Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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 if you’re interested in taking part in the count.

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

We endorse Initiative 1631

The Vashon-Maury Island Audubon board unanimously endorsed Initiative 1631 at our June meeting.

If approved by voters, I-1631 will reduce Washington’s carbon pollution by 50 million metric tons by 2050.

In addition, $250 million annually will be invested in projects to increase the resilience of our waters and forests to the impacts of climate change. This includes restoring and protecting estuaries, fisheries and marine shoreline habitats vital for birds to survive. It also includes programs to improve forest health and reduce vulnerability to changes in hydrology, insect infestation, wildfires, and drought. This is critical support that will protect important bird habitats now and in the future.

Why is I-1631 important for birds?

The National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change Report details how rising temperatures influence the range of 588 North American bird species. The report concludes that 314 of those are threatened or endangered by climate change.

In Washington, 189 species of birds are at risk. During the past 50 years, more than 60 percent of wintering North American bird species have shifted their winter ranges northward. Soon, they may have nowhere left to go. To protect birds in a changing climate, we must reduce the carbon emissions responsible for climate change.

Why an initiative?

Earlier this year, Governor Inslee proposed a carbon fee system. The proposal passed out of committee in the Senate as SB 6203, but failed to pass the Legislature. Other climate-related bills also died in the Legislature.

After the legislative session ended, conservation advocates filed I-1631. The signature  gathering effort was successful, and the measure will appear on the November ballot.

More information about the initiative

A news story from the Weekly explains key points about I-1631.

Barn Swallows photo by Jim Diers



June program: Merlins of the Pacific Northwest

Coastal Forest Merlins of the Pacific Northwest

Thursday June 7, 7 p.m.      Free – Open to the public

For thousands of years, Merlins have lived in temperate rainforests of the
Pacific Northwest almost unnoticed, “phantoms among the cedars.”

Over the past three decades, wildlife biologist David Drummond has been studying and documenting the breeding habitats, prey and behavioral ecology of this versatile falcon. Join David for an evening of discovery in the Merlin’s little-known realm, from Washington’s and British Columbia’s ancient forests to urban environs of our backyards.

David has studied coastal forest Merlins in the field since 1983. In 2003 he launched the Coastal Forest Merlin Project. “Through the metaphoric Merlin’s eye we can see our shared ecology and survival needs,” David says.