Author Archives: vashonmauryaudubon2

Quest for climate legislation continues

Following the defeat of Washington’s Initiative 1631, which would have created a carbon emissions fee, you may be wondering what’s being done on the legislative front to act on climate change.

A coalition of 23 environmental groups, including Audubon Washington, is continuing to seek solutions that would reduce carbon pollution fairly and equitably. The Environmental Priorities Coalition has launched a grassroots campaign to pass several climate policies in the 2019 legislative session: a 100 percent clean electricity standard, a clean fuel standard, and enhanced building efficiency standards.

These policies are part of Governor Inslee’s comprehensive proposal to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, carbon-free future. Recent polling reveals strong popular support for climate action, and specific support for these policies.

Here’s some more information about the three policy priorities:

The 100 percent clean electricity standard
This standard would phase out coal-generated electricity by 2025, leading to a carbon neutral electricity sector by 2030. It would phase in electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro, and other clean and renewable resources, reaching 100 percent clean by 2045.

Washington is in a strong position to demonstrate that the transition to a fossil fuel-free electric power system is technically possible, economically viable, and a key driver for new jobs and economic growth. California, Hawaii, numerous cities and municipalities, and a growing list of private sector entities have committed to this clean energy transition.

Clean fuel standard
Transportation fuels are responsible for nearly half of the climate pollution in Washington. The clean fuel standard would require oil refiners and importers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels over time, supporting expanded transportation electrification, lower carbon fuels, and more jobs in homegrown energy production.

Enhanced building efficiency standards
The residential, commercial and industrial sector accounts for a fifth of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Enhanced building efficiency standards would catalyze investments in energy efficiency. With an aggressive new energy efficiency policy, our region could potentially meet 100 percent of its electricity load growth over the next 20 years with energy efficiency.

Vashon Audubon will go to Olympia
Audubon Washington typically hosts an advocacy day in Olympia early in the legislative session. Members from many of the 25 Audubon chapters across the state participate.

This year, Audubon will increase its impact by joining forces with the Environmental Priorities Coalition at a lobby day on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

If you would like to participate and show your support for conservation and climate action, please send an email to info@vashonaudubon.org.

Photo above: Aus Tex Solar.

Don’t miss our January program

Paul Bannick, professional photographer, conservationist, and accomplished public speaker, returns to Vashon on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m. at the Vashon Theatre. Paul’s presentations combine breathtaking photos and videos, evocative audio, and first-person stories from the field.

In his program about North American owls, Paul uses intimate and dramatic images to follow owls through the course of one year in their distinct habitats. Audiences see each stage in an owl’s life: courtship, mating, and nesting in spring; fledging and feeding of young in summer; dispersal and gaining independence in fall; and winter’s migrations and competitions for food.

All 19 species found in Canada and the United States are featured in photos, video, and narrative, with a focus on the Northern Pygmy-Owl, Great Gray Owl, Burrowing Owl, and Snowy Owl.

Paul’s presentations are popular, and last year’s program sold out. We encourage Audubon members to come early.

The program is free; however, we appreciate donations at the door to help support this special event.

Close out the year with the Christmas Bird Count

As a grand finale to your holiday season, consider closing out the year by participating in the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year’s Vashon CBC will take place on Sunday, Dec. 30, from dawn to dusk, followed by a gathering at the Land Trust building at 5 p.m.

The annual Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science project in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the largest in the world. The CBC comprises a census of the individual birds found within more than 2,000 15-mile diameter count circles all across the region, with most located in the United States and Canada, but growing participation in Mexico, Central and South America as well as a few Pacific islands.

The Vashon count regularly records around 115-120 bird species, and recent counts have featured rarities such as Yellow-billed Loon, White-breasted Nuthatch and Red-shouldered Hawk. Our count circle includes all of Vashon and Maury Islands, a section of the Kitsap Peninsula along Colvos Passage and most of Blake Island to the north.

As this is a huge area, we’re looking for as many volunteers as we can find to help cover as much of it as possible. There are several ways to participate for people of all skill levels:

1. Join a team in the field
A number of field teams will venture out to cover particular portions of the count circle, including all of the various birding hot spots. Teams generally spend most or all of the day in the field, and observers with a team can expect to record around 30-50 species with the guidance of experienced team leaders.

2. Count birds at your feeder
If you don’t have the time or inclination to join one of the field teams, you can still help out by counting the birds at your feeder (or anywhere on your property). Birders of any skill level can contribute by spending just a few minutes counting their yard birds.

3. Owling parties
There will also be one or more owling parties heading out from 3 or 4 a.m. until dawn in the hope of hearing some owls calling.

4. Report owls from your neighborhood
As owls can be tricky to locate, another way to assist with the count would be to report any owls you hear calling over the next few weeks, particularly on the day of the count.

5. Allow shoreline access from your property
As there are many portions of the shoreline where there is no public access, if your house is on the waterfront anywhere other than Quartermaster Harbor, you can also help by granting permission to one of the field teams to count seabirds from your property.

At the end of the day we’ll congregate at the Land Trust building for our wrap-up meeting, where the stalwart birders who make this event happen share their triumphs and disappointments over warm drinks and light refreshments.

This year the CBC compiler and organizer will be Ezra Parker. Please contact him at 206-463-0383 or ezra@cfgrok.com if you’re interested in taking part in the count.

Our 2019 calendar is here!

