Elk of the North Cascades - Photo by Jennifer Sevigny
Tuesday, January 10 ,2017 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road
Jennifer Sevigny, current wildlife biologist for the Stillaguamish Tribe, will talk about the management of the North Cascades (Nooksack) Elk Herd. She will cover its history and methods of monitoring it. This includes the GPS collaring project and how its data is being used to create strategies for elk conflict zones along State Route 20.
The Tribes and Washington State have been actively managing this herd through a co-management approach since the late 1990’s. Jennifer Sevigny has been with the Tribe for 15 years. Elk are a culturally significant species for the Tribe and maintaining a sustainable population on the landscape and protecting Tribal Treaty Rights is a primary focus of Jennifer Sevigny’s job.
Jennifer Sevigny have a BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont and a MS in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University (Fort Hays). She spends most of her time working with large game species, but also works with migratory birds and listed species such as the Marbled Murrelet and Spotted Owl. She also leads the Tribe’s Climate Change Program.
Conservation Report, January 2017
By Tim Manns
On January 9th, the Washington State Legislature will convene for a Regular (i.e. budget writing) Session scheduled to end April 23. Meeting the mandate in the State Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision to adequately fund public education, and the pressing need to improve mental health services, will dominate the budget discussion, as will necessary related tax reform. Some legislators have been using these critical needs as reasons for reducing state programs and services vital to restoring and protecting the environment with all the implications such reductions would have for the well-being of people and all other life. The balance of political power in the Senate and House will present great obstacles to passing environmental legislation. It is nonetheless important to make our interests known and push for what we believe important. If our state’s tax system were less regressive, we could readily afford to properly fund education and mental health services without sacrificing the environment.
Audubon Washington, on behalf of the state’s 25 Audubon chapters, participates with over 20 other conservation organizations in the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Each year this group chooses a few areas on which to focus its collective efforts with the state legislature. Priorities for the 2017 session build on those of recent years:
Further improve the safety of oil transportation by rail, ship, and pipeline. Improvements are needed in spill prevention and response, liability for accidental damage, and pipeline safety.
Reform the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) of 1988. Passed as a voter initiative, for 27-years this law has helped clean up 6,600 toxic sites from leaking gas station tanks to large industrial areas along the Anacortes waterfront. MTCA is funded by a tax on hazardous substances with 95% of the revenue tied to oil prices. Since these prices began dropping in 2014, revenue has also dropped sharply. At times the legislature has further depleted the fund by diverting MTCA revenues to needs unrelated to the purposes of the act. The Environmental Priorities Coalition will work to restore and stabilize MTCA funding so that environmental clean-up can continue apace.
Protect regulations regarding instream flow. Protection and restoration of salmon stocks depends on sufficient flows of water in streams and rivers. Inadequate planning and regulation by certain counties plus poor decisions by some landowners have created great pressure to overturn instream flow rules, which would be bad news for salmon and other aquatic creatures, and ultimately for people too.
There are several others areas in which Audubon Washington and the chapters will be active during the 2017 legislative session. Carbon pricing initiative I-732 failed on the November ballot but garnered a higher level of support than many expected. Realizing that climate change is the greatest threat to birds as well as a crisis for people, Audubon will support any well-designed carbon pricing bill or other approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Audubon will also work with the Washington Public Interest Group to build grass roots support across the state for greatly increasing solar energy in Washington while also supporting legislated incentives for installing solar power.
Maintaining forest cover is important for many reasons, including protecting bird habitat. Audubon Washington will continue pursuing what Skagit Audubon initiated a year ago, seeking reform of the Forest Practices Act to prevent clear-cuts in urban growth areas. What happened next to Mt. Vernon’s Little Mountain Park in 2015 despite the city’s critical areas ordinances should never happen again in any of Washington’s urban areas. With other organizations, Skagit Audubon will also keep pushing for the funding needed to protect Blanchard Mountain Forest’s1600 core acres. This is the only remaining place where the forests of the Cascades touch the Salish Sea.
The November 2016 election outcome should motivate us all to practice active citizenship. Here are two ways you can do that:
Sign up for legislative alerts and updates with Audubon Washington:
Participate in Audubon Advocacy Day on February 21st. More information will be coming soon on signing up to visit your state legislators and urge their support for the conservation measures discussed in this report. Let’s go to Olympia!
President's Message, January 2017
By Irene Perry
Sponsor Your Bird for Education
It’s a cold winter’s day. You’re cozy and warm indoors enjoying the perfect view of your bird feeder when suddenly tragedy strikes! A Cooper’s Hawk swoops in and sends the birds fleeing for their lives. Bam! A bird hits your window. Oh no, time to grab a jacket to go out and search for the bird. Was the hit fatal or is the bird just stunned?
This is a scenario I have lived more than once. Most often the bird is just shaken and within a few minutes able to fly away. If I find it on the ground, I always try to place it in a bush far from the reach of my neighbor’s outdoor cat. Occasionally, the hit will be fatal. The bird is then collected in a zip-lock bag with the date, my name and address, and the best ID I can assign. Next, it goes to my freezer so I can forget to bring it to the next Audubon meeting. Better leave myself a reminder before my husband Mark asks if we’re having sparrow for dinner.
This time of year many dead birds are found near our homes in good condition. Skagit Audubon has a program where these birds can be used for scientific study and education. Each month Pam Pritzl brings a cooler to our monthly meeting to collect frozen birds. These birds are then given to the University of Puget Sound. Our chapter now has an opportunity for you to sponsor a bird for our education programs. These sponsorships start at $25.00 for a songbird study specimen. You can also sponsor a bird for taxidermy. Please contact Sheila Pera, email@example.com or Pam Pritzl, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
So the next time tragedy strikes your window, you can make a difference collecting the bird and going through the few steps to preserve and bring it to our next meeting. If your bird is in good condition, consider sponsoring it for our chapter’s education programs. The small things we do together can make a big difference connecting people to nature.
Volunteer at the Bald Eagle Interpretive Center
Celebrate 20 Years of Eagle Stewardship
The winter gathering of Bald Eagles converging on the Skagit River for a salmon feast is one of Skagit County’s great avian phenomena. For 20 years the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Rockport has helped visitors from near and far see and appreciate these birds (http://skagiteagle.org/). Located in Howard Miller Steelhead Park (a Skagit County park) along the Skagit River and operated by the Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team, the center is open weekends December through January and during Christmas week. The nonprofit Awareness Team is dedicated to providing education about bald eagles during the peak of eagle migration and salmon spawning on the Skagit River through a variety of programs and visitor information. The organization depends almost entirely on volunteers and could use your help. Volunteers at the Bald Eagle Interpretive Center welcome guests from across the region, provide information about prime eagle watching spots, assist with guided nature walks, and support general facility operations. Training for volunteers will take place Saturday December 3 from 10am to 1pm, co-hosted by the US Forest Service Skagit Eagle Watchers Program. For more information and to sign up, write to email@example.com or call 360-853-7626.
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.