Date: 8/25/17 5:28 am
From: Dennis Burnette <deburnette...>
Subject: Re: Important Conservation Issues - Consider Audubon
National Audubon Society sends out Action Alerts on issues that affect birds
and wildlife habitats. The alerts usually summarize the issues and suggest
steps members can take. One of the cool things about Audubon is that the
enormous national membership spans the whole political spectrum. There are
state Audubon offices both in North Carolina and South Carolina that send
out alerts of more regional interest. Joining National Audubon automatically
confers membership in a local chapter, if there is one nearby. (There are 9
chapters in North Carolina and 6 in South Carolina.) Even if there isnıt a
chapter nearby, a national member still can get action alerts and be active
in conservation. Membership is only $20 a year. The National Audubon Society
website is ; click on ³Conservation² to see a pull
down menu describing all the good work Audubon is doing. Audubon NC and
Audubon SC are very active in conservation at a more local level. The
websites are and . The websites
have a wealth of information about conservation activities in each state.
Clicking on the words under the banners will provide a quick tour of whatıs
going on.

By the way, I donıt work for Audubon, Iım just an active member of my local

Dennis Burnette
Greensboro, NC
Guilford County

From: <carolinabirds-request...> on behalf of Carolinabirds
Reply-To: Betsy Kane <oldurbanist...>
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 12:37 PM
To: Russ Oates <rmoates54...>
Cc: Maggie Strickland <gallinasviejas...>, Carolinabirds
Subject: Re: Important conservation issues


Thank you for these details. I want to take action, but I don't have time
to dig deep into the issues or figure out the process from scratch, as I am
committed to other efforts. Would it be possible for you to advise, or can
someone you know advise, on specific actions to be taken when the time is
right? I would be extremely grateful and ready to call or submit comments
if I could know 1) what to say (very briefly) 2) when to say it, and 3) who
to say it to.

Betsy Kane

On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 8:30 AM, Russ Oates <carolinabirds...> wrote:
> Maggie,
> Thank you for your response. You are absolutely right about the EPA. I was
> remiss in omitting the EPA from my comments on "Continuity of Executive Branch
> Natural Resource Management." Administrator Pruitt is intent on destroying
> the agency. His efforts to remove science from the decision making process
> are dumbfounding. We should prepare for deadly smog and burning rivers....the
> clock is turning back to the 1950s.
> Truly overwhelming...
> Russ
> On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 7:46 AM, Maggie Strickland <gallinasviejas...>
> wrote:
>> Russ,
>> Thank you so much for this clear and specific information. While most of my
>> recent contacts with our senators and representatives has concerned other
>> matters, I am horrified at the sweeping changes at the EPA. The wholesale
>> retreat from preservation and conservation is so disheartening. I promise I
>> will take action on these issues.
>> Sincerely,
>> Maggie Strickland
>> Harmony, Maine
>> On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 8:39 PM, Russ Oates <carolinabirds...> wrote:
>>> CBC Members,
>>> There are several nationally or internationally important bird-related
>>> issues in Alaska that are currently approaching decision points in the
>>> Congress and/or the Executive Branch. Given the anti-conservation statements
>>> and actions of the current Administration and the likely willingness by the
>>> Congress to follow suit, I am asking you to review these issues and to
>>> consider contacting the appropriate Executive Branch agencies and especially
>>> your US Congressional delegation to encourage them to act on the side of
>>> responsible conservation. Many of these issues will be decided in the US
>>> Senate. Currently-proposed legislation and executive actions will cause
>>> irreparable damage to Important Bird Areas. Much is at stake.
>>> A significant proportion of members from both parties in Congress are
>>> conservationists at heart but the Republicans will be under severe pressure
>>> to roll back environmental protections nationwide. We only need 3
>>> Republican senators to vote against an ill-advised development project or
>>> management action to block it, so your calls or letters to your US
>>> Congressional Delegation could be crucial.