The 2019 Birds of Vashon-Maury Island calendar, featuring beautiful photos taken on the Island by local photographers, is for sale now. Find them at the Vashon Thriftway customer service counter and at the Vashon Bookshop. Cost is $15 each.

Proceeds from calendar sales support Vashon Audubon activities, such as our free presentations by bird experts, participation in Chautauqua Elementary School’s fourth-grade bird program, and Vashon High School scholarships.

Update: The 2019 calendars are sold out. Thank you to everyone who supported Audubon by purchasing a calendar!

Marbled Murrelets need you now

This fall, Washington State is seeking public input on important decisions on the fate of this endangered seabird.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) just released its Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) for the Long Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. This strategy will be implemented on 1.4 million acres of state forest for the next 50 years.

This is a critical time for the endangered seabird, whose population in Washington has declined 44 percent since 2001. DNR manages 213,000 acres of land in western Washington, where mature and old-growth coastal forests provide the Murrelet’s preferred nesting trees. These forests are public lands and you have a voice in how they are managed.

Many people submitted comments on the previous draft of the Environmental Impact Statement in early 2017. Now we are close to the end of a 60-day public comment period.

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition’s goal is to guide DNR to select an alternative that makes a significant contribution to the recovery of the endangered Murrelet. (Coalition members are Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Olympic Forest Coalition, Seattle Audubon Society, Washington Environmental Council, and Washington Forest Law Center.)

Below are links to background information and message points for you to consider including in your public comments.

Action you can take

Submit a comment letter urging the DNR and USFWS to do more to protect this endangered seabird and the mature and old-growth forests where it nests. The deadline for comments is Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at 5 p.m. UPDATE: The deadline for comments has been extended to Thursday, Dec. 6, 5 p.m. Your comments will be received by both DNR and USFWS.

Submit your comments via the official comment portal: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MMLTCSRDEIS

Or mail your written comments to: SEPA Center, PO Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015

For more information

Washington Environmental Council two-pager: https://wecprotects.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Marbled-Murrelet-One-Pager-V2-2018.pdf

WEC webpage with links: https://wecprotects.org/marbled-murrelet

Message points suggested by the Marbled Murrelet Coalition

DNR’s preferred alternative (Alternative H) doesn’t do enough to support Murrelet recovery primarily because it permits the harvest of too much of our mature and old forests over the next 50 years and does not conserve enough habitat as mitigation.

• Applying the most recent data available, DNR must protect all occupied sites, increase existing interior forest habitat, and establish buffers that will protect vulnerable Murrelet chicks from predators.

• No Long-Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS) should include a net loss of habitat. In the North Puget region, Alternative H anticipates a net loss of more than 1,000 acres after 50 years. The LTCS should include a net increase in habitat for Murrelets across our landscape

• The LTCS should include more and larger Murrelet-specific conservation areas to broaden the geographic distribution of Murrelets in western Washington. Isolated conservation areas create and exacerbate Murrelet population gaps that hinder the species’ survival and recovery.

• The LTCS should lead to more Murrelets across more of our landscape, not fewer Murrelets in smaller forest patches. Broader geographic distribution helps reduce the risk that major human or natural disturbances (logging, roadbuilding, wildfire, increased nest predation) will wipe out significant portions of the Murrelet population.

• The plan must look to the future and protect Murrelets from natural disturbances. DNR should more thoroughly evaluate the potential impacts of tree mortality, wildfire, windthrow, and our warming climate. Habitat loss and degradation from such disturbances should be accurately calculated and properly mitigated.

• The LTCS should also better protect Murrelets from the impacts of human-caused disturbance, especially in areas where Murrelets are known to nest (occupied sites), the forest buffers around those sites, and the “special habitat areas.” Disturbance such as road construction and the use of heavy equipment may result in “take” of Murrelets that is not properly mitigated.

• A meaningful Long-Term Conservation Strategy must set aside enough current and future old forest to not only offset the habitat the DNR plans to log but also to improve forest habitat conditions for the Murrelet, without putting the existing population at further risk. The Long-Term Conservation Strategy must truly support real conservation for the Murrelets for the long-term.

 

Ed Swan revives Washington Birds journal

Ed Swan, a long-time Vashon birder and author of Birds of Vashon Island, recently announced that Washington Birds, the journal of the Washington Ornithological Society, is back after a long hiatus. Ed is the new editor of the journal, which is available for reading online at the WOS website.

Several members of the Vashon birding community contributed to the new edition of the journal. An article by Gary Shugart leads the General Interest section. Ed and Jim McCoy co-wrote a species account for the Northern Wheatear that discusses the Wheatear that visited Vashon several years ago. Ed said that Sue Trevathan’s work is spread invisibly throughout the journal, as she edited and reviewed a number of articles.

For cost reasons, the journal is now available free only online. If enough people express interest in a hard copy, a short run will be printed and sold at a price to be determined by the amount of orders. Email the editor at wabirds@wos.org if you wish to purchase a hard copy of the journal.

Landscaping with native plants

Come to our program on Landscaping with Native Plants, Thursday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m. at the Land Trust. Moderated by Land Trust Director Tom Dean, a panel of experts will talk about how to plan, plant and maintain native plant landscaping. Bring your questions!

Speakers are Melissa Schafer, Schafer Specialty Landscape and Design; John Brown, Judd Creek Nursery; and Scott Anderson, Master Gardener.

Photo of Cedar Waxwing eating chokecherry berry by David Waterworth
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