Newsletters – from the old website (some of the older ones are not available as PDFs):
- SEPTEMBER General Membership Meeting
- From the President
- Birdathon 2005 Update
- From the Editor
- Will Developers Take the Initiative to Destroy Our Land Use Laws?
- Edward Abbey
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
- George Garlick
SEPTEMBER General Membership Meeting
A professional writer for ten years, Frances Wood has published over 100 articles on birds and nature and continues to publish a monthly column on birdwatching for local newspapers. She has written three books. Brushed by Feathers: A Year of Birdwatching in the West, was recently published by Fulcrum Publishing.
Before becoming a writer and editor, Frances taught for many years. She earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in art and teaching. Frances has painted and illustrated birds and flowers for sale and publication. She completed the Seattle Audubons Master Birder class in 1995 and served as editor of Seattle Audubons Earthcare Northwest for five years.
During four recent winters, she has worked with the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation in Mexico and Central America, teaching an extensive birdwatching curriculum to local nature guides. The work with RARE has taken her to the Mexican states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, and Baja California Sur, and into Guatemala and Honduras. She has coordinated bird monitoring projects in Mexico, as well as a Breeding Bird Survey for Island County where she lives. She is active in the Whidbey Island Audubon Society and lives on Whidbey Island with her husband.
Join us for an entertaining evening and remember that meetings of the North Cascades Audubon Society are always FREE and open to the public.
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From the President
As I headed out on the birding trail this summer, I traveled buoyed by the knowledge that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker still existed in our world. Even though I passed close to the area of its rediscovery, I never seriously entertained the idea of going to look for it. All difficulty aside, I certainly did not want to cause any additional stress on the remnant population of the amazing Lazarus bird. It was inspiration enough to know that it was there.
In the mid-1950s, scientists drew the conclusion that the Ivory-bill was extinct. The last known population had been wiped out in 1944 by the destruction of its Louisiana habitat. There had been several reported sightings in Florida in the early part of the decade, but those were unsubstantiated. As a budding naturalist, I read about the loss of the Ivory-bill in Audubon magazine and looked at John James Audubons rendering of these magnificent birds. The concept of their extinction, the utter irrevocability of it, was a challenging concept to absorb. I found it nearly impossible to accept that we could have let this happen. From the loss of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker came inspiration to not only enjoy nature but to work for its protection.
In 1932, National Audubon (Audubon) President Gilbert Pearson found Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the Singer Tract, an 80,000 acre river bottom forest in northeastern Louisiana, owned by the Singer Sewing Machine Company. From 1935 through 1941, Cornell University researchers studied the birds, filmed them, and recorded their calls. But in 1937, the Singer Company sold the timber rights on the property to the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company. A year later, logging commenced.
For years, efforts were made by Audubon and the state of Louisiana to purchase the land. A bill was unsuccessfully introduced in Congress to create a national park. Finally, a meeting took place in Chicago in 1943. Representatives of Audubon, the state of Louisiana, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) met with James Griswold, the chairman of the board of Chicago Mill and Lumber in an attempt to purchase the remaining timber. As related in Christopher Cokinos fine book, Hope is the Thing with Feathers, Griswold told the group, We are just money grubbers. We are not concerned, as are you folks, with ethical consideration. The habitat of the last known Ivory-billed Woodpecker was eliminated.
Thirty-five years later, in east central Arkansas, a group of hunters and fishermen with assistance from the Environmental Defense Fund, filed a suit to stop the federal government from channeling the Cache River. In 1985, 380 acres of Cache River bottomland hardwood forest were purchased by the Nature Conservancy and given to the USFWS as the nucleus of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.
Through the work of the Nature Conservancy, 140,000 more refuge acres have since been added. In 2004, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was rediscovered living in this Cache River NWR. Again, the story of the Ivory-bill and its reemergence among the living gives us the inspiration to persevere in our efforts to protect our natural heritage. And I can dream that some day it might be possible to experience the bird in real life.
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Birdathon 2005 Update
This years NCAS Birdathon has its usual underwhelming turnout of birdwatchers/bird counters/fundraisers, and those who participanted are to be congratulated for their efforts in the field but also in their efforts to raise funds for the many programs that NCAS provides for its membership throughout the year. Begin now, to consider participating with a team of your own next year.
The following report comes from the winning team, Team Timberdoodle, which unseated Team Killdeer from its long reign as NCAS champs. Congrats to the doodles.
After last years total of 98 (its always frustrating to fall just short of a nice, round milestone number like 100), Paul (Woodcock) and I were determined to do better this time. As before, we limited ourselves geographically to the west side of the Cascades, in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties. But this time, we invested more forethought in our strategy.
