Logging companies have purchased state land in Oregon, with plans to clear-cut the area for profit. However, one group is now threatening to go forward with environmental litigation if the companies do start logging off their new land, saying that their actions could contribute to the decline in the population of an endangered bird, with the end result possibly being the extinction of that bird.
The bird in question is the marbled murrelet, a seabird that is said to live on some of the land that was sold. The environmental agencies had originally reported only finding that bird on a lone piece of land, but new reports indicate that it may be more widespread, inhabiting many of the parcels that were purchased for longing.
These reports came from Coast Range Forest Watch, a group that is formed by volunteers. They investigated the land that is located near Coos Bay.
Three different environmental groups have come forward to say that cutting the land could put the birds in serious jeopardy by ruining their habitat. They say that this would be a direct violation of the Endangered Species Act, leading to the litigation on their part. The groups involved are the Audubon Society of Portland, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity.
One director argued that the sale should never have even gone through originally, pointing out that the land used to belong to the people before it was sold. He also said that, despite the sale, they could not allow the potential extinction of the marbled murrelet.
Even when companies have the deed to a piece of land, they must adhere to federal and state laws involving the use of that land. This case is very interesting in that it demonstrates just how those laws can dictate what a company is allowed to do, even if they did not know about this impact before buying the land.
Source: The Oregonian, "Don't clearcut Elliott State Forest, harm marbled murrelets, environmental groups warn timber companies" Rob Davis, Jun. 03, 2014