During the 2013 survey season, we documented several instances of occupied behavior in the Adams Ridge area, in the Southwest corner of the Elliott State Forest. We had a total of 118 detections in this area over five survey days and the most exciting days of all season for spotting the elusive marbled murrelet. Below is a copy of the letter we drafted to managing agencies and conservation organizations to explain our findings. This area is part of a 2,700 acre land sale proposed by the Department of State Lands.
July 30, 2013
To whom it may concern,
This letter accompanies results from a series of supplemental citizen surveys performed by Coast Range Forest Watch in the Elliott State Forest in July and August of 2013. The intent of this letter is to explain the results of our surveys and the accompanying data forms. All surveying and data transcription was completed by Coast Range Forest Watch volunteer surveyors who received professional training in surveying for Marbled Murrelets provided by Mad River Biologists. Mad River Biologists provide training courses to standards set by the Pacific Seabird Group’s Marbled Murrelet Survey Protocol. These courses are the industry standard for qualifying Marbled Murrelet observers.
These results are from surveys performed on 7/14, 7/21, 7/30, 8/2 and 8/4 in the southwestern corner of the Elliott State Forest along Palouse Creek. Multiple stations were surveyed simultaneously during each of these days. When a Murrelet is observed flying, its height relative to the top of the canopy is determined by the observer; birds flying at or below canopy level are considered to be exhibiting sub-canopy behaviors. Sub-canopy flight indicates that a site is occupied by Marbled Murrelets.
On July 14, vocalizations of Marbled Murrelets were documented in this parcel. According to the PSG Protocol, non-stationary vocalizations (H or “heard only” detections) indicate that an area is potential Marbled Murrelet habitat. This area is defined as having Marbled Murrelet Presence according to the PSG Protocol on site classification. However, with no sub-canopy behavior observed the site is not considered occupied.
On July 21, both vocalizations and sub-canopy behaviors were observed. On this day AJS recorded five detections with sub-canopy flight and five heard-only or auditory detections. CBM recorded one subcanopy flight detection with vocalizations and one heard-only detection. The significant visual detections that occurred during the surveys on July 21 warrant this area classified as occupied by Marbled Murrelets according to PSG protocol.
On July 30, another follow-up survey was conducted by four surveyors at two survey stations in the Adams Ridge parcel. CBM, AJS and RPO documented 40 detections at their site, 5 visual and 35 heard-only. Of the five visual detections at this station, one was sub-canopy circling, two were sub-canopy straight flight, one was straight flight above the canopy and one was circling above the canopy. At a separate survey station, MB recorded 26 auditory but no visual detections.
On August 2, MB documented seven auditory only detections.
On August 4, AJS, CBM, RPO and MB documented 34 detections; 18 auditory only, 9 seen only and 7 heard and seen. Of the 16 visual detections, 10 exhibited sub-canopy behaviors; 8 of which were circling below the canopy.
According to this series of surveys and the behaviors we have observed and documented, this area is classified as occupied by Marbled Murrelets according to the PSG Marbled Murrelet Survey Protocol. The land around this area is under consideration for sale by the Oregon Department of Forestry as part of the Adams Ridge parcel. Currently, there is no Marbled Murrelet Management Area in the immediate vicinity of the survey sites mentioned above.
We urge managing agencies to take this information into consideration before releasing the Adams Ridge area for sale.