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Media Release: Audio Recording of the Threatened Marbled Murrelet, an Old-Growth Dependent Seabird, taken in the Endangered Central Walbran Valley

Ancient Forest Alliance, July 17, 2015

Media Release: Audio Recording of the Threatened Marbled Murrelet, an Old-Growth Dependent Seabird, taken in the Endangered Central Walbran Valley
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A Marbled Murrelet floats on the sea.
Photo: Martin Raphael / Wiki Commons / Licensed under CC-BY-2.0

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2015
 
Audio Recording of the Threatened Marbled Murrelet, an Old-Growth Dependent Seabird, taken in the Endangered Central Walbran Valley
 
Two new recordings of the calls of a threatened, old-growth dependent seabird, the Marbled Murrelet, have been taken in the endangered Central Walbran Valley recently and were submitted last Friday to BC’s Ministry of Environment in hopes the new findings will halt logging plans in Canada’s grandest old-growth temperate rainforest.
 
The recordings by TJ Watt and Jackie Korn of the Ancient Forest Alliance were taken on July 4 just before 5 am in the Central Walbran Ancient Forest - just three hundred meters away from a renowned stand of endangered old-growth western redcedars, the Castle Grove, whose upper slopes are currently under threat of logging. The Surrey-based Teal-Jones Group, which logs endangered old-growth forests, including ancient western redcedars, for pulp, paper, and solid wood products, is in the midst of controversy over its plans to log eight cutblocks (clearcuts) in the heart of the Central Walbran Ancient Forest, including in the Upper Castle Grove, as well as plans to log two new cutlbocks in the nearby Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forest (see a media release at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=903)
 
 
“We hope that finding a species at risk in this endangered old-growth forest – a species in which government scientists state that old-growth logging is the main threat to its survival – will halt the BC government’s approval of old-growth logging permits here. This is particularly important because the rate of old-growth habitat loss of the Marbled Murrelet on western Vancouver Island has been proceeding rapidly due to logging,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner.
 
“While the Walbran has been known as a Marbled Murrelet breeding hotspot for decades, it should also be noted that endangered, lowland ancient forests like these are filled with numerous other species at risk. If the BC government and Teal-Jones keep moving forward to ensure old-growth logging in the Central Walbran, then they are endorsing the annihilation of these species at risk,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director.
 
In particular, conservationists are requesting that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations deny a cutting permit for Teal-Jones for Cutblock 4424 in the Upper Castle Grove, which so far is the only cutblock that the company had applied to cut among 8 proposed cublocks.
 
Birders were perplexed for over a century about the whereabouts of the nesting sites of the Marbled Murrelet in Canada, until the very first nest was located in the Central Walbran Valley by researchers from the University of Victoria in 1990 - in close proximity to where Teal-Jones’ current logging plans are.
 
The Marbled Murrelet is a species at risk that is federally listed by COSEWIC as “Threatened” and by the BC government as a “Blue-listed” species of special concern. It is a robin-sized seabird that catches small fish in the ocean and flies typically up to 50 kilometres inland to nest on the wide, mossy limbs found only in old-growth forests. The primary threat to their populations is cited by scientists to be the destruction and fragmentation of their old-growth nesting habitat by logging (“…the Marbled Murrelet is assessed as Threatened primarily because of inferred population declines due to historical and continued loss of old-growth forest nesting habitat,” - Recovery Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet in Canada, 2014) and several populations have declined over the years.  See a BC Ministry of Environment backgrounder on the species at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/murrelet.pdf and a recent report by the federal Marbled Murrelet Recovery Team on their habitat needs and conservation status at http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/plans/rs_guillemot_marbre_marbled_murrelet_0614_e.pdf
 
The BC government has established a limited number of Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHA’s) for the Marbled Murrelet, but with a proviso that the habitat protections for species at risk in general don’t impact the available timber supply for logging by more than 1%. In addition, these WHA’s are often established within existing provincial parks, which are already protected.
 
See maps and stats on the remaining old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
 
(***NOTE: News media are free to run any video footage and photos, credit to “TJ Watt” where possible. Contact us if you need higher res video or photos)
 
Conservationists are escalating pressure on the BC government and the company through a public awareness campaign of hikes, expeditions, protests, and letter-writing drives. Activists are calling on Teal-Jones to back off from logging the Central Walbran and Edinburgh Mountain Ancient Forests, and the BC government to protect them through expanded Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s), core Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHA’s), Land Use Orders (LUO’s), and/or through a proposed new “legal tool” to protect BC’s biggest trees and grandest groves, which the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations is currently developing.
 
The Walbran Valley is popular for recreationalists, including hikers, campers, anglers, hunters, and mushroom pickers, and is located on public (Crown) lands in Tree Farm Licence 46 near Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht Nuu-cha-Nulth territory. 
 
“Teal-Jones seems to be committing to a War in the Woods by aggressively moving forward to log southern Vancouver Island’s most contentious ancient forests. The Walbran Valley was the birthplace of the ancient forest protest movement in Victoria decades ago. Logging there has repeatedly triggered protests, beginning in 1991 and flaring up regularly for more than a decade thereafter. Thousands of British Columbians love the ancient forests of the Castle Grove, Emerald Pool, Bridge Camp, Summer Crossing, and Fletcher Falls in the Central Walbran Valley,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. 
 
“Because of the ideal growing conditions in the region, Canada’s temperate rainforests reach their most magnificent proportions in the Walbran, Carmanah, and Gordon River Valleys. They’re Canada’s version of the American redwoods. Given this fact – and that virtually all of the unprotected ancient forests are either clearcut or fragmented by logging today on southern Vancouver Island – it should be a no-brainer that the two largest, contiguous tracts here, the Central Walbran and Edinburgh Mountain, should be immediately protected”, stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer.
 
The Central Walbran’s old-growth western redcedar, Sitka spruce, and hemlock forests have long been proposed for protection by the environmental movement since the early 1990’s, when the valley was “ground zero” for protests by southern Vancouver Island’s environmental movement. The early Walbran protests played an important role in supporting the build-up towards the massive Clayoquot Sound protests near Tofino on Vancouver Island in 1993.
 
The Castle Grove is considered by many conservationists as the finest, unprotected stand of monumental old-growth western redcedar trees in Canada. It includes a flat section (Lower Castle Grove), currently without any logging plans, and an adjacent mountainside (Upper Castle Grove) that is now under direct threat by Teal-Jones. Teal-Jones had flagged part of the Upper Castle Grove for logging in the 2012, but after a public campaign by the Ancient Forest Alliance, the Ministry of Forests reported later than year that the company was not intending to log there – unfortunately, since then, the company is now proposing to place three clearcuts in the Upper Castle Grove. See the video and the media releases from 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHnG_sC4oms  and http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=515 
 
Old-growth forests are vital to sustain endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations.
 
On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.
 
The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.
 


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