Eagle Festival takes flight Friday and Saturday

By Gale Fiege, The Herald

Winter is bald eagle time along the Stillaguamish River.

The return of our national bird is celebrated annually by the city of Arlington with the Arlington-Stillaguamish Eagle Festival.

This year’s event on Friday and Saturday includes walks along the river, fish printing, an obstacle course, crafts and a visit from Predators Of The Heart Wild Animal Show.

Jim Jacobson of Calvary Arlington, the church sponsoring the animal show, said the animals include reptiles, a skunk, a porcupine, birds of prey, a wolf and a mountain lion.

“The Eagle Festival is a great family event,” Jacobson said. “Last year we drew a huge crowd for Predators.”

This wild animal encounter is educational and entertaining and is scheduled twice on Saturday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., at Eagle Creek Elementary, 1216 E. Fifth St. in Arlington.

The seventh annual festival also includes:

Eagle watching expedition at 9 a.m. Saturday from Haller Park, 1100 West Ave. The city’s natural resource manager Bill Blake will lead a short walk through Arlington’s innovative Stormwater Wetland Park and down the Eagle Trail along the Stillaguamish River. Blake plans to describe how the wetland benefits the river and will help find eagles in the cottonwood trees.

Eagles at the estuary from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Wildlife biologists will offer tours at the Nature Conservancy’s property on Port Susan, at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River. People can look through binoculars and a spotting scope to get a close up look at the eagles. To get there from Arlington, take Highway 530 west through Silvana. Turn left on Norman Road, cross over Marine Drive and follow out to the end of Boe Road.

For a close-up look at a bald eagle and other raptors, see the Sarvey Wildlife display from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Arlington City Council chambers. Also there, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., nature exhibits will be provided by Western Wildlife Outreach, Sound Salmon Solutions, Pilchuck Audubon Society and Snohomish Conservation District.

A salmon obstacle course for kids to navigate will be set up in Legion Park. Displays of tractors will be in the City Hall parking lot.

Upstairs at City Hall, people can make fish prints and spin the “Salmon Wheel of Fortune” at the Stillaguamish Salmon Stop, presented by the Stillaguamish Tribe Natural Resources Department.

Hands-on craft projects for kids are made available by Arlington Arts Council’s Youth Engaged in Art Committee from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Arlington United Church, 101 E. Fourth St. The church also plans a soup and bake sale lunch.

The Arlington Arts Council offers a show of Northwest flora and fauna depicted by local artists. The show opening — with hors d’oeuvres, wine and a concert featuring bird-related compositions by the five horns of Brass Menagerie — is 5:30 to 7:30 tonight, Jan. 31, at Magnolia Hall, 102 E. Third St. The art show — “Rock, Paper, Scissors” — continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Entries from the festival photo and haiku poetry contests are to be displayed. Textile are will be displayed in the lower level of Magnolia Hall. See demonstrations of spinning wheels, quilt-making, loop-hooking and a display of dolls by the Dollirious Doll Club. In addition, Marysville Rock and Gem Club will display rocks, gems, and petrified wood. Members of the Gold-N-Gem Prospecting Association will demonstrate gold panning.

Chainsaw carvers will be on hand and working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Legion Park, 102 N. Olympic Ave. Artists from across the Northwest, including well-known carver Jake Lucas, will be carving eagles, bears and many other figures. An auction at 3 p.m. Saturday helps fund the event.

 

 

Endangered Species Act: a 40-year fight to save animals

Photo courtesy Howard Garrett / Orca Network, JuneMembers of L pod, one of the Salish Sea's resident orca pods, heads north up Boundary Pass to Georgia Strait.

Photo courtesy Howard Garrett / Orca Network, June
Members of L pod, one of the Salish Sea’s resident orca pods, heads north up Boundary Pass to Georgia Strait.

By Bill Sheets, The Herald

Forty years after the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, the state and Snohomish County remain squarely on the edge of that preservation frontier.

More than 40 animal species in Washington are listed by the federal government as either endangered or threatened under the law, signed by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 28, 1973. Many others are listed as species of concern.

Among creatures found in waters in and around Snohomish and Island counties, seven species of fish or marine mammals are listed under the act.

Southern resident killer whales and bocaccio rockfish are listed as endangered. Puget Sound chinook salmon, Puget Sound steelhead, bull trout, yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish and Pacific smelt are threatened.

Nationwide, 645 species of animals and 872 plants or trees native to the U.S. are listed as threatened or endangered, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Of the local fish species and orcas, salmon and bull trout were listed in 1999, the killer whales in 2005 and the other fish species in 2010.

Reasons cited for the decline of the fish are many, including pollution, overfishing and loss of habitat. In the case of killer whales, dwindling supply of their diet staple — chinook salmon — is a major contributing factor, officials say.

Supporters claim many success stories for the Endangered Species Act, with bald eagles and peregrine falcons among the more prominent examples.

Gray whales were taken off the list in 1994 and steller sea lions just this year.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, 99 percent of the hundreds of species listed since the Endangered Species Act became law have been prevented from going extinct.

The law protects species by preventing them from being harmed or captured and by regulating human activity in their habitat areas.

