Conservation Events

October 1, 2018Conservation Challenges in Thurston County

Black Hills Audubon faces several conservation challenges in Thurston County this fall, for which member participation is invited.

Mineral Lands Policy

Thurston County is considering radical changes in the code of the Mineral Lands chapter of the Comprehensive Plan.  BHAS seeks your help in sending emails to the Planning Commissioners and/or County Commissioners.  By coordinating with other environmental organizations, we hope to generate many more than the 120 emails (to the Planning Commission) that we elicited last March.

This fall, the Planning Commission (PC) will have two mandatory public hearings on new Comprehensive Plan language and code changes: one on Mineral Lands Policy, likely in October, and another, very critical hearing, on code changes in November.  Public comments on code will be crucial, because protective critical areas code, implemented in 2010 after years of exhaustive research, could be seriously weakened.  Although the Board of County Commissioners will have the final vote in 2019, it is important to focus now on comments to the PC.  We plan to alert BHAS members of our recommended comments.

On a positive note, the County hydrogeologist has produced a comprehensive memo in which he summarizes the problems that sand and gravel mines can create on surface waters...

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August 30, 2018Lake Lawrence Cell Tower Hearing (Remand) Set For Sept. 11

The remand hearing on the Lake Lawrence cell tower construction will be held Sep. 11, 10 am, at the Thurston County Courthouse.  BHAS opposes locating the proposed tower so close to several water features where waterfowl concentrate.  The water features include a Priority 2 pond, the Deschutes River, the Smith Ranch wetlands, and the nearby Lake Lawrence, all southwest of Yelm.  The presence of BHAS members and other citizens is important to demonstrate opposition to this project.

Public testimony on the land use portion of the application, with a three minute limit for each speaker, will occur at 1 pm.  I believe the importance of bird watching to your life (and others) may be addressed at this time. You can discuss how the cell tower would diminish your experience visually and by reducing (most likely) the population of birds in and around the Smith Ranch Mitigation Area and/or flyway.   Such public testimony with many personal stories would be valuable addition to the hearing.

Background:  In March 2016, BHAS supported an appeal of a cell phone tower construction next to several waterfowl concentration areas.  The high potential for bird collisions with the tower was/is the concern.  The Thurston County Hearings Examiner remanded the proposal back to county staff for...

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July 26, 2018Black Hills Audubon Surveys Birds on Wildlife-Rich Tract Acquired by Capitol Land Trust with Help from BHAS

Black Hills Audubon is now a partner in the acquisition of Blooms Preserve in the Black River watershed, north of Littlerock.  Formerly part of the Holm ranch, this 60-acre conservation land is now owned by Capitol Land Trust (CLT), with help from the Maytown Conservation Fund, managed by BHAS.  This tract of prairie and woodland includes Blooms Ditch — a salmon-bearing channelized stream — and can be managed for conservation of Oregon spotted frogs, a species of concern of the Maytown Conservation Fund, and will provide opportunities for bird surveys and field trips for BHAS.

In fact seven of us from BHAS met with Thom Woodruff, Interim Executive Director of CLT, on a warm and sunny July 12th for our first avian survey of Blooms Preserve, observing an amazing 57 species of birds, including Green Heron, Hutton’