The Importance of Place: Place-Based Science and the Swinomish Culture
Presenter: Todd Mitchell
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
The Swinomish People have long standing traditions of protecting, honoring, and thanking Mother Earth for the resources that nourish our people. The culture of the Tribe is intrinsically tied to the health of the environment that sustains the habitat for our important natural resources. While some of our work is directed at addressing immediate and specific environmental or ecological concerns, our objectives focus on the long-view and sustaining the Swinomish culture. We use the knowledge of our ancestors combined with scientific research to develop innovative ways to protect our environment and resources not just for now but for the next seven generations. Our work is strongly place-based and centered not just on protecting the natural resources themselves, but also sustaining access to the cultural practices they support. For Swinomish, it is not enough to simply work for the survival of a species or habitat: we strive to protect and preserve resources and their place in Swinomish culture.
Todd Mitchell, a Swinomish Tribal member, is a geologist and the Environmental Director of the Swinomish Department of Environmental Protection, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. His research includes the Tribe's water resources including tidelands, surfacewater, groundwater, wetlands, salmon habitat restoration research, and the connection of natural resources to the Tribal culture.
Conservation Report, June 2018
By Tim Manns
Initiative I-1631: This May, Audubon State Director Gail Gatton said, “Our mission is clear: we support climate action that will swiftly and effectively reduce carbon pollution, the number one threat to birds.” This sense of urgency to address global warming, combined with a pragmatic willingness to not insist on perfection, led Audubon Washington and many of the state’s 25 chapters to actively support Initiative-732 two years ago. Had it become law, there would already be a price on carbon emissions in Washington State. Over 40% of voters supported that initiative, which gives hope that I-1631, for which signatures are now being gathered, can pass. Economists across the political spectrum believe that taxing greenhouse gas emissions is an efficient and effective way to quickly reduce fossil fuel dependence and transition to renewable energy. The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a large coalition of environmental, labor, and social justice groups, worked long and hard to draft I-1631 and now has a large effort underway gathering the signatures needed to put it on this Fall’s ballot. The board of Audubon Washington, Governor Inslee, and many other organizations and individuals are in support. As of this writing, the Skagit Audubon board has not yet had the opportunity to decide whether to join in but should vote at its June meeting. Please take a few minutes to read about how I-1631 addresses global warming in a way with real promise to be effective while also redressing the disproportionate impacts of carbon pollution on communities and groups and helping ensure a transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry. Go to https://jobscleanenergywa.com/ Details of the initiative are at https://jobscleanenergywa.com/ballot-filing-statement/
The basics of the pricing scheme: Beginning in 2020, a fee equal to $15.00 per metric ton of carbon content. In 2021, the fee increases $2.00 per year until the state’s 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal is met and the state’s emissions are on a trajectory towards compliance with the state’s 2050 goal. The Washington legislature set these carbon emissions reduction goals years ago but has yet to establish a path to meet them. I-1631 would do this. See what you think. Sign the initiative petition so that voters this Fall can decide whether to support what would be an example to the rest of the U.S.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act: Of the many other current issues, let me reiterate the need to uphold the long-held interpretation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is the deepest irony that this July 3rd marks the hundredth anniversary of the signing of this most important law protecting North American birds even as it is being very seriously weakened by the current presidential administration. While we should be celebrating, we instead need to make an all-out effort to hold the line. If the Administration’s re-interpretation of the act holds, individuals and corporations will no longer need to take measures to avoid accidental or incidental injuring and killing of birds. Failure to prevent birds from landing and dying in oil field waste pools, colliding with power lines, and many other artificial hazards would no longer have consequences. There would be no motivation to even try to prevent such incidents. Go to https://www.audubon.org/ and scroll down to information about the Act and how to contact your member of Congress about it.
Additional Conservation Issues: For information on other issues relevant to Skagit Audubon, check the Conservation Notes on the chapter website: http://www.skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes. I’ll try to update these from time to time during the coming months.
In May I traveled to Massachusetts visiting family and friends and stopped in Concord because of Henry David Thoreau. Last year was the bicentennial of his birth there, and I’d read a new biography that does a good job depicting him as the engaged Concord community member that he was. We tend to picture Thoreau as a skilled observer of the natural world and a loner best known for his brief time living in a small cabin at Walden Pond. In fact, for all his brief life Thoreau was deeply ingrained in the Concord community. While there, I went to the public library, where the special collections librarian made my day by retrieving from the vault Thoreau’s original manuscript of his essay “Walking” and showing me, in Thoreau’s hand, the much-quoted words, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Thoreau wasn’t choosing between wild nature and society but finding the necessary balance between the two. Rather than escaping society to live in isolation, as he may have preferred, Thoreau lived a life of involvement with those around him while also engaging regularly with nature. Those of us that care about the wild world, we Audubon members, are called to such a life today.
NEWS FROM THE EDUCATION COMMITTE
For the third year in a row, The Skagit Community Foundation has award Skagit Audubon with a grant. This $2,000 grant will be used to enhance our adult presentations and children's educational activities. Many of the children’s programs center around professionally mounted displays of birds and the use of these displays has added more interest to our educational programs. In the past, the grant funds have paid for mounts of owls, hummingbirds and Great Blue Heron. Part of the 2018 funds will pay for the mounting of a Peregrine Falcon and Cooper’s Hawk. Children are not the only ones enjoying the mounts and the Education Committee has several presentations geared for adults that are augmented by the use of them.
NATIONAL ACTION ALERT
NATIONAL ACTION ALERT – PEBBLE MINE, BRISTOL BAY, ALASKA
There are few places on earth as important for birds and for salmon as Bristol Bay, Alaska. And few places could be worse for a massive mining operation. Despite opposition from local residents, Native communities, and commercial fishermen, developers are pushing ahead with the dangerous Pebble Mine proposal, and the federal government is now considering whether to give the mine a green light. Bristol Bay supports an astounding number of birds. Up to 13 million seabirds depend on its bountiful waters as they forage across the Bay in the summer. The rocky cliffs and islands in this part of southwest Alaska draw in millions of nesting seabirds, including Tufted Puffins, while the rich lagoons and lowland areas attract hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. These rich waters also bring in astonishing numbers of salmon, supporting thousands of jobs and the traditions and subsistence of Alaska Native people. Only a few years ago, the EPA determined that the impacts of this proposed mine could be “catastrophic.”
NATIONAL ACTION ALERT – ARCTIC REFUGE OIL AND GAS PROGRAM - Public Comment Deadline: On or before June 19, 2018 (postmark date not sufficient)
As the Trump administration moves forward to develop an oil and gas program in the Arctic Refuge, the first step in the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process – scoping out all the issues that the government will consider in the environmental impact statement – is beginning. Audubon is also very concerned with reports that the administration and other officials will expedite the NEPA process to finalize its decision by 2019. Now is the time for the public to step forward and submit public comments on your concerns involving matters such as vehicle tracks on tundra vegetation, caribou response to infrastructure, oil spill impacts on nearby bird populations, and infrastructure impacts and displacement of secretive and sensitive breeding bird populations. The coastal plain is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge and the proposed infrastructure and development raises new questions that have never before been considered.
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.