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Fri Mar 14 2014 (Updated 04/13/14)
Protections Increased for Endangered Seabird in Santa Cruz Mountains State Parks
Settlement Will Reduce Threats to Marbled Murrelet From Garbage, Predators
The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement on March 11 with the California Department of Parks and Recreation that will substantially increase protections in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in old-growth forests. The settlement requires the agency to reduce dangers posed by visitor trash, which harms murrelets by unnaturally increasing the abundance of predators that eat eggs and chicks.

In June 2013 the Center filed suit challenging the state’s inadequate protections for marbled murrelets under its new management plan for Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a heavily visited park that supports the largest remaining old-growth nesting habitat in the central coast region. Visitor garbage in campgrounds and picnic areas in Big Basin and two other redwood state parks has led to unnaturally high densities of ravens and Steller’s jays that eat murrelet eggs and chicks. Scientists have found that high nest predation is a primary factor driving the declines of murrelets in the region.

The new agreement requires comprehensive measures to protect marbled murrelets in Big Basin Redwoods, Portola and Butano state parks, including: Comprehensive trash management requiring animal-proof food-storage lockers at all campsites, installation of indoor dishwashing stations, and increased trash pickup to prevent dumpster overflow; extensive public outreach that makes the murrelet a focal point of the parks; and annual monitoring of marbled murrelet status and predator numbers and a comprehensive assessment every three years requiring further action if murrelet status does not improve.

Read More | Center for Biological Diversity

Previous Coverage:
Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Marbled Murrelet in Santa Cruz Mountains
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