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.

Forest Management

A record of decision was filed on the Goose Timber Project near McKenzie Bridge. Unfortunately, the decision selected an alternative that allows commercial logging on nearly 2,500 acres of Willamette National Forest. In other forest management news, we await the selection of an alternative on proposed changes for about 2.5 million BLM acres in western Oregon.

 

East Sand Island Cormorants

Many of you are aware of a US Army Corps of Engineers plan to slaughter cormorants in a misguided attempt to help salmon recovery in the Columbia River. The corps has proceeded with its plan to kill nearly 11,000 Double-crested Cormorants and destroy more than 26,000 of their nests on East Sand Island. Several organizations have been calling for a halt to the destruction, especially after evidence emerged recently that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff analysis indicated that this action would not, in fact, help the recovery of federally listed salmon. More information is available at http://audubonportland.org/news/cormorant-update-august12-2015.

 

Wind Turbines and Eagles

Despite the potential benefits of generating energy from wind, wind turbines can cause the death of many birds and bats, especially if sited inappropriately and improperly assessed. The USFWS grants eagle “take” permits to wind energy companies (“take” allows the birds to be harmed or killed) and had recently increased the duration of the permits sixfold (from five to thirty years). Good news on this front—a federal court in California ruled that this increase violates the law by not allowing for assessment of the cumulative harm that could be caused to the eagles, which often collide with wind turbines.

 

Gray Wolf Recovery

Scientific research on wolf population recovery has demonstrated restoration of ecosystems with some benefits extending to songbird populations. Sadly, the removal of the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list has led to the killing of thousands of wolves in states such as Idaho. Wolves continue to be protected in Oregon, but there have been some recent proposals to remove protections and allow wolves to be more easily killed in our state. Numerous people are actively opposing these proposals in the wake of good news on regional wolf recovery: Many ranchers in the northeast section of the state have implemented proactive measures to reduce harm to livestock. New wolf pups have been born in the Cascades, the first in many decades, and for the first time in a century a wolf pack has been observed in California. We hope to continue to get positive news about wildlife population recovery.

 

Bird Collisions with Windows

People in Minnesota continue to request that bird-friendly measures be taken to reduce collisions that will result when the expansive glass Vikings stadium is built on the Mississippi flyway. Although the Vikings organization and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority did not agree to purchase and install bird-safe glass, they say that they will consider working with 3M to find a product they could apply to the glass to reduce collisions.

We are in the midst of fall migration. Enjoy the birds! Do what you can to reduce window and building collisions during this season. Close the curtains or place bird deterrents on the windows. Reduce unnecessary lighting at home and spread the word—educate people at your workplace too. For further tips, see http://www.laneaudubon.org/conservation/issues/bird-window.

 

Threats to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

We continue to fight for legislation that protects birds and other wildlife. Recently the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act have been threatened in Congress. For more information, see http://blog.aba.org/2015/06/what-birders-should-know-about-the-migratory....