>>> Alaska is a hugely-important nesting area for birds from all four North
>>> American flyways (especially Pacific and Central) as well as the East
>>> Asia/Australasia and East Asia/East Africa flyways. Bird band reports
>>> (returns) have shown that some of the Tundra Swans and at least 4 species of
>>> ducks that breed in Alaska also spend the winter in NC. Although I couldnıt
>>> easily check banding data for other species, AK and NC share at least 16
>>> species of shorebirds. Also, Alaska has historically been a safe haven for
>>> species depleted elsewhere in their ranges (for example: Bald Eagles,
>>> Trumpeter Swans, Peregrine Falcons) and for many years provided eggs and/or
>>> young to the lower 48 states for restoration.
>>> I present each issue by identifying it, followed by the desired outcome.
>>> This will be followed by a brief explanation of whatıs at stake and why
>>> there is an issue. If you need more information, you can Google Audubon
>>> Alaska or the names of the locations of concern.
>>> 1) Issue: Beaufort/Chukchi Sea (off the north shore of Alaska) offshore
>>> petroleum drilling.
>>> Desired outcome: Block offshore development in Chukchi and Beaufort
>>> seas.
>>> I know of no oil spill anywhere in an area of broken or solid ice cover on
>>> marine water that was effectively cleaned up or even contained. Current
>>> spill clean up technology doesnıt work in ice-choked waters. Historically,
>>> ice has been present in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas more than 200 days per
>>> year. In addition to the threats to whales, seals, and polar bears, an
>>> offshore or nearshore spill occurring in late winter or early spring poses a
>>> tremendous threat to at least 2 million spring-migrating Long-tailed Ducks
>>> and King and Common eiders. Also threatened would be Endangered Species Act
>>> (ESA)-listed ³Threatened² Spectacled and Stellerıs eiders (the entire North
>>> American breeding population of Stellerıs Eiders) and ESA listed ³Warranted
>>> But Precluded² Yellow-billed Loon. Large numbers of many species of
>>> shorebirds, gulls, terns, and jaegers would be at risk from floating oil and
>>> oiled shorelines. Here is the nightmare scenario: We know that essentially
>>> all of the bird species mentioned move to northern breeding grounds as early
>>> in spring as conditions will allow. These birds fly north along the Bering
>>> Sea coastline and turn east into the Chukchi, using any open water patches
>>> to rest and feed while enroute to their breeding grounds in arctic Alaska
>>> and Canada. If a spill occurs at an offshore rig or seabed pipeline in late
>>> winter or early spring, the floating portion of the spill could be waiting
>>> as a death trap there for the migrating birds. This could affect tens to
>>> hundreds of thousands of birds and there could be no way to stop the spill,
>>> clean up the spill, or rescue birds. There is clearly potential for
>>> population level impacts on several species (at a minimum: King Eider,
>>> Spectacled Eider, Stellerıs Eider, Common Eider, Yellow-billed Loon).
>>> 2) Issue: Opening the Teshekpuk Lake Goose Molting area to oil development.
>>> Desired outcome: Maintain the moratorium on development of this area.
>>> Teshekpuk Lake, the second-largest lake in Alaska, is located within the
>>> 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska (NPRA, administered by
>>> Bureau of Land Management), and sits about 15 miles south of the western
>>> Beaufort Sea coastline (175 miles west of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).
>>> The 200+ lakes loosely clustered between Teshekpuk Lake and the coastline
>>> constitute the largest arctic goose molting resort in North America,
>>> supporting multiple species of flightless molting birds (Mid-continent
>>> White-fronted Geese, Pacific Black Brant, Lesser Snow Geese, and Cackling
>>> Geese) for several critical months each summer. Frequently, up to 100,000
>>> geese molt in these lakes. During the annual wing molt, these birds are
>>> exceptionally sensitive to disturbance, and an on-the-ground research
>>> scientist during the 1970s reported birds reacting (avoidance behavior) to a
>>> person walking across the board-flat tundra at a distance of one mile. With
>>> that high level of sensitivity, itıs no wonder that the geese picked one of
>>> the most remote locations in Alaska to undergo the 2-3 week flightless
>>> period. The area appeared to be secure from large-scale disturbance until
>>> winter seismic work revealed the possibility of extensive oil deposits
>>> directly under the molting area. I have seen a detailed proposed
>>> development scenario prepared by the petroleum industry that I strongly
>>> believe would result in the complete abandonment of the molting area. Over
>>> the years, scientists (from government and conservation organizations) have
>>> successfully defended this important molting area against several industry
>>> and pro-development administration attempts to open it for oil development.
