By STEVEN DUBOIS
Of the Associated Press
PORTLAND — Two federal agencies are at loggerheads over a decision to remove five old-growth trees from the habitat that supports a threatened sea bird during breeding season.
The U.S. Forest Service cut the massive trees — one was 238-feet tall — in late April at the Sunshine Bar Campground near Port Orford in southwest Oregon. The threatened marbled murrelet nests in the campground, though it's unknown if any were in the trees at the time they fell.
The agency generally must get a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take a tree during the breeding season. But Fish and Wildlife did not know the trees were gone until getting a tip in late July.
“We're still trying to figure out the rationale,” said Jim Thrailkill, a field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Forest Service officials declined phone interviews this week. In written responses Friday, the agency said the trees were located near a campsite and at high risk of losing limbs or falling. Of the five hazard trees that were removed, the Forest Service said, one was completely dead and the other four had dead tops.