First of all, we decided to conduct our birdathon a few weeks earlier than in 2004, hoping that a sacrifice of a few Neotropical migrants might pay off in a greater number of lingering water birds (a group in which we had done poorly before).
Second, we set our 24-hour period from 6 PM to 6 PM, allowing us to whiz through the northern Whatcom County spots on the first evening (ending at dusk in Ferndale), and thus save on driving time the following day. Then, we chose a route that emphasized rewarding spots, added a few that had been missed before, and eliminated some that were not worth repeating. Pauls invaluable special contribution was to study his birdsong tapes extensively, which definitely paid off!
Our route was extensive and exhaustive. The countdown began at 6 PM on May 4, at the Blaine Marine Park, with Glaucous-winged Gull and crow spp. (as usual), and several other shorebirds and water birds. Next, the back end of Drayton Harbor yielded a nice cluster of Whimbrels and Marbled Godwits. We raced through the Semiahmoo Spit, around Birch Bay, through Birch Bay State Park, and barely reached Lake Terrell by dusk. A Barn Owl at a reliable Ferndale roost which Paul knew about brought our total to 51 before we called it a night.
Our route the next day really earned the suffix, thon, as we birded our way through three counties. We began at dawn on the boardwalk at Tennant Lake (American Bittern, Green Heron, Wood Duck, etc.); moved onto the Lummi Flats (Wilsons Snipes near the aquaculture dike); circled the Lummi Peninsula shoreline (large rafts of both Common and Red-breasted Mergansers); and hit Bellingham for coffee at 9:30 AM.
Then it was on into the Chuckanut region, where we found many of our neotropicals and other woodland birds. From there, we dropped onto the Samish Flats (Blue-winged Teal were nice), before shooting out to Anacortes. The ferry terminal yielded its reliable nesting Purple Martins, and Washington Park generously provided our four alcid species for the day (as well as our only Red Crossbill). By the time we hit Rosario Beach at 4 PM (Black Oystercatcher), our list seemed to have bogged down in the 90s, and when I fell off a beach log and injured myself rather badly, we wondered if we would indeed reach our goal.
We neednt have worried. As we hurried south on route 20 down Whidbey Island, the birds kept trickling in. A flicker crossing the road became bird #100, (how had we missed that one until now?), and each roadside pond, etc., seemed to have a duck or other bird that had eluded us thus far. We closed with an exciting 15 minutes at the lagoon behind the Keystone ferry, with a final trio: Caspian Tern, Black-bellied Plover, and Long-billed Dowitcher.
Better planning, combined with a fair measure of luck, rewarded us with a final tally of 108 this year, despite thick fog for the first half of the day and time lost due to injury. We did indeed drop five Neotropicals from the previous year, but gained 15 species for a net gain of ten.
An analysis of reasonably expected species shows that, given a great deal of luck, preparation, local knowledge, and late-lingering winter birds combined with a strong, early migration, this route could produce over 150 species. Paul and I certainly hope to challenge ourselves again next year and do even better. And we invite anyone who has not experienced the exhilaration of a birdathon before to join in. The money raised is for a good cause and it is certainly one of the most exciting events in the birders year.
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From the Editor
Many are the signs that September is upon us and fall is on the way. From the distinctive and raucous mating calls of those highly annoying and utterly useless gasoline-powered leaf blowers to earlier sunsets and the noticeable shift in the temperatures, it appears that we might have escaped the heat for one more year! I dont know about the rest of you, but I do NOT live here for the heat. I begin to shrivel when the temperature approaches the 80° mark. Ive found strength to get through the hotter days by repeating my summer mantra, October, October, October......It seems to work for me, so if you suffer from the heat the way I do, try it!
September is the beginning of another Audubon year and the NCAS Board of Directors (BOD) is already busy planning a slate of activities for your enjoyment, including interesting programs and field trips; and weve even begun to prepare for the annual Christmas Potluck....in August, no less!
The BOD stays busy throughout the year, as evidenced by the new poop-bag dispenser that we installed at Scudder Pond in August. Pet waste is a problem throughout the city and its extremely important that dog owners pick up what their animals leave behind. If you own a pet, be a responsible pet owner. Its just that simple.
On a slightly different note, at the May general membership meeting, new officers were elected to maneuver our ship through the next year. Here are your NCAS officers for 2005-2006:
The BOD has also added new members to its roster. Chris Smith has taken over as the Wildlife Chair of the Conservation Committee; Ann Haslam is our new Membership Chair; and Lois Garlick, one of the founders of the chapter, has returned to lend her experienced hand as a Board Member at Large. The board welcomes the new members as we take on new challenges and continue our efforts to tackle a few of the old ones.
The BOD will reach out to the membership and the general public to work toward the goals of this organization and address concerns you might have on any situation or problem that you have as relates to those goals. Contact information is available for all officers and board members on page 2 of this newsletter, as well as on the chapters award-winning website at www.northcascadesaudubon.org.
