Environmental groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a couple years back after it initially denied the listing. But a judge ordered the Service to reconsider by this month.
Only a few hundred Humboldt martens are left, living in small coastal pockets of forest in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
The proposed “threatened” status would protect the small mink relative from things like trapping, which is still legal in Oregon.
But the proposal explicitly says it will not curb logging practices to protect the animals.
“That’s like saying that you’re going to sober up while continuing to drink — it’s just not going to work,” said Earthjustice lawyer Greg Loarie in a statement.
Environmental groups say habitat loss is a major factor in the marten’s decline, and the proposal continues to leave them vulnerable.
Timber companies in the region have opposed past actions to provide federal protections.
A public comment period on the proposed listing will open October 9, when the proposed rule is officially published.
Recently, California protected the marten under that state’s endangered species act. Oregon declined to list the marten in mid-September.