southeastern Vancouver Island, for example, this means that all remaining suitable habitat will be protected. In our area, the Sunshine Coast Natural Resource District, this means that ~14,000 hectares of high class suitable habitat will be protected and all suitable habitat in Old Growth Management Areas will be upgraded to Wildlife Habitat Area status.

-Daniel Bouman

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