Articles

From Our President: Thank You, Herb Wisner

Herb Wisner has volunteered and been on the Board of Lane County Audubon for decades. He maintains his Board position, but two years ago he asked to give up the Program Chair. It took some time to find a new volunteer, and we did the job by committee for the last year. Herb still helps find speakers, and his efforts and methods to find new program material reflect his eclectic interests. I have seen Herb working the crowd at concerts and birthday parties to see if a prospective speaker could fit into the program schedule. His untiring efforts on behalf of Audubon span his lifetime.

Herb’s father and uncle were naturalists and fostered his interest in the study of nature while he was growing up in New York State. Birds were a big passion for Herb. As a young man he worked at the National Audubon Hog Island Nature Camp in Maine. Herb and Ruth came to Eugene in 1966, and Herb was a UO biology lecturer for much of his career.

Conservation Column: Public Lands Belong to Everyone

malheur nwrI write this at the end of January when the volatile situation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is just winding down. I feel sorrow that the illegal actions of the occupiers led to a life lost. I feel optimistic that this land which belongs to the public will once again be available for all to enjoy. I feel grateful that the people of Harney County will be free from the distress caused by the occupation and will again be able to interact with their many supporters as people flock to the refuge this spring. I feel comforted that the skies and waterways around the refuge will soon be filled with the graceful swoop of thousands of migratory birds despite the many (often foolish) activities of us human animals.

I cringed when I heard this fringe group say they were going to “take back” the land for the people, because it turns out that the people already have it. Each year, the refuge is visited and enjoyed by thousands who bring tourist dollars into the area. Management at the refuge is based on a plan resulting from the collaboration of members of the native Paiute tribe, ranchers and other community members, government workers, and scientists, among others. Some of the restoration projects are lauded for their potential to not only improve habitat, but also support the local community.

Conservation Column: Oregon Audubon Council Establishes Goals

The Oregon Audubon Council (OAC) met in Sutherlin, Oregon, on November 7. In attendance were representatives from eight chapters around the state as well as regional representatives of National Audubon. The goals of the OAC meetings are to bring together state chapter members, discuss conservation issues of concern, and determine how we can best help make a difference. Although each chapter focuses on concerns as they come up throughout the year, conference participants identified priority issues that would benefit from a coordinated effort by multiple chapters. We’ve addressed many of these issues previously. The issues and our goals are outlined below. (For more information, please contact dschlenoff@msn.com).

Wetlands issues

  •  Klamath National Wildlife Refuges: Ensure that these important wildlife refuges on the Pacific Flyway receive adequate water in both the short and long term.
  •  Lake Abert (Oregon’s only saltwater lake, an important stopover for migratory birds and part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network): Engage with conservation partners to help determine the reasons the lake dried out and explore opportunities to restore it.

Conservation Column November 2015: Under the Umbrella

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


With the arrival of fall, I’m thinking about raincoats and umbrellas and walking in the rain under the canopy of the verdant Northwest forests. Conservationists too are often thinking about umbrellas. 

They are understandably concerned about getting the most coverage for their efforts. One way to do this is to identify ecosystems in need of protection and then target large regions, so that all the inhabitants of a region are sheltered under the umbrella of the conservation plan. Another strategy is to identify an umbrella species and put in place protections that would benefit not just that threatened species, but also other species that co-occur with it. Given the common but unfortunate short-term approach to economic gain, the political landscape, and the competing uses for land, this umbrella approach can be an efficient strategy for protecting the most species possible with limited resources.

Vaux’s Swift Migration Is Unusual This Year

LCAS hosted two Swift Events this fall, as usual. What was unusual about the events was that we saw virtually NO Vaux’s Swifts. During the first evening, September 11, we saw three swifts fly over the Agate Hall chimney. No swifts have been seen at the chimney since.

Typically the peak of migration is mid-September to early October. This year, there were reports of 1,820 swifts entering the chimney on August 28, and 774 the following week. The firefighters at the adjacent fire station told us that on September 4 they observed thousands filling the sky.

Conservation Column Oct 2015: Environmental Issues Update

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


Members of Lane County Audubon Society care about birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. We strive to keep up with environmental issues and take action when possible to promote conservation and enjoyment of wild places. We submit comments on environmental impact statements and management proposals. We write letters or sign on to letters with other organizations concerning projects and proposed legislation. In this month’s column, I’d like to update you on some of the issues we’ve taken action on.

Conservation Column Sep 2015: New Rules Adopted to Protect Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


The Greater Sage-Grouse has been a subject of intense debate in Salem during the last few months. On July 27 of this year, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) and the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted new, more restrictive rules to mitigate impacts by solar, wind, and mining projects in the sage-grouse habitat of Oregon. The new rules are an attempt by the state to head off a possible endangered species listing for the bird by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The listing, scheduled to be decided in September, would impose new regulations in the 11 states that contain Greater Sage-Grouse habitat. As one of these states, Oregon would face new federal regulations on development and ranching, particularly in central and eastern Oregon where 90% of the Oregon sage-grouse population resides.

Conservation Column Jul-Aug 2015: BLM Needs Your Comments on Resource Management Plan

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


UPDATE: The BLM has extended the comment period for the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement until August 21, 2015.

While hiking on a shaded trail next to a burbling creek, you reach for your guidebook to identify a striking wildflower.... To find the diameter of an immense old-growth tree, you and your companions encircle it, stretch your arms wide, and reach for one another’s hands.... When a flash of color catches your eye or a warbling note touches your ear, you reach for your binoculars, asking, “What kind of bird was that?” Have you ever done these things? Do you want people to be able to have these kinds of experiences in the future? If so, then reach for your keyboard, write your comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft resource management plan, and email them to the BLM.

Conservation Column May 2015: It’s Time to Invest in the Future of the Earth

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


A recent article in Current Biology (Conde et al., 2015) examined the costs of preventing the extinction of about 900 vertebrate species (and their habitats) listed by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). They calculated the costs for conservation in the animal’s natural habitats as well as for maintaining insurance populations in zoos. The total was about $1.1 billion, with an average cost per species of $1.3 million. Another report (McCarthy et al., 2012) concluded that about $1 billion per year for a decade would reduce the extinction risk for all globally threatened bird species, and $4 billion per year for a decade would downlist all threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. A total of $76 billion per year for a decade would establish and protect habitats and ecosystems globally.

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