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Will Developers Take the Initiative to Destroy Our Land Use Laws?
The November 2004 election saw voters in Oregon pass a public initiative that threatens to undermine their preservation laws. Ballot Measure 37, which passed in every Oregon county but one, requires government to compensate property owners who can show that government regulations prohibited their use of their land. Governments are forced to either pay landowners or exempt them from regulations.
Oregon is already facing over 1,000 claims filed under Measure 37, and while still in the early days of this law, egregious claims are already being approved by county government. Claims have been filed to build casinos and golf courses in the middle of agricultural lands, and in April a claim was approved that clears 1 million square feet of farm land for commercial development.
The bad news is that it seems inevitable that a similar initiative will be introduced in Washington in 2006. The media has reported that the Washington State Farm Bureau has given its staff the go ahead to work on drafting a developers initiative, also known as a takings initiative, and Tim Eyman has been speaking in support of such a campaign across the state.
The target for such an initiative would be regulations such as the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), and other ordinances that protect our precious water and wildlife resources for us, and for succeeding generations. Our county is currently in the process of finalizing updates to the CAO and the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Any gains made there could be nullified by the initiative process.
The good news is that a recent poll suggests that there is no groundswell of support for such an initiative here.
According to a poll conducted in January by Evans McDonough, only 43 percent of Washington voters support an initiative similar to Measure 37 in Oregon after hearing a simple and objective explanation of what the measure would do. Support for the measure decreases by a third after hearing pro and con arguments. Even more importantly, the poll found that despite recent media coverage, there isnt a revolution brewing. Seventy-one percent of Washington voters do not believe that government is unfairly restricting the use of their property.
And theres more good news a similar measure was defeated in Washington in 1995. The No on Referendum 48 campaign repealed a law passed by Washingtons legislature that required government compensation for any regulation that limited property use. The vote was 59 percent to 41 percent to repeal the law.
It wont be an easy fight, and well need your help. But Washingtonians have a history of saying NO to this over-reaching idea, and well say NO to it again. Stay tuned for more information on this important issue.
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A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
Editors note: I always have one of Edward Abbeys books close at hand, just to thumb through at random and give my brain a jump start, if you will. Id like to take this opportunity to share a few excerpts from one of his shorter works. Please peruse and cogitate at will.
Ed Abbey was an honest writer; a naturalist who actually lived in and with nature; a gifted storyteller whose novels were tales spun like they must have been around campfires through time immemorial raucous, poignant, flowing, beautiful things that grew from the land and people they were about.
What follows are a few of Eds thoughts on a variety of subjects that are near, and possibly dear, to us all.
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
Democracy rule by the people we should try it sometime in America.
The tragedy of modern war is not so much that young men die but that they die fighting each other, instead of their real enemies back home in their capitals.
As war and government prove, insanity is the most contagious of diseases.
I come more and more to the conclusion that wilderness, in America or anywhere else, is the only thing left that is worth saving.
The developers and entrepreneurs must somehow be taught a new vocabulary of values.
God bless America. Lets save some of it.
It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.
Mans deliberate destruction of his own habitat planet Earth could serve as a mighty theme for a mighty book worthy of a modern Melville or Tolstoy. But our best fictioneers confine themselves to domestic drama soap opera with literary trimmings.
Concrete is heavy; iron is hard; but the grass will prevail. Money, et cetera
The most common form of terrorism in the USA is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws.
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
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Websters Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language defines the word hero as a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
There might well be a picture of George Garlick to accompany this entry, because George was the embodiment of a hero, but youd never have known it. Unlike so-called heroes who tend to make a lot of noise to be noticed, George was quiet in his heroism. He did for others just for the joy of doing and helping; he taught without placing demands on his students; and he led an exemplary life in a time when true heroes seem to be fewer and farther between.
I spent a lot less time with George than most, but fondly recall those times that I did. My only regret is that I wasnt able to spend more time with him.
The NCAS Board of Directors would like to offer its undying gratitude to George Garlick and honor him with these tribute pages. The following sentiments reflect but a small part of George Garlicks heroic life.
....I will think of George.
George worked with gentleness and intelligence and persistence to make the very best bird boxes and bat boxes. He was forever thinking of the future inhabitants how to make them comfortable, warm and dry, safe from all predators. When I look into the eyes of a beautiful Wood Duck hen, dark eye boldly outlined in white, as she sits steadfastly on her clutch of precious eggs, I will think of George.
When I open the clever side opening door that George designed and come face-to-face with the wide-eyed Saw-whet Owl and her batch of downy owlets, I will think of George. When I stand in the deepening evening light with the frog chorus beginning and watch bats zip out from the bottom of Georges pole-mounted bat boxes, I will think of him.
