January Meeting and Program “How Photographing Raptors Changed My Life”
The Skagit Audubon meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, January 14, has been cancelled due to weather and road conditions. We will try to reschedule the speaker for a future monthly meeting.
Presented by Nancy Crowell
Tuesday, January 14th 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
Nancy Crowell is a photographer based in Skagit County, whose beautiful images incorporate flora, fauna and landscapes. A resident of LaConner for 20 years, Nancy will share her photographic journey as inspired by the photogenic qualities of the “magic Skagit valley”, and especially our migrating population of raptors.
Nancy will also describe the current threat to raptors from rodenticides, including what is currently being done to reduce this threat; and, what we can do as individuals and groups to help.
Conservation Report, January 2020
by Mary Sinker (filling in for Tim Manns).
What’s Next for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)? 2018 marked the 100 year anniversary of one of our nation’s most successful laws when it comes to protecting birds. National Geographic declared 2018 to be the “Year of the Bird”, and organizations from National Audubon to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to local birding clubs and groups celebrated how protecting bird deaths from incidental take and securing our energy and economic futures were not mutually exclusive.
Enter the new Administration. Within a year, a decades-long precedent that the Federal government recognized the MBTA applied to individuals, oil and gas development and other industrial development, was reversed by the Dept. of the Interior. Moving forward, only bird deaths resulting from actions undertaken for the specific purpose of killing the birds would be applicable to the MBTA. So, an individual could take down a barn, with full knowledge it was home to baby owls, and not be held liable for their deaths unless the intention of taking down the barn was specifically to kill the birds. What about an oil spill? Under the new interpretation, oil spills not caused for the specific purpose of killing birds would not be applicable to the MBTA. Imagine if Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon occurred now? Both companies would be off the hook for damages under the MBTA.
National Audubon, numerous conservation groups, and eight states immediately sued to vacate the new interpretation. The lawsuit in the US District Court of New York (Southern District) is in the briefing phase. You can follow the case (Docket #18-CV-4596) at Pacer.gov.
Proposed management plan would gut protections for the largest Arctic lake in the United States and other Special Areas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE by Audubon Alaska
November 21, 2019
Joint statement from: Alaska Wilderness League * Audubon Alaska * Center for Biological Diversity * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Northern Alaska Environmental Center * Conservation Lands Foundation * The Wilderness Society * Sierra Club * Native Movement * Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition
Teshekpuk Lake Wetlands. Photo: Kiliii Yuyan
Another federal agency action threatens the health of Arctic land, water, wildlife, and people already suffering the consequences of industrialization and climate change. The Bureau of Land Management took the next step toward undercutting protections for designated Special Areas including the Teshekpuk Lake wetlands, one of the most ecologically important wetlands in the entire Arctic; in the Western Arctic’s National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) by releasing a new draft Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) today.
BLM’s proposal would potentially open some of our nation’s most vital natural places to oil and gas exploitation: millions of acres of wilderness-quality lands with critical habitat for migratory birds, brown bears, caribou, threatened polar bears, walrus, whales and more. The Alaska Native communities that live in the region have maintained a subsistence way of life for thousands of years based on the Reserve’s living resources.
The administration’s proposal ignores local needs and input and could make large swaths of currently protected Western Arctic lands available for exploitation, regardless of the profound negative impacts for water, land, animals, and people in the region.
The existing Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) was completed in 2013 after years of extensive research and broad public involvement. Communities within the Reserve contributed information about land use and traditional knowledge of ecological patterns, and the Interior Department under President Obama spent years working with tribal communities, local governments, the state of Alaska, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group and the public on the science-based protections ultimately adopted in the 2013 IAP.
The areas protected under the current land management plan, including Teshekpuk Lake, Colville River, Utukok Uplands, Peard Bay, and Kasegaluk Lagoon, reflect this greater understanding and awareness that people, animals and plants depend on interconnected natural ecosystems, not fragmented migratory routes and watersheds. New information since the IAP was adopted, including increasing threats from climate change, underscores the critical importance and sensitivity of this landscape and demonstrates a need for increasing, not decreasing, protections.
Unfortunately, the administration remains focused on making as much of Arctic Alaska available for exploitation as possible, regardless of the profound negative impacts. Our coalition remains committed to defending and expanding the protections for Arctic lands, waters, and communities.
Last month, on a damp and chilly afternoon, I had the incredible opportunity of watching six fishers be released in the North Cascades. Fishers were once native to the area, but were unfortunately extirpated from the entire state of Washington by the 1950’s due to habitat loss and over-trapping. These six fishers were captured by trappers in Alberta, Canada and received veterinary care and radio-tracking devices at the Calgary Zoo before crossing the border.
If you are not familiar with fishers, they are a cat-sized member of the weasel family and are closely-related to martens, but are larger and darker. They prefer to live in mature conifer forests that offer lots of large hollow tree trunks to den in. They also play an important ecological role as omnivores and are one of the few known predators of porcupines!
Eighty fishers have been released so far in the North Cascades with the hope that they will establish territories and start to breed. Successful reintroduction efforts have already taken place in the Olympic Peninsula and the South Cascades. Many different organizations have been involved with these release efforts including Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Conservation Northwest, and local area Tribes.
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.