By Tim Manns
At this writing in mid-March, the general air of uncertainty is growing, rather than diminishing. The president’s budget has surprised only the wishful thinkers with its deep cuts to social and environmental programs. Many of the latter lie close to Audubon’s mission and have implications for human health too. Combined with wholesale elimination of regulations that implement core environmental laws, the effects of some budget cuts will be particularly evident right here if they come to pass. Examples include cleaning up Puget Sound, restoring salmon, preserving wilderness areas and national parks, protecting Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, … Some of the deepest cuts are aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and addresses global warming. For those living near industrial plants such as oil refineries, the ideology being played out in Washington, D.C. that would erase environmental regulations has very real implications for the kind of world we prefer to have.
Audubon’s mission focuses on protecting and restoring wildlife habitat for birds and other animals, recognizing that people benefit thereby too. Cuts in funding for oversight by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, for example, would keep it from stemming the decline of species, even in the uncertain event the Endangered Species Act and related regulations remain intact. What becomes then of our ethical and moral obligation to not speed the extinction of other species?
Here and across the U.S. we see many people devoting time as never before to speaking out against rollbacks that degrade the world we want. We need to keep it up. Emailing and phoning legislators is easy. Sending postcards and letters is too. Show up at a legislator’s town meeting and ask a question on something that concerns you and should concern your representatives. It’s easy to sign up for alerts from National Audubon and Audubon Washington and other groups whose ideals you share and to then follow through: https://action.audubon.org/signup/signtoday and https://action.audubon.org/signup/join-our-action-network-10.
While we hope you as an individual will contact your elected officials, Skagit Audubon as a chapter also submits board-approved comments on a variety of issues. For example, the Skagit Board recently approved a letter on the long-delayed National Park Service/US Fish & Wildlife Service plan to restore the grizzly to the North Cascades Ecosystem in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. There are likely no grizzlies left in the U.S. Cascades. Only a few are known to still roam the smaller part of the range in Canada. Skagit Audubon joined other conservation groups in supporting Alternative C. This slow, phased approach would bring about 25 bears to the Vermont-sized, mostly federally-owned ecosystem. With luck, the population of this slowest reproducing of all North American mammals will reach 200 in 60 to 100 years. The comment period for the draft plan and EIS has been extended to April 28th. Go to:http://www.northcascadesgrizzly.org/
Scroll down to the video “Time for the grizzly?” in which bear biologist and Bellingham resident Chris Morgan talks about grizzlies and their successful restoration to western Montana’s Cabinet Mountains.