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CALIFORNIA'S FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY JOINS LAWSUIT TO OVERTURN MARBLED MURRELET LISTING

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Forestry Association and several other forest products organizations in the Pacific Northwest today announced that they have sued the Clinton Administration over their decision to list the marbled murrelet as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., charges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) erred in finding that the birds along the coastline of California, Oregon and Washington were a "distinct population" from those in Alaska and British Columbia, and that it had insufficient evidence to list the bird. As plaintiffs, the forestry organizations are asking that the FWS listing be overturned.
 If upheld, the listing assures even greater economic disaster to a region already under siege by the listing of the northern spotted owl, an issue for which President Clinton promised a solution at his April 2 Forest Summit in Portland, Ore. Forest products companies and land owners of all sizes will be impacted through the suspension and possible cancellation of existing federal timber contracts, restrictions on future timber sales and by the threat of prosecution for harvesting timber on private lands.
 "If this is part of the balanced solution President Clinton promised then we want no part of it," said Donn Zea, vice president of the California Forestry Association. "The president and Interior Secretary Babbitt have publicly stated that we must address environmental protection from an ecosystem approach, not by single species. Now FWS has determined a population of murrelets to be threatened within political, not biological, boundaries. This is business as usual and a deadly blow for rural communities and our overall economic recovery," Zea concluded.
 The FWS proposed listing the California-Oregon-Washington grouping of murrelets as a threatened species in June 1991 in response to a petition filed by the National Audubon Society, which estimated the total three-state population to be approximately 12,000 birds. At that time, however, FWS admitted there was disagreement as to whether the 12,000 birds were a "distinct population" from the estimated 300,000 or more murrelets in British Columbia and Alaska, as required for listing under the Endangered Species Act. After a court challenge by various Audubon Society chapters, FWS listed the California-Oregon-Washington population of the murrelet as threatened but agreed to additional comment and review of the listing at the end of 90 days. That review, at this date, has produced no response from FWS.
 "There is no justification for the use of political boundaries to define distinct population segments," said Robert Taylor, director of wildlife ecology for the California Forestry Association. "Populations should be defined on biological evidence alone, and that evidence does not exist for the marbled murrelet."
 The suit, entitled Northwest Forest Resource Council v. Babbitt, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
 -0- 8/2/93
 /CONTACT: Donn Zea or Bob Taylor of the California Forestry Association, 916-444-6592/


CO: California Forestry Association ST: California, District of Columbia IN: PAP SU:

LH-TM -- SF011 -- 8621 08/02/93 21:22 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 2, 1993
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