A Humboldt marten denning in a large tree hole is awakened by the sound of logging trucks approaching. Her habitat is being removed and she is forced to relocate to a brand new unfamiliar place. This cat-sized mammal lives an elusive life tucked away in parts of northern California and is threatened by industrial logging practices that remove important habitat features like dense understory bushes and large tree cavities. They are a part of the weasel family, which includes river otters you may have seen at the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka.
Humboldt martens live in 5% of their historic range and were thought to be extinct until a population was found in Six Rivers National Forest according to U.S. Forest Service researchers William Zielinski and others. Now nearly 25 years later, there are less than 100 individuals in California according to the Environmental Protection and Information Center (EPIC). The Humboldt marten’s low population numbers necessitate more protection so this unique mammal named after where we live is faced with extinction.
One of the biggest threats to the marten’s growth is logging. Martens rely on old-growth forests and areas with dense understory for cover from predators, which is removed from industrial logging. Green Diamond owns over 373,000 acres of land in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, approximately 11% of the total area combined according to their California Timberlands Forest Harvest Plan. The company plans to log in marten habitat in Del Norte County, according to the CAL Trees website. These harvest plans will affect the endangered species’ habitat and hinder population growth. Logging decreases connectivity and genetic diversity between different subpopulations, which is needed for healthy marten populations according to research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.The Environmental Protection and Information Center (EPIC) and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have worked since 2010 to get legal protection for these mammals. In October of 2018, the Humboldt marten was finally listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently proposing to list them as a threatened species. However, the listing of Humboldt martens as endangered rather than threatened will further protect them from the destruction of their habitat from logging.
Here is how you can help the face of the redwoods make a comeback:
Support the non-governmental organizations Environmental Protection and Information Center and Center for Biological Diversity in their process to get the marten further legal protection.
Public comments can be emailed to email@example.com. Cal Fire has the power to decline Green Diamond’s forest timber harvest plans that cause habitat loss for the marten in Humboldt and Del Norte County.
Follow this link https://www.fws.gov/duspit/contactus.htm to send a message to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and urge them to list the marten as endangered instead of threatened to ensure further protection.
Help save the legacy of the Humboldt marten to make sure that Humboldt County is known for more than our timber harvest. Besides, who wouldn’t want this cute critter to be around our beautiful forests for generations to come?
Sara Moriarty-Graves is a Human-Wildlife Conflict class participant at Humboldt State University. She resides in Arcata.