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President’s Notes

President’s Notes – March – April, 2018
by Bob Phreaner

Kudos to Christina Heliker and the other photographers for presenting the annual OPAS members picture show. We had an entertaining and informative evening in spite of an afternoon snowstorm that reduced attendance.

Let’s look forward to Spring. Around here, Spring means the Olympic Peninsula BirdFest which will be held April 10th through 17th this year. Beginning with a San Juan Island Cruise and culminating with a Neah Bay trip, it is a week packed with birding adventures!

The BirdFest banquet will be held April 14th in the beautiful JST Red Cedar Hall and be catered by Kokopelli Grill. Our BirdFest banquet speaker, Claudio Vidal, is coming all the way from Punta Arenas, Chile to inspire, enlighten and entertain us with his photos and knowledge of birds and mammals of Patagonia and Chile. Claudio is an internationally recognized birder, naturalist, author and photographer. My wife and I had the good fortune to have Claudio as a guide in Patagonia (2015) and Chiloe Island (2016), and I know you will enjoy his company as much as we did.

I was most impressed with Claudio’s advocacy for conservation and ecotourism in Chile. You may have heard that Chile recently added 10 million acres of land to their national park system. Chile is finding that for every dollar they spend in national parks, they receive ten back, which is more of a return than even copper extraction. (“The Guardian”, 18 March, 2017). Like Chile, Clallam County could benefit economically and environmentally from increased ecotourism. Birding is arguably the fastest growing hobby in the US and could augment the local extractive industries of the past. We need to promote ecotourism in Clallam County and our BirdFest is a great start. With the coming flock of birding enthusiasts, we could soon need a Boekelheide and Van Horn publication “Birds of the Blue Hole”!

In other news, the OPAS Board recently voted unanimously to update our tagline and Mission Statement. You will soon begin seeing the tagline “Volunteers, educators and stewards for birds and habitat conservation” on communications. It was decided “The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society promotes birding and habitat conservation through science-based education, advocacy, and stewardship. We are a volunteer chapter of the National Audubon Society and founding partner and supporter of the Dungeness River Audubon Center” better reflected our mission in 2018.

I will close by reminding everyone that Earth Day is April 22, and while other countries like Chile, China and Papua New Guinea are increasing their conserved lands, the US is decreasing them. Critical Federal agencies are inexplicably under assault by decreased budgets and loss of personnel. If you are concerned that nationally laws such as the century old Migratory Bird Treaty Act is under assault, you can “think globally and act locally” by joining the OPAS Conservation Committee and participating in our various citizen science projects.

Let’s make Clallam County a national and international birding destination!

From Harlequin Happenings, March – April, 2018