Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road
Pacific fishers are related to the smaller pine martens and larger wolverines. Fishers were heavily trapped for their fur throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and extensive logging of the Northwest’s old-growth forest devastated their habitat. By the 1930s, this small forest mammal, about the size of a house cat, had vanished from Washington’s forests.
Starting in 2008, Conservation Northwest partnered with state agencies and other organizations to restore fishers to Washington state. This reintroduction effort has been largely successful and more reintroduction efforts are under way to fully restore this small carnivore to the Pacific Northwest ecosystems.
Alaina Kowitz is a communications and outreach associate for Conservation Northwest. She grew up in Northeast Washington and first became interested in wildlife conservation by following this state’s gray wolf reintroductions and the complexities surrounding interfaces between wildlife and people. Alaina graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Studies, and is newly transplanted to Seattle to work for wildlands and wildlife conservation in the Pacific Northwest.
President's Message, May 2016
By Irene Perry
Summer on the Shore observing PUMA's
Summer birding is on the way with song birds establishing territory and singing for mates, Ospreys remodeling their nests, swallows swooping and diving for insects, water birds in breeding plumage, and Turkey Vultures circling in kettles. These are just a few bird behaviors observed in Skagit County now. Plan to observe birds this summer and volunteer for the Purple Martin monitoring team.
Skagit Audubon's Purple Martin project volunteers have installed additional nesting boxes at Ship Harbor in Anacortes, on Padilla Bay just north of the Interpretive Center and at English Boom on Camano. Last year all three of these sites had multiple nesting pairs. Purple Martins have been observed at these sites already this season. Monitoring of the boxes will run from June through August. You do not need to be an expert to volunteer. You do not need to commit to a schedule or certain time of day. This is a fun citizen science opportunity for you to participate in at your convenience. It’s even more fun to do with a friend or your family. All you need is binoculars and all sites can be monitored easily from shore.
Stan Kostka (left) & Mark Perry (right) install PUMA boxes at Padilla Bay
Monitoring the boxes helps to determine the number of nesting pairs at each site. Counting the nesting pairs will provide information on population trends for Purple Martins on the West Coast. Basically, you will be asked to observe the number of birds going in and out of boxes. You will be provided with a monitoring sheet for the site you would like to visit: Ship Harbor, Padilla Bay or English Boom, suggestions on what to look for and a diagram of the labeled boxes. You can even decide how you would like to report your observations, after each visit by email or at the end of August by mail. Our goal is to observe each site at least once a week for 45 minutes. So even if you can observe just a few days, you will be contributing to the data.
Purple Martins are so fun to see and hear. They are very social and vocal. During low tide you can walk closer to the boxes. These birds are very curious and will tolerate people close by. Watching the adults feeding the nestlings as they poke their heads out of the boxes is better than a summer blockbuster! Okay, I do get excited about birds. I hope you're excited to participate. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org on the site you’re interested in monitoring. Make a difference this summer.
Conservation Report, May 2016
By Tim Manns
Tomorrow’s April 23rd deadline for the Skagit Flyer falls right after Earth Day, and I’m glad I could celebrate the 22nd leading a bird walk in Rockport State Park. That remnant of ancient forest an hour east of Mount Vernon is at once a place of serenity and a powerful reminder of what we’ve lost and what we need to protect.
Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) of 1990 requires local governments to manage growth by identifying and protecting critical areas and natural resource lands, designating urban growth areas, and preparing comprehensive plans and development regulations. This approach to growth management is unique among states. The GMA’s intent is to protect the environment and quality of life while providing for sustainable economic development. Skagit County is updating its Comprehensive Plan, looking out 20 years, and Skagit Audubon Society submitted comments supporting several updated sections. We urge the county to implement the 2009 Urban Growth Area Open Space Concept Plan, which outlines a concerted approach to protecting open space and establishing trail corridors connecting developed parts of the county. These routes could play a significant role as wildlife corridors linking areas of habitat as well as enhancing opportunities for walkers bicyclists, and others. Skagit Audubon’s letter also supported the inclusion of reference to climate change (not all commenter’s did!) and the importance of anticipating its effects in the county. The Comprehensive Plan includes a Transportation Element with a significant section on non-motorized projects (trails, pathways, etc.) which some vocal citizens of Skagit County oppose at every opportunity but we see as important environment- ally and encouraging human health and, again, potentially providing wildlife corridors. You can help support these good planning changes by simply showing up at the Skagit County Planning Commission’s meetings on the Comprehensive Plan Update May 10 or 11.
Dogwood and Douglas Fir
Clayton Beach, Larrabee State Park- Photos by Tim Manns
Also nearing the end of an extended revision process is the county’s Shoreline Master Program, required under the Shoreline Management Act of 1972. Shoreline master programs carry out the Shoreline Management Act at the local level, regulating use and development of marine shorelines and of freshwater shorelines along water- ways and lakes over a certain size. This will be the first update since the mid-1970’s. Skagit Audubon submitted comments in April, generally praising the revision. We appreciate the emphasis on no net loss of shoreline ecological functions and the encouragement to restore these important habitats. In late April a University of Washington study came out further confirming that shoreline armoring adversely affects the marine ecosystem. It is disappointing that the Shoreline Management Act has significant loopholes that continue to allow hard armoring in some instances.
Both the Comprehensive Plan update and the Shoreline Master Program revision rouse the anti-government, anti-planning people who see any regulation of property rights as a gross imposition. Ironically, some of the same people decry loss of farmland to development or decline in fishing or other activities they enjoy and that they apparently imagine can go on without regulation. Audubon has an important role to play in standing up for the public good and speaking for the natural world that can’t speak for itself.
EDUCATION GRANT RECEIVED
The Skagit Community Foundation has awarded the Skagit Audubon Society Education Committee a $1,500 grant. This will support our various ed-ucational activities within the region; including purchase of additional educational materials to enhance both our youth and adult programs.
Skagit Community Foundation focuses its attention on local issues and provides resources to meet changing community needs. The foundation collaborates with organizations and corporations to provide support and funds to over 40 community groups. Their long term goal is to secure discretion- ary resources to meet changing community needs.
Skagit Audubon Society Education Committee is excited to be a part of the foundation's network by providing nature programs designed to connect the community to birds and the environment.
GRAND COULEE HIKES, OCT. 8 ~ 9
Join Gene Kiver and Bruce Bjornstad, authors of “On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods”(Vol. 2), for one or two days of hiking in the Grand Coulee. Sign up for one or both hikes. We will explore the Northrup Canyon on Sat. Oct. 8 and Candy Point on Sun. Oct. 9 in the town of Grand Coulee. Northrup Canyon is a 7.2 mile-round-trip hike through a side canyon to Northrup Lake and the plateau surface above. The catastrophic Glacial Lake Missoula Floods created the bizarre landscape in Grand Coulee and other areas in the Channeled Scabland of eastern Washington. Meet at the trailhead at 9:30 a.m.
ADiscover pass is required on all vehicles.
The Candy Point hike follows a short, but steep trail built by the CCC in the 1930s and leads a few hundred feet up to an outstanding view of the Grand Coulee Dam complex. Seen are the interaction of Ice Age glaciers, catastrophic floods, and the lava bedrock of the area. The dam complex, also viewed, was made possible by the combination of geologic events. Meet at trailhead at 9:30 am. Overnight camping is available at Steamboat Rock State Park for those wishing to do both days of hiking. A Discover Pass is required for all vehicles. Motels are also available in nearby Grand Coulee.
Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.
The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.