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Conservation News

Conservation News – The conservation committee is committed to providing up-to-date conservation news for our members and visitors to our website.


Senator Murray & Representative Kilmer Reintroduce Wild Olympics Bill

On May 9, 2019, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water and salmon streams as well as enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

OPAS is committed to protecting critical bird habitat and protecting the ecological integrity of watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula and strongly supports the Act.  Read more about the announcement.


OPAS Western Bluebird Climate Watch Winter Survey Summary and Reminder of Upcoming Survey for May 15 – June 15, 2019

The colossal Sequim snowstorm managed to wreak havoc with the Climate Watch Survey Period, January 15  through February 15, 2019. Though many people were still shoveling out by the end of the survey period, at least 12 dedicated Climate Watch Volunteers were not dissuaded from collecting data in their survey areas. This year for the first time in our winter count, 14 Western Bluebirds were reported. Read more.

Western Bluebird
Photo by Cindy Fullwiler


Watch this wonderful video by filmmaker John Gussman.

Restoring the Dungeness Estuary

3 Crabs, 5 Salmon, 30 Partners


Olympic Hot Springs Road Long-Term Access/Environmental Assessment

Olympic National Park (ONP) is preparing an Environmental Assessment for Olympic Hot Springs Road (OHSR) long-term access. The road has experienced multiple washouts since the completion of the dam removal project in 2014. The Elwha Valley is one of the most visited areas within ONP and the OHSR provides the only vehicular access into the valley.

The purpose of the project is to rehabilitate the 8.2 mile OHSR (aka Elwha Valley Rd.) within ONP to ensure public and administrative access to visitor use areas within the Elwha Valley.  Read more about the project.

OPAS supports relocating the road, but the one-mile bypass road should be designed and constructed to minimize impacts to both the Elwha and its fisheries. In our comments, we expressed concern about the removal of many of the mature and old-growth trees that cover the reroute. Read our comments.


Read this update on the OPAS Trumpeter-Tundra Swan Study (March 2019)

by Laura Davis and Liam Antrim

By the end of March, the Dungeness Delta will be bidding farewell to the last of our winter-resident Trumpeter Swans, and so we reflect here on the study year in progress. Read more.


Update on the Marbled Murrelet Long Term Conservation Strategy

Chick with fish
Sketch by Paul Harris Jones

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) on eight alternatives for the Long-Term Conservation Strategy of the Marbled Murrelet.

The comment period ended on December 6, 2018. OPAS submitted comments that expressed concerns about DNR’s preferred alternative and the remaining seven alternatives. None of the alternatives presented in the RDEIS do enough to maintain and protect Marbled Murrelets in Washington State. Read our comments.

You can follow the Murrelet Survival Project Facebook page as DNR reviews public comments and develops a final EIS.


2018 Purple Martin Report

By Ken Wiersema

Inland Nest Boxes Photo by Ken Wiersema

Evidence supports that our work to establish a sustainable Purple Martin colony in proximity to the 3 Crabs restoration site is succeeding. This year we repaired and re-marked eighteen nest boxes to install on the 3 Crabs pilings, and another six boxes for the sites on Protection Island NWR. At the end of June, we erected four new boxes next to the tidal lagoons adjacent to the pilings. These boxes were over land rather than over water, as were our boxes on the pilings. We had successful nests in every box but one of the last ones installed.  Read more.


Conservation Award for 2018
by Ken Wiersema
This year our OPAS Conservation Committee recognized Bob Boekelheide for his many years of stellar dedication to the science of birds and bird study within our community. He was presented with a certificate which describes his salient contributions toward supporting the protection and conservation of wildlife habitat and biodiversity on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Specifically noted were his enduring and significant accomplishments in
preparing and leading us toward the use and development of accurate and documented bird population data. Bob’s science leadership as a high school teacher, Director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, and service on regional science advisory councils for both the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve are unsurpassed.
Since 1995, he has compiled our Chapter’s Christmas Bird Counts and Bird-a-thon. He has done breeding bird surveys, seabird studies, analyzed Trumpeter Swan counts, monitored bird population changes resulting from the 3 Crabs restoration, and established the Railroad Bridge Park Wednesday bird walk data base.
Werely on his bird data and analysis to support our policy and advocacy correspondence on regional conservation actions.
Bob generously shares his data, analysis, and knowledge toward enriching the birding enjoyment of our Chapter members and our community. He personifies being a teacher, conservationist, researcher, and scientist–but for us, he’s our gull guy! — Well done and well deserved.


Important Notice! What to do if you encounter aircraft disturbance at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

By FAA regulation, aircraft, including fixed wing, helicopter, drone, powered or unpowered are required to maintain a safe non-disturbance distance from wildlife. Should our members note what they believe is an aircraft disturbing wildlife they should contact:

FAA’s Flight Standards District Office (FDSO Seattle)
1601 Lind Avenue SW
Renton, Wa 98057

Phone: (425) 227-2813 or (800) 354-1940 Fax: (425) 227-1810

Wildlife disturbance on or near the DNWR should also be reported to Refuge Law Enforcement, David Falzetti ( or 360-457-8451). However, without detailed information including a tail number, date, time, and detailed wildlife disturbance behavior information he can do little. It is highly recommended that reports include photos of the tail number and type of wildlife disturbance. Understandably, these details can be very difficult to get, but the effort is important for follow-up.


Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report – 314 Species on the Brink

Shrinking and shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of U.S. birds within this century. Read the Audubon Climate Report.