Due to the continuing emergency response to the COVID-19 virus, our in-person member meetings, field trips and hikes and most other activities have been cancelled until further notice. This includes the offer of personal field trips for future donations to Skagit Audubon Society of $100 or more. We will update this notice and resume activities when the government health authorities say that it is safe to do so.
JANUARY MEETING – PRESENTED ON ZOOM
Bring Back the Pollinators presented by Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation Tuesday, January 12, 7:00 PM
Xerces Society Ambassadors, Katie Hefner and Rebekah Gaxiola, will present this fascinating introduction to native bees, their natural history, and tips on how you can provide what they need in small spaces. The information will focus on the four principles of Xerces Bring Back the Pollinators campaign: grow flowers, provide nest sites, avoid pesticides, and share the word.
Rebekah hails from Oregon and is currently a PhD student at WSU Vancouver studying insect pollinator community response to disturbance. She grew up down the road from the Portland Audubon Society and spent a lot of time there, which influenced her to become a biologist.
Katie has been a Xerces Volunteer for almost 2 years. She is passionate about both invertebrates and education. She is happy to have opportunities from Xerces to put the two together.
Preregistration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please only one registrant per household. After you register you will receive an email with the link to sign in at the time of the event. Questions? Please contact Carla Helm at email@example.com.
If you missed the excellent December 2020 Member Photo Program, or want to watch it again, a recording is now available for viewing at the following link: youtu.be/H2hZT2p1P84
Conservation Report - January 2021
By Tim Manns
Protecting the Skagit River’s Headwaters: Skagit Audubon recently signed letters to Governor Inslee and British Columbia Premier Horgan from a coalition of U.S. and Canadian conservation and governmental groups urging permanent protection for the “Donut Hole”. This is an area surrounded by B.C.’s Manning and Skagit Valley Provincial Parks where Imperial Metals Corporation owns rights to an allegedly large copper deposit. The company’s request to begin mineral exploration has raised alarm among environmental groups in British Columbia and Washington State and among other entities with downstream interests, from the Swinomish, Upper Skagit, and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes to municipalities such as Mount Vernon and Anacortes which draw water from the river. There is a significant chance that toxic runoff from mining the Donut Hole would drain to the Skagit with dire effects on salmon, people, and any others dependent on the river. A coalition of groups in the U.S. and Canada is meeting biweekly to pursue permanent protection for the Donut Hole and, thereby, the Skagit River.
Washington State Legislature: The state legislative session will run from January 11th to April 25th. Audubon Washington staff and chapters statewide will pursue 3 priorities:
1. Protect conservation funding in the state operating and capital budgets 2.Pass a Clean Fuel Standard 3.Update the Growth Management Act to include climate change and environmental justice as planning elements
You may have heard Governor Inslee discussing the Clean Fuel Standard, which has gone before the legislature several times and may succeed in 2021. With transportation the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington, this bill would be a significant step in addressing climate change, a crisis for both birds and people. Read about Audubon’s work in the legislature and get involved: https://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020. Audubon is also part of the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Learn about the coalition’s priority issues at www.wecprotects.org.
Protecting Heronries – A Disappointing Reversal: In late November, Skagit County’s Board of Commissioners deliberated on the 2019 docket of proposed changes to the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). This ordinance has long included attention to protecting great blue heronries, but vagueness makes the protection largely ineffective. The County Planning Commission, which lacks background in wildlife science and shows little sympathy for habitat protection, voted against staff recommended improvements to the ordinance that emphasized following Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife guidance. The Planning Commission even censured the one Commission member who voted differently and distributed a minority, pro-heronry protection opinion. Thank you to the many Skagit Audubon members and others who wrote the Board of County Commissioners urging them to reject the Planning Commission’s recommendation and instead follow science and common sense and adopt what the planning staff advised. And thank you to Skagit Land Trust for initiating this project. Unfortunately, Commissioner Ron Wesen switched his vote between November and the final vote on December 21st, joining Commission Dahlstedt in rejecting the staff recommendation. Just before the vote, Commissioner Lisa Janicki said, “I would argue that ignoring the plight of the Great Blue Heron is not something I want to be remembered for.”
In early December, Skagit Land Trust did the annual nest count in the March Point heronry, believed the first or second largest in the western U.S. The total: 706 nests. The fragility of such mega-colonies was brought home in 2017 when the adult herons suddenly abandoned their over 300 nests during the breeding season. If the March Point heronry suffers a similar fate, we’ll remember December 21st, 2020, when Commissioners Dahlstedt and Wesen voted to do nothing.
For more about issues Skagit Audubon is tracking, go to “Conservation” on the Skagit Audubon website (www.skagitaudubon.org) and click on “Conservation Notes”.
Snowy Owls Featuring Paul Bannick
Skagit Audubon Society and North Cascades Institute are thrilled to be partnering together to welcome award-winning author and photographer Paul Bannick for a special class on the Snowy Owl. We hope you'll join us as Paul shares an intimate look into the life history of one of North America’s most charismatic birds, the Snowy Owl!
Paul will combine his breathtaking images, first-hand accounts, video, sound, and science to help inspire conservation and education efforts as well as to help spread awareness about the threats facing these owls and what we can do to protect them. You will also be given a chance to ask Paul all of your burning owl questions after his presentation.
Paul is proud to have recently published two new books: Great Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History and Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History. Both books feature several dozens of never-before-published images, some of which capture behaviors rarely witnessed and perhaps never before photographed. The photos work with first-hand field accounts, which are illuminated by our most up-to-date understanding of these species. You can order copies of the books signed by Paul if you go to his website: http://paulbannick.com/shop.
FROM YOUR EDITOR - January 21, by Mary Sinker
The Christmas decorations are barely put away when my thoughts begin to turn towards once again getting out into the yard and plotting the next season’s strategy for some vegetables and flowers. Our five-acre property already includes salmonberry, huckleberry and we have the constant battle to beat back invasive Himalayan blackberry. Birds and other wildlife enjoy the berries from all these shrubs but I want to add more manageable bird-friendly berry-producing shrubs in the garden.
With the help of resources from National Audubon, the Washington Native Plant Society and Seattle Audubon, I’ve identified some possible candidates: Highbush Cranberry, Western Serviceberry, Salal, Oregon Grape, Thimbleberry, Rugosa roses and Snowberry. All of these shrubs produce berries or fruits that attract birds.
As a gardener, I look forward to each new season with excitement and anticipation. As a birder, I am equally excited to improve the garden for birds and to see who is attracted to the new plantings. Are you perhaps thinking of adding bird-friendly shrubs or plants to your garden but might be uncertain where to start? Bird-friendly plants and shrubs are available for spaces large and small and you don’t have to take on a commercial-size landscape project to benefit the birds in your yard. The birds in your yard will thank you and you may even attract new visitors! Resources: www.audubon.org; www.wnps.org/salal; www.seattleaudubon.org.
The Education Committee needs volunteers to help with a number of adult presentations coming up in the next several months. These Power Point presentations are scheduled at libraries and private organizations/clubs in the area. If you can help give part of a presentation (already written), that would be great; or, you can assist with the computer and help answer questions from the audience. If you can lend a hand, please contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.