By Tim Mann
Protecting local heronries through Critical Area Ordinances: The Growth Management Act requires Washington cities and counties to each have a Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) regulating development near wetlands, steep slopes, and certain other areas. The CAO can also protect habitat for specified wildlife species. It can, for example, specify restrictions around the communal nesting sites of Great Blue Herons. This species is of special note in Skagit County because herons are so abundant here, attracted to the rich feeding opportunities in the bays and fields plus the availability of nesting sites. With over 700 nests, the March Point heronry may well be the second largest on the U.S. West Coast. There are also several smaller heronries in Skagit County, many located on land owned by the Skagit Land Trust. Skagit Land Trust staff and volunteers are working through the long process of modifying the CAOs of Anacortes and Skagit County to protect these important sites. Public meetings are scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6 pm (no public testimony) and Jan. 21, 2020 (public testimony taken) in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room (1800 Continental Place, Mt. Vernon). Showing up will show public support for protecting heronries in the face of likely opposition from certain commissioners. Anacortes will hold a similar meeting in the future.
Tongass Roadless Rule: In 2001, President Clinton approved the Roadless Rule to protect millions of National Forest acres from road building and timber harvest. About half of the biggest National Forest, the 18 million acre Tongass in Southeast Alaska, is protected in this way. The Tongass is the largest temperate rainforest in the world, tremendously important for wildlife habitat, for sequestration of atmospheric carbon, and for its sheer natural beauty. The present Administration in Washington, DC is moving to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, which would degrade this world treasure and set a precedent for exempting other national forests from the Rule, including two million acres in Washington State. Please submit a comment urging upholding the Roadless on the Tongass National Forest. Information on how to comment by the Dec. 17, 2019, deadline is at https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2019/10/15/usda-forest-service-seeks-public-comment-draft-environmental-impact. Alternatively, sign a letter at Wash. Wild’s website: https://wawild.org/take-action-stand-up-for-national-forests-in-alaska-and-your-own-backyard/ (beside the posting date of Oct. 16, 2019).
For more conservation issues visit: https://skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes.