All Skagit Audubon Society in-person events (meetings, field trips, hikes and education) are cancelled until further notice due to the risks associated with the new coronavirus. We will update this notice and resume activities when the government health authorities say that it is safe to do so.
Please join us for the September 8th Skagit Audubon member meeting and presentation at 7pm:
John Seibert Farnsworth will be reading from his new book, Nature Beyond Solitude: Notes from the Field. Dr. Farnsworth, emeritus faculty in Environmental Studies and Sciences from Santa Clara University, lives in La Conner and the San Juan Islands, and serves as conservation chair for Seattle Audubon. One of the chapters in the book contains a narrative about a hike in 2016 when the author joined up with Skagit Audubon and saw a bird that was a lifer for him, one of 50 species identified that day. Were you on that hike? Please register for the Zoom event at the following link: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwrf-ioqzsuHNUA7RadpQop0DfqbFEGk6Tz
If you would like to sign into the meeting 15 minutes early (at 6:45) SAS Treasurer, Neil O’Hara, will be giving a brief presentation about how to take photos using a scope and a smartphone.
Preregistration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please only one registrant per household. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Please note that we also plan to record this meeting and will be sharing it on our website at a later date. Questions: Contact Carla Helm at email@example.com.
The August 11th Virtual Presentation - “Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter”, presented by Ben Goldfarb, is now available for viewing at the following link: https://youtu.be/VpxZThhwcVM
Conservation Report - September 2020
By Tim Manns
There was no summer pause in the administration’s rollback of environmental regulations. Weakening application of the National Environmental Policy Act to exclude considering cumulative effects and global warming and to limit public comment on major federal projects was a very significant blow. Here in Washington, Secretary of the Interior Bernhardt halted work on the environmental impact statement begun in 2014 for restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades, completely reversing his Republican predecessor’s decision. More than 130,000 public comments in favor of restoration had no weight in comparison with the opposition of eastern Washington Congressman Newhouse and his supporters. There are many more examples of setbacks cutting to the heart of the Audubon mission.
But all is not gloom and doom. Election year deals can cut the other way too. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and Montana Senator Steve Daines, both Republicans concerned about their reelection, persuaded the President to sign the Great American Outdoors Act on August 4th. This bipartisan bill, introduced in the House by Representative John Lewis and for which our own Senator Maria Cantwell deserves much credit, passed House and Senate with veto-proof majorities. The bill provides permanent full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which since 1964 has used offshore oil and gas lease money to buy local, state, and federal park land. The new bill eliminates the need for annual appropriations for this fund, which in many years were far below the authorized $900 million. It also dedicates funds to address the huge backlog of infrastructure repairs in national parks and on other nationally-owned lands.
Another positive example of how things can go even in these dark days was the August 20th decision by Judge Valerie Caproni of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Caproni negated the administration’s attempt to severely weaken application of the 102-year old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). National Audubon joined other conservation groups and states bringing suit. Since 2017 the administration has been trying to exempt non-deliberate injuries to birds from this act. Under this interpretation, the estimated million birds killed by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill would have resulted in no penalty to BP. Here in Skagit County, Puget Sound Energy would not have to equip powerlines with devices to warn away swans. To ensure that inadvertent as well as deliberate injury to birds continues to be covered by the law Representative Lowenthal and 18 bipartisan original co-sponsors have introduced the Migratory Bird Protection Act (H.R. 5552). For more on this and to add your support: https://www.audubon.org/news/a-new-bill-aims-counter-rollback-bedrock-bird-law. For over a century, the MBTA has been the most important law protecting birds in the U.S. We need this additional legislation to cement that protection for all time.
At every level of government this November’s ballot will include candidates with distinctly different stands on crucial environmental issues such as climate change. It’s essential to stop the rollback of what has been accomplished over the last many decades and to stop ignoring the very serious challenges we now face.
KATHRYN HALE AWARDED INAUGURAL SKAGIT AUDUBON SOCIETY SCHOLARSHIP
KATHRYN HALE AWARDED INAUGURAL SKAGIT AUDUBON SOCIETY SCHOLARSHIP THROUGH SKAGIT VALLEY COLLEGE
May 21, 2020
Dear Skagit Audubon Society,
As a recipient of the Skagit Audubon Society Environmental Conservation Scholarship, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because of your generous contribution, I will be able to pursue a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Environmental Conservation at Skagit Valley College.
I have chosen this program because I believe it will equip me to find a position where I can help preserve important ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. I believe that an important component of preservation is community involvement, and I look for any opportunity to share the beauty and wonders of the natural sciences with my community.
As a single parent, earning this degree seemed like a pipe-dream for a long time. But I have had the privilege of setting an example for my daughter as I have pursued this dream. She has watched me struggle to reach my goals, and she will grow up knowing that she can meet any goal if she is willing to put in the hard work for it. When I decided to come back to school, I set a goal to earn an Associate’s degree from the Environmental Conservation program at Skagit Valley College. I have encountered numerous challenges, but with a lot of hard work and a strong support system, I will be completing an Associate’s of Applied Science in Environmental Conservation at the conclusion of Summer quarter this year. This goal has become an important stepping stone to my fully realized goal of completing my 4-year degree. I look forward to going out into my community equipped with the crucial education I am receiving at Skagit Valley College.
I am truly humbled to receive this award. Your contribution has made a difference in my life that goes above and beyond any measurable value. Thank you.
FROM YOUR EDITOR - September, by Mary Sinker
When we last signed off for the summer, in the midst of a global pandemic and with spring migration well underway, many of us were trying to sort out how we might be able to safely bird outside our own backyards. Thankfully, our public lands were beginning to open, and they’ve remained open so we have been able to safely venture out to find some of our summer birds and to check up on our year-round residents who are also raising their young. Warblers, tanagers and Evening and Black-headed Grosbeaks are just a few of our colorful summer visitors.
Now as the days begin to shorten, our summer visitors are finishing up parenting duties in preparation for the journey southward. Some of our spring migrants have already returned from the north – I saw the first Greater Yellowlegs at Hayton just after the 4th of July – and more shorebirds are arriving daily. In recent days a flock estimated at 1,000 Western Sandpipers was feeding at Hayton, and Wiley Slough has been hosting Long-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, and both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
If spring migration offers the promise of the next generation, fall migration fulfills that promise as juvenile birds drop in to rest and feed. Some of these birds travel thousands of miles using navigational methods not yet fully understood by scientists. For birders, these are exciting times and an unexpected or rare visitor is always possible. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic but our public lands are open and birding is an activity that can be enjoyed with the appropriate precautions and social distancing. The birds are here and more are on the way!
From the Education Committee - Parents, Grandparents: Looking for something to do with kids during this pandemic?
The weather is getting nicer and everyone wants to get outdoors to enjoy the sunshine while still staying safe. There are a number of websites that have suggestions for indoor and outdoor activities kids and adults can enjoy together. The Audubon for Kids website has loads of ideas for parents and kids to enjoy together. Weekly segments focus on different aspects of birds and birding: https://www.audubon.org/get-outside/activities/audubon-for-kids. eBird (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) website provides a series of Lessons and Activities for grades K-2 through 9-12. According to the website: “These hands-on activities are designed to explore nature and science with a combination of indoor and outdoor activities that will ease cabin fever.” https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/science-nature-activities-for-cooped-up-kids/. The Children and Nature Network has a number of family centric indoor and outdoor activities on their website: https://www.childrenandnature.org/2020/03/16/10-nature-activities-to-help-get-your-family-through-the-pandemic/. Another great idea is a bird journal. Our website, https://skagitaudubon.org/education has a journal ready to copy. Using an iPhone, smartphone, or point and shoot camera, have the kids take pictures of birds in their yards. Then use a simplified bird guide (or pictures on the computer) to identify the birds. Have the kids draw a picture of the birds in the journal (or attach a copy of the photo). Then have the kids note the major characteristics of the bird. We also have an area in the Education section of the website for kids to post their photos. Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com
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.