Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Revises Critical Habitat for Marbled Murrelet; 189,671 Acres Removed

Oct 04, 2011

October 4, 2011
Contact: Doug Zimmer, 360-753-4370


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Revision of Marbled Murrelet Critical Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a revision of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet, a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The revision removes approximately 189,671 acres of forest land in northern California and southern Oregon from the 3,887,800-acre 1996 critical habitat designation. Approximately 95 percent of the 1996 designation remains in place.  The marbled murrelet is a small seabird that spends most of its time in the marine environment and nests in forests along the Pacific Coast. 

The Service is also finalizing a taxonomic revision of the scientific name of the marbled murrelet from Brachyramphus marmoratus marmoratus to Brachyramphus marmoratus to reflect a change in the recognition of the North American marbled murrelet as a separate species from the Asiatic marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus mamoratus perdix). The two were previously classified as sub-species. 

Intensive surveys conducted since 1997 have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the species’ biological needs and the specific areas that are essential for the recovery of the species.  Accordingly, we have determined that the areas being removed are not essential to the conservation of the species and do not meet the definition of critical habitat. The habitat in these areas does not contain elements of the physical or biological features in an appropriate quantity and spatial arrangement that are essential for the conservation of the species.  

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation as critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits. 

Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat. 

The revision of critical habitat was published in today’s Federal Register. The final rule, maps and descriptions of the areas proposed for critical habitat can be found at:

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