He gave of himself to the natural world, using his creative inventiveness and woodworking skills and deep empathy. I will care for this inheritance that George has left and for the wondrous creatures that inhabit them for a brief moment in time. And he will live on.
He will be missed.
George Garlick did a lot for nature. I first knew him in the mid-1980s as one of the few Audubon members who worked on a Mountain Bluebird project on the west flank of the Cascades. George made the boxes and helped monitor them.
Bluebirds used the boxes and young birds hatched, but the project was discontinued when, year after year, no young survived. Few insects were available that early in the year and the young starved.
George and Lois lived near Chuckanut Bay and he was custodian of the Chuckanut Island Preserve when a pair of Bald Eagles nested there. They had a nest tree and a prey tree where they dismembered the prey before feeding their young. George gathered and identified the bones. Most of the bones were of birds, largely ducks and grebes. There were a few fish bones. That dispelled the notion held by many people that Bald Eagles are scavengers of living or dead fish.
Later, he became locally renowned as a builder of bird and bat boxes. He would persist in getting free cedar boards for his projects. He worked extensively with Dr. Patricia Otto, who is our local bat expert. He built not only conventional bat boxes, but together, they used creative ideas to build new and better boxes.
He also told the story of a woman who wanted a bird box built by the local expert, but she didnt want a hole for birds to enter. He refused. He will be missed.
He was careful and he did good work
I was not so fortunate to know George for long I actually met him only in 2001 after I had moved back to town from the Seattle area. Hearing him and Lois telling stories of hikes they had been on, or of their adventures on Chuckanut Island, made me wish I had known them much earlier in my own life. I will leave the stories of their place and separate adventures for others to tell.
I will always remember Georges stories of making the bathymetric map of Lake Whatcom. In the 1960s George was a technician in the Biology Department at WWU, working with then-professor Charles Flora. As George related it to me, the city had been using the lake for its water source since at least the turn of the century, but no one knew what the basin of the lake looked like. Additionally, in 1961, the city began a partial diversion of the flow of the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River into the lake.
Simple, but necessary information, such as the volume of water contained in the lake, was not available. The lake was known to be deep, but no one knew how deep. George told me that some people thought there might be an underground connection between Lakes Whatcom and Samish.
Nowadays, making such a map would be a simple matter, but 1960s technology was cruder than todays. To make the map, George and an assistant ran transects across the lake in a boat with an early model depth sounder. In order for this to work, a constant speed and straight track must be maintained from one side of the lake to the other believe me, this is not a simple feat. Just keeping a straight track by eyeball which was all they had to go on seems almost impossible to me now. The depth sounding transects were then assembled into a 3-dimensional contour map.
The map they made way back then was the only map of the bottom of the lake for over 30 years. The map that was recently made in 2002 shows no remarkable differences from that made 35 years earlier. I think this is a tribute to one aspect of George which shows up in his bird houses and other projects: he was careful and did good work.
...his knowledge, wisdom, and love of the land.
It was my privilege to meet George in the 1970s as we worked together on the board of NCAS. George was a stalwart supporter of the chapter throughout its 35-year history. In fact, George and his wife, Lois, were present at the meeting of Skagit and Whatcom Audubon members called by Hazel Wolf to Seattle in 1970 to organize our chapter.
Over the years, George held numerous positions with NCAS. The chapters first Conservation Chair, selected in 1972, was George Garlick. He went on to become chairman of the Birdhouse Committee in 1978 and held that position until 1983, when he assisted Lois with her work running the chapters bird clinic through most of the 80s and 90s. Besides working with the chapter on such projects as Bald Eagle censuses, mountain goat counts, and trail maintenance, George was the Nature Conservancys steward for Chuckanut Island for many years. Some of you might remember that George was elected president of the chapter in 1974 but he stepped down after a short time. In his great humility, George decided that he was more comfortable working behind the scenes.
George, along with Dan Beighle and George Gleason, began the project of building and erecting bluebird houses in the Mt. Baker National Forest in 1974. Hundreds of houses, many built in the Garlicks home workshop, were erected in clearings and clear cuts in such places as Canyon, Kidney, Wells, and Glacier Creeks and Daley Prairie. My best memories of George and doing Audubon work came from taking part in the Bird House Committee work parties. These outings were definitely hard work but they were also parties. Whether we were erecting houses or checking their contents, it was often difficult but, even though I was over 30 years his junior, it was hard to keep up with George. After hours of climbing through the slash in clear cuts, we were usually tired and wet from the heat or the rain. Almost always, a fire was built; coffee and stories were shared. This was Georges environment and where I came to know his quiet humor, his knowledge, wisdom, and love for the land.
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