President's November 2013 Message
By Phil Wright
I attended my first Audubon Conference of Washington (ACOW) on October 4 and 5 in Bellevue. Twenty-one of the twenty-five Washington Chapters were represented and more than eighty people attended. Audubon Washington organized the conference, along with Eastside Audubon, which hosted the conference. Audubon Washington, which nearly shut down during the recession, has been reconstituted and has a staff of five. They operate out of the Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center on Lake Washington in south Seattle.
The National Audubon Society’s 2013 Conference in July was held for the first time in many years in Washington State in Skamania on the Columbia River. A number of the participants at ACOW reported that it was a very successful event.
The ACOW Conference started Friday night with a meeting of the Washington State Audubon Conservation Committee, comprised of the Conservation Chairs from each chapter. Tim Manns, our Conservation Chair and Immediate Past-President, is our representative. Steve Aslanian, a former President of Skagit Audubon, also serves on the Committee in his capacity as a member of the smaller Steering Committee attended this meeting.
The main conference was on Saturday. The keynote talk was by Kathy Dale, Director of Citizen Science for National Audubon, which is becoming an increasingly important source of data for researchers. She talked about several citizen science projects of National Audubon:
* The Christmas Bird Count (CBC), with online data going back to its origin in the early 1900’s is now on-line. This data has been used by more than 350 scientists for research projects.
* The Great Backyard Bird Count started only 16 years ago and is held for 5 five days in February. The data collected is also important for research. 111 countries on all 7 continents participated. 39% of world species were recorded, representing 78% of bird families.
* She also introduced National Audubon’s forthcoming Climate Change Model. This powerful new tool uses over 100 years of CBC data and historic climate data to project the future range of birds under three emission scenarios and time frames. The model will help them predict where habitat will remain stable, and where they can manage to help birds survive eminent climate change threats – considered the greatest limiting factor for bird populations today.
The other main talk was by Trina Bayard, Ph.D., Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Washington.
* The first of two conservation initiatives in progress is the Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Initiative. Christi Norman, who headed up the Washington Birding Trails project, is the Program Director. The program is being developed to slow the decline of sage-brush associated bird species and to provide the foundation for birds and other wildlife to flourish in Washington State’s Columbia plateau and elsewhere.
* The second initiative is called Audubon Washington Coastal Stewardship initiative, Marine Birds and Habitats. This program will be focused in improving forage fish/food supplies through the establishment of ecosystem –based quotas, spawning ground protection and restoration, and reducing CO2 emissions. She reminded us that populations of coastal bird species have declined about 47% since 1979 when data were first gathered.
The conference was a good opportunity for me to meet other chapter leaders and volunteers and to learn of the activities that have been successful for them.
You can contact Phil Wright, President, Skagit Audubon Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-336-8753
Where to View Birds in Skagit County http://fidalgo.net/~audubon/Locate.htm
Great Washington State Birding Trail
The now-completed Great Washington State Birding Trail consists of 7 maps describing and locating good birding spots across Washington State. This 10-year effort, from the first map, the Cascade Loop including numerous sites in Skagit County, to the Puget Loop completed this year, this has been the project of many volunteers ably organized by Christi Norman.
In appreciation for her great contributions to Audubon in Washington, Tahoma Audubon is honoring Christi with its Distinguished Service Award – Community. All the maps are at http://wa.audubon.org/great-washington-state-birding-trail. At this website you can also buy paper copies of each map or an app with them all.
NOTE: Hospitality position still needed
Each year there are a few opportunities for Skagit Audubon members to join the board for one or more years. The list of current board members on page two of this Skagit Flyer shows the range of roles each National Audubon chapter needs to fill. There are many ways to get involved.
If you are interested, please contact any member of the Nomination Committee:
Ivar Dolph: 360-293-5951 , Phil Wright: 360-299-8212 , and Tim Manns: 360-336-8753