News Release

April 19, 2012

USFWS and WDNR to Gather Public Input on Marbled Murrelet Plan

Media Contacts:
Taylor Goforth, USFWS (360) 753-9440
Jane Chavey, WDNR (360) 902-1721

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced their intention to conduct public scoping meetings to gather information to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in anticipation of receiving an application for an incidental take permit amendment under section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The amendment involves a proposal to replace the interim marbled murrelet conservation strategy portion of WDNR's 1997 Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for forested State trust lands with a long-term conservation strategy. The marbled murrelet is a small seabird, listed as a threatened species under the ESA, that forages at sea but nests in mature forests.

The Service and WDNR are conducting a joint environmental review and public involvement process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) that includes four public meetings and a 30-day comment period to gather input on the potential content of the marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy. The agencies will accept written comments at the meetings, currently scheduled for:

April 30, 2012, 6-8 p.m., WDNR, Natural Resource Building, 1st Floor, 1111 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA 98504.

May 3, 2012, 6-8 p.m., WDNR, Northwest Region Office, 919 N. Township Street, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.

May 8, 2012, 6-8 p.m., Wahkiakum County Courthouse, Pacific Cascade/River Room, 25 River Street, Cathlamet, WA 98612.

May 9, 2012, 6-8 p.m., WDNR, Olympic Region Headquarters, 411 Tillicum Lane, Forks, WA 9833

Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodations to participate in the public meeting are invited to contact Andrea Butsch at (503) 736-4785 (voice) or (503) 231-6263 (TTY), or andrea_butsch@fws.gov. Reasonable accommodation requests should be received at least 3 business days prior to the meeting to help ensure availability; 2 weeks notice is requested for ASL/ESL interpreter needs.

The announcement will be published in the Federal Register Friday, April 20, 2012, but an advance copy is available today for viewing at http://www.federalregister.gov. Comments will be accepted for 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. The proposal's Need, Purpose, and Objectives and the SEPA Scoping Notice can be found on DNRs SEPA webpage.

In the following months, the agencies will hold a second phase of public meetings focused on conceptual alternatives that they will evaluate as part of the environmental analysis. When the analysis is complete, the agencies will jointly publish a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment and hold additional meetings.

WDNR, led by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, manages more than 3 million acres of state-owned trust forest, agricultural, range lands and commercial properties that earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions, and help fund local services in many counties. In addition to earning income, trust lands help protect habitat for native plant and animal species, clean and abundant water, and offer public recreation and education opportunities statewide.

DNR also manages a significant statewide system of State Natural Resources Conservation Areas and Natural Area Preserves that protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them, and provide access for education and low impact public use, where appropriate.