The health of the natural environment is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is what all of us, non-humans and humans alike, depend on for our very existence. Unfortunately, it has been politicized, resulting in a critical loss of environmental protection over the past few years.
Last month I finished a couple of books I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to were it not for our ongoing pandemic. The first fiction book I have read in a long time was Richard Powers’ latest monumental novel, The Overstory. As I pondered writing a review, I decided to just include the intro to Alex Preston’s interview with Richard from The Guardian. Then I’d follow up with notes on related material.
“There was something fitting about hearing the news that Richard Powers’ The Overstory had been awarded the (2018) Pulitzer Prize just as Extinction Rebellion activists took to the streets of London. Powers’ richly layered novel engages profoundly with questions of protest and conservation.
Lane County Audubon's first Zoom program meeting was on Tuesday, September 15, at 7:00 pm. You can see the recorded program by clicking on this link:
"Dead Trees: Why We Need Them" with Ken Bevis
Ken is an accomplished natural history educator and wildlife biologist whose entertaining environmental conservation lectures focus primarily on the birds and forests of the Pacific Northwest. His presentation will be about dead trees. Fortunately, he is very humorous and has the ability to make something as seemingly dull as dead trees exciting. He will elaborate on the many creatures that find food and housing there: slugs, bugs, and salamanders for starters. If you have ever wondered how many ways dead trees can be valuable, tune into this program.
Ken Bevis is currently the Stewardship Biologist for the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Small Forest Landowner office. He helps landowners learn how to manage small private forest lands for the benefits to wildlife. For 15 previous years, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Yakama Indian Nation, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He was one of first biologists to look at the Spotted Owl situation in Washington.
I have always been charmed by watching videos of bowerbirds decorating their bowers to attract females. Historically, they have decorated with colorful flowers, leaves, feathers, shells, and berries. But now the display sites contain a preponderance of plastic waste, including bottle caps and straws.
Thank You to Ramiro Aragon for completing a bird survey and list for a property near Cheshire, Oregon. He was helped by John Sullivan on one of the visits. The 219-acre property was designated a perpetual wetland by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the owner requested our help in supplying a bird list. Ramiro did a great job!
Swifts spend all their time in the sky. Common Swifts are the big cousins of our Vaux’s Swifts and are found throughout Europe during breeding season. They fly south to Africa, to equatorial and sub-equatorial regions for the winter. What can their journeys tell us about the future?
If you’d like to know more about these mysterious birds, check out this link: nytimes.com/2020/07/29/magazine/vesper-flights.html
We’ve posted these before, but they are so useful that they bear repeating.
Lane County Audubon Society has joined a diverse group of stakeholders to fight poaching and illegal harm to wildlife in Oregon. This campaign is a collaboration among conservationists, recreationists, hunters, and landowners. We and other wildlife organizations (including Portland Audubon) believe this to be an opportunity to help protect non-game wildlife.
Stakeholder meetings include representatives from the legislature, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Justice, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Hunters Association, and Defenders of Wildlife among others. Recently passed legislation authorized the Oregon Department of Justice, State Police, and Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to work together to fight poaching. New legislation increased fines and restitutions for fish and wildlife crimes. Funding was made available to support the Stop Poaching campaign.
Numerous illegal bird-killing reports over the years have included Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors, swans, crows, and Red-winged Blackbirds.
--by Jim Maloney
This capsule book review concerns a new book by Christopher Ketcham entitled “This Land – How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West.” It’s a non-fiction book set in the West but with a broader scope.
The book concerns the exploitation of Western lands by livestock grazers, loggers, mining and fracking companies, and by the corporations that become rich by enabling them. It is an Ed Abbey-take-no-prisoners indictment of not only Cliven and Amon Bundy, the Mormon/Utah public lands grab, and the ultimate entitlement-demanding cattle grazers, loggers, and fossil fuel exploiters. It also manages to include the collusion, manipulation, control, and corporate direction of so-called “public agencies” like Wildlife Services, the BLM, the Forest Service, and other government “protection” agencies under Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump.
I hope that everybody is safe and well as we deal with this devastating pandemic. Turns out that many of the conservation issues that have been on our radar for years are associated with pandemics. Zoonotic (zōe’nätik) diseases are caused by pathogens that jump from other species to us. They can be particularly problematic because we have no previous immunity.