Perhaps the best feature of the Endangered Species Act, some say, is that it keeps the species’ problems in the public spotlight.

“It has pulled people together to talk about what to do,” said Daryl Williams, environmental liaison for the Tulalip Tribes.

Recovery for many species, however, is slow and not guaranteed.

“Listing is a way of sort of planning for recovery, if you will,” said Brent Norberg, a marine mammal biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle.

The southern resident orca population, for example, had 88 whales in 2004, the year before it was listed under the ESA. The population now is down to 80, according to the Orca Network, a Whidbey Island-based group that tracks the whales.

“Because they’re so long-lived and their recruitment is so slow and their numbers are so small, it’s going to be quite a lengthy process,” Norberg said.

William Ruckleshaus, the first director of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon in the early 1970s, is 81 and lives in Medina.

The EPA was created and Endangered Species Act was passed after pollution and declines in species had reached alarming levels, Ruckleshaus said. The Cuyahoga River in northeast Ohio, for example, famously caught fire in 1969.

“The public demanded something be done about it and the president responded,” he said.

He said the endangered species law might have overreached.

“We passed laws that promised levels of perfection that probably weren’t possible. It’s hard to do it, to be honest with you,” Ruckleshaus said. The law has been refined over time, he said.

Ruckleshaus works part-time for Madrona Venture Group, a venture capital firm, and has served on the boards of the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

“The motivation behind the ESA couldn’t have been any higher — we want to preserve all living things on Earth. Who’s against that?” Ruckleshaus said.

“I think it’s been very positive overall,” he said. “It’s shown how what we believe to be innocent acts can have devastating effects on species.”

The Endangered Species Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, has issued a report titled “Back from the Brink: Ten Success Stories Celebrating the Endangered Species Act at 40.”

Among those stories is perhaps the most high-profile recovery: the national symbol, the bald eagle.

The eagle’s numbers in the 48 contiguous states declined from roughly 100,000 in the early 19th century to only 487 nesting pairs in 1963, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.

Several measures were taken to help the eagle, beginning with the 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act, which made it illegal to kill an eagle. The pesticide DDT, found to have thinned the eggshells of eagles and other birds, was banned in 1972.

Still, “listing the species as endangered provided the springboard” for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accelerate recovery through captive breeding, law enforcement and nest-site protection, according to the agency’s website

Bald eagles rebounded and they now number about 10,000. The eagles were taken off the list in 2007.

The Endangered Species Act’s effect on salmon is not so clear, the Tulalips say.

Development that destroys habitat is not restricted enough to offset the losses, Williams said.

“We’re still losing habitat faster than we’re gaining it from restoration,” he said.

The problem is inconsistency in rules among various agencies involved in environmental protection, said Terry Williams, fisheries and natural resources commissioner for the tribes.

Also, because of the ESA, some habitat restoration projects have to jump through the same hoops as other construction, causing delays in measures that could help fish, Daryl Williams said.

“I kind of have mixed feelings about it,” he said.

Those restrictions may be a necessary evil, said Norberg, of the fisheries service.

For example, if creosote-soaked logs are being removed from a waterway, if it’s not done properly, it could result in creosote finding its way back into the water, “so it does as much harm as it does good,” he said.

Restrictions also can affect landowners’ use of their property. This not only angers some property owners but can defeat the intent of the law, said Todd Myers, environmental director for the Washington Policy Center, a right-leaning think tank in Seattle.

Because the law governs use of land where a listed species is found, some landowners take steps to eliminate habitat for a species on their property so it won’t be seen there, Myers said.

“You get a regulatory stick that puts landowners at odds with habitat recovery,” he said.

A better way, he said, is to reimburse landowners for measures taken to preserve or promote habitat, he said.

“That at least takes a step toward making a landowner a partner as opposed to an opponent.”

Despite the ESA’s flaws, “it is working well in terms of bringing all the various parties together to talk and to plan accordingly,” Norberg said.

The decline of the salmon might not be reversed without it, Ruckelshaus said.

“It is an extraordinarily complex problem,” he said. “But for the ESA I doubt we would have paid the attention to it we have, and I think that is absolutely necessary for it to recover.”

 

Kewa Pueblo medicine man loses appeal in eagle killing case

Source: Indianz.com

A medicine man from Kewa Pueblo in New Mexico who pleaded guilty for killing a bald eagle and possessing bald eagle parts lost his case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Martin Aguilar admitted that he didn’t obtain a federal permit to take the eagle on the reservation. He also lacked a permit to possess eagle feathers that were found in his home.

Aguilar argued that federal agents entered and searched his home in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 10th Circuit, however, said he allowed them to enter his home voluntarily.

Aguilar also argued that his prosecution under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 10th Circuit, however, said a similar issue was already decided in a case involving a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming.

“We held that the Eagle Protection Act, and its attendant permitting process which allows for the taking of live eagles for religious purposes by members of federally recognized Indian tribes under certain circumstances, was the least restrictive means of furthering compelling governmental interests in protecting eagles and protecting the religion of federally recognized Indian tribes,” the 10th Circuit said in the unpublished opinion, referring to its 2008 decision in US v. Friday.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, US v. Aguilar.