>>> I credit Audubon Alaska with leading the effort that resulted in the latest
>>> stay of execution. During the Obama Administration, a ten-year moratorium on
>>> development was instituted in this area to protect the geese, shorebirds and
>>> the 60,000-head Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herdıs calving area. Due to the
>>> intense pressure from the current administration to open currently closed
>>> areas of Alaska to petroleum development, it is very likely that the
>>> moratorium will be cancelled.
>>> 3) Issue: Opening the Coastal Plain (commonly referred to as the ³1002
>>> {ten oh two} area²) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil
>>> exploration and development.
>>> Desired outcome: Protect the entire Coastal Plain area of Arctic National
>>> Wildlife Refuge with wilderness designation.
>>> The coastal plain portion of ANWR is approximately 1.5 million acres in
>>> size, and represents about 5% of the coastal plain north of the Brooks
>>> Range. Virtually all of the 95% not within the Refuge is already open for
>>> oil exploration and development. Giving this relatively small area
>>> Wilderness status would permanently protect a complete arctic ecosystem from
>>> the shoreline on the Beaufort Sea coastline, south across the coastal plain,
>>> through the foothills and the north slope of the Brooks Range (itıs all
>>> tundra from the divide north to the Beaufort Sea), and sweeping down the
>>> south slope to the boreal forests and the northern floodplain of the Yukon
>>> River. Most of this area looks as it has for thousands of years, and it is
>>> ecologically complete and intact with a full suite of life including a
>>> complex of top-level predators. Why would it hurt to develop the coastal
>>> plain portion? The coastal plain is the calving area for the 150,000-strong
>>> Porcupine Caribou Herd, a herd that is a vitally important subsistence
>>> resource for the Gwichin Athabascan Indians that live south of the Brooks
>>> Range in Alaska and Yukon Territories (where the caribou herd winters). The
>>> herd concentrates on the coastal plain during a mass birthing in late
>>> June/early July, and the cows tend to their young and try to protect them
>>> from a whole host of predators (brown bears, wolves, wolverines, and Golden
>>> Eagles converge for this annual feast.) The caribou are also an important
>>> subsistence resource (second to bowhead whales) for the Inupiat Eskimos of
>>> the Alaska North Slope. Despite the deliberate misrepresentations of the
>>> affected area (particularly by former Secretary of Interior under George W.
>>> Bush) and research done on caribou response to oil pipelines (by multiple
>>> pro-development administrations), a prominent caribou researcher told me
>>> that pregnant females and females with calves stay away from oil pipelines
>>> (based on work done in the Prudhoe Bay area). A spider web of pipelines
>>> connecting production wells, and associated structures and airfields, would
>>> likely have dire long-term consequences for the herd and associated predator
>>> populations (not to mention the subsistence hunters). The coastal plain is
>>> also an important migration area for Yellow-billed Loons and nesting and
>>> migration habitat for a host of different shorebird species (for example:
>>> Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden Plover,
>>> Semipalmated Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandpiper,
>>> Long-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes,
>>> Bar-tailed Godwit, and Bairdıs Sandpiper.) The coastal plain is important
>>> in some years for as many as 350,000 Lesser Snow Geese (that nested in a
>>> western Canada colony) to fatten on sedge rhizomes before migrating south.
>>> 4) Issue: Approval of the Pebble Mine.
>>> Desired outcome: Maintain the EPA position protecting the area from mining
>>> and provide permanent protection to the watershed.
>>> Pebble is a massive mining project proposed for Alaska state lands in the
>>> middle of the watershed containing the spawning area of the largest sockeye
>>> salmon stock in the world (and the other 4 species of salmon as well). In
>>> addition, sockeye hatchlings live 1-2 years in connected lakes until they
>>> are large enough to go out to sea. Roughly half of the worldıs wild-caught
>>> salmon comes from Bristol Bay. If developed, the mine will be the largest
>>> mine in North America and the highly toxic tailings will be stored behind
>>> the largest earthen dam in the world (over 700 feet tall and several miles
>>> long.) This is a seismically active area, and independent scientists doubt
>>> whether the dam would survive a major earthquake on the order of the one
>>> that severely damaged Anchorage and several other southcentral Alaska
>>> coastal communities in 1964. Needless to say, the failure of this dam would
>>> be catastrophic for the salmon and potentially for the many species of
>>> marine birds (including Emperor Geese and ESA listed Stellerıs Eiders) that
>>> use Bristol Bay as a foraging area during migration.) After extensive
>>> investigations, this area was declared by the EPA to be too valuable and
>>> vulnerable to mine, but the Trump administration resurrected the project.
>>> If you like to eat wild salmon or support sustainable management of wild
>>> salmon, you have a dog in this fight. Please, take a moment to check out
>>> this web site:
>>> <>>> home_&d=DwMFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=ymRCw6Q-sBitu
>>> g_rdeO1Tokz-I_SX2LQN2_Ocvlal9U&m=7EO4BVk-XJ7NwcinUfmYJ6IqVyRpdxRLrIOCGxsI31Q
>>> &s=UivxUYuxxj67rL43Q6khgMRE3p-5W3cZUbqTdOKj7ls&e=>
>>> 5) Issue: The State National Forest Management Act of 2017 (SNFMA) and the
>>> Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Transfer Act (AMHT).
>>> Desired outcome: Defeat both bills.
>>> SNFMA, (HR 232, sponsored by Rep. Don Young of Alaska) was introduced in
>>> January of this year. I donıt understand all of the details, but I read the
>>> text and this is my take: While there are some specific Alaska provisions,
>>> much of the bill applies to all states and national forests in North and
>>> South Carolina could be profoundly affected. As written, this bill would
>>> allow each state to select up to 2,000,000 acres of National Forest within
>>> their respective state boundaries for transfer to state ownership and
>>> management with the mandate to supply the needs of all wood processing
>>> operations in the state. Potentially, 100% of NCıs 1.255 million acres of
>>> National Forest could be transferred to the state. This legislation would
>>> also permit mining in the ³former² national forests.
>>> AMHT, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, has been developed in the Senate
>>> to the point that it can be added as a rider to another, more urgent bill.
>>> The bill is intended to allow the transfer of old growth acreage to private
>>> (Alaska Native) corporations in exchange for their corporate-owned
>>> logged-over areas. This will facilitate the rapid destruction of the
>>> magnificent old growth trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.
>>> The Alaska congressional delegation has, for decades, done everything in
>>> their power to open up the remaining old growth trees of the magnificent
>>> Tongass National Forest to logging. Only 3% of the Tongass is old growth, so
>>> we must act now to save it.
>>> 6) Issue: Building a road to the village of King Cove through the
>>> Designated Wilderness portion of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
>>> Desired outcome: Prevent the road from being built.
>>> Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, one of Alaskaıs oldest refuges, is the
>>> principal fall staging area for essentially 100% of the Pacific Black Brant
>>> population. The area is also a vital staging area for Emperor Geese, which
>>> winter to the west on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands and breed
>>> almost exclusively to the north on the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
>>> Izembek lagoon provides lush eelgrass beds that allow the brant to
>>> accumulate huge amounts of body fat (nearly doubling their weight) necessary
>>> to enable the birds to survive the 60+ hour direct flight to overwintering
>>> areas principally in the bays of the Pacific coast of Baja and mainland
>>> Mexico. Most of the historic wintering areas on the west coast of the Lower
>>> 48 states have been destroyed or dramatically reduced by dredging and other
>>> development.
>>> Never since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 has a designated
>>> Wilderness Area been compromised for the purpose of road construction. A
>>> federal Judge ruled in 2015 in favor of the Department of Interiorıs
>>> decision to deny permission for construction of the road. The US House of
>>> Representatives recently passed legislation that would open the area to road
>>> construction. This bill sets a very dangerous precedent by potentially
>>> opening the door to road construction in Wilderness Areas nationwide. The
>>> bill now goes to the Senate where we will have our final chance to defeat
>>> it. Please contact your US Senators and encourage them to protect the
>>> Refuge.
>>> Read more at the following site:
>>> 4pynARMjWZyRCHtlXoqa7HSyzJ7Eavxean6O-cr04HohyVXHZ_oF7nxNLuA34P3lHvMs55XcmyuW
>>> sxwFL30mx32Pkg_QoLMSrT5MESKygZxJ5oqNn1lyGzfHnR37nhUVShgv23woUDpVuyhOmuUCZtb0
>>> DC28--kUtg
>>> <>>>
>>> yRCHtlXoqa7HSyzJ7Eavxean6O-2Dcr04HohyVXHZ-5FoF7nxNLuA34P3lHvMs55XcmyuWsxwFL3
>>> 0mx32Pkg-5FQoLMSrT5MESKygZxJ5oqNn1lyGzfHnR37nhUVShgv23woUDpVuyhOmuUCZtb0MhUt
>>> -2D-2DkUtg&d=DwMFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=ymRCw6Q-
>>> sBitug_rdeO1Tokz-I_SX2LQN2_Ocvlal9U&m=7EO4BVk-XJ7NwcinUfmYJ6IqVyRpdxRLrIOCGx
>>> sI31Q&s=OJqcrSNTszJyGuUOX-39GQncztYfnRuZNQ1KWelo7_A&e=>
>>> 7) Issue: Climate change.
>>> Desired outcome: The US fully engages in the Paris Climate Change Accords.
>>> Alaska is home to vast amounts of glacial ice, sea ice, and permafrost. If
>>> these melt, and they certainly are melting at this point, they will make a
>>> huge contribution to a warming climate. The threat of melting permafrost is
>>> probably least known by the public. When permafrost melts, it releases not
>>> only carbon dioxide the but also large amounts of methane (molecule for
>>> molecule, far more problematic than carbon dioxide.) The consequences of
>>> extensive permafrost melting across the northern hemisphere are unthinkable.
>>> 8) Issue: Continuity of Executive Branch Natural Resource Management.
>>> Desired Outcome: Full funding for natural resource conservation functions
>>> for Department of Interior (especially US Fish and Wildlife Service, US
>>> National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management) Department of
>>> Agriculture (US Forest Service and the Farm Bill) and Department of Energy;
>>> cessation of the ³reshuffling² of senior leadership positions among
>>> agencies; retain the designations of the National Monuments currently under
>>> ³review² by Secretary of the Interior Zinke.
>>> In my recent summer trip to Alaska to visit family, I visited with former
>>> colleagues from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and learned that the
>>> Presidentıs budget as well as statements and actions by the top
>>> administrators in EPA, Energy, and Interior send clear signals of a desire
>>> to significantly damage or eliminate important federal conservation
>>> programs. Interior Secretary Zinke has engaged in a policy of shuffling
>>> occupants of senior leadership positions, removing leaders from areas of
>>> expertise and placing them in positions in other agencies that do not relate
>>> to their experience or training. Clearly, the intent is to cripple the
>>> agencies at the top, create chaos, and stop them from conducting and
>>> disseminating scientifically rigorous science that is inconvenient to the
>>> Administrationıs ideology. The extent of this effort is beyond anything I
>>> saw in my 31 year federal career.
>>> I regret the great length of this post. These are incredibly difficult
>>> times. There is so much at stake! Thank you for any help that you can
>>> provide!
>>> Russ Oates (USFWS Alaska, Retired)
>>> Burnsville, NC
>>> --
>>> Conserve wild things, protect wild places.
> --
> Conserve wild things, protect wild places.

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