by Tim Manns
Audubon Advocacy Days: Skagit Audubon cannot endorse political candidates but does advocate for legislation related to its wildlife protection mission. This year Audubon Washington is once again organizing Advocacy Days (December 4 – 8) to facilitate urging our state legislators to support priority conservation bills. There will be information forthcoming about priorities around climate resilience, restoring and protecting habitat, and more. Audubon Washington will provide on-line training for the brief, virtual (Zoom) meetings we will have with elected representatives for our home districts. Read more and register today at: Join Audubon Washington's Advocacy Days | Audubon Washington. Our representatives want to hear from us before and during the state legislative session which begins January 8th.
Restoring the North Cascades Grizzly Bear: November 13th is the deadline for written comments to the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the plan to restore this missing species to the North Cascades. Read the plan and comment at ParkPlanning - Draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan / Environmental Impact Statement, North Cascades Ecosystem (nps.gov). Trapping and hunting wiped out grizzlies, which had been common for thousands of years in the North Cascades. In 1991 the North Cascades Ecosystem was designated one of six recovery zones for this animal listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. The on again, off again process of restoring this keystone species is finally inching forward again. Skagit Audubon is a member of the Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear coalition, whose website offers more background (https://www.northcascadesgrizzly.org/).
Skagit County Shoreline Master Program (SMP): The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) is reviewing Skagit County’s first comprehensive update since 1976 of this required plan for managing shoreline development and protection. Counties are not yet required to address sea level rise in their SMPs, but it would seem commonsensical to do so in one of the counties most vulnerable to this consequence of climate change. In the last few years, a coalition of groups including Audubon Washington and Skagit Audubon have repeatedly made this point to the Skagit Board of County Commissioners. While the commissioners approved forwarding the SMP update to the Department of Ecology without addressing climate change or sea level rise, there was a commitment that the county would apply for a readily available DOE grant to amend the SMP to address these topics soon. It comes, then, as a great disappointment that the county planning department pulled the completed application, and the SMP will likely not address sea level rise until a new state law requires it to do so in eight years at the next mandated update. As is so often the case, the county has been opaque about the reasons for this reversal in the face of repeated, detailed, and expert input from the coalition organizations and their memberships. Other counties around Puget Sound have without fuss or resistance voluntarily incorporated sea level rise into their SMPs years ago.
For more information on conservation issues, please see Conservation Notes on the Skagit Audubon website which can be found here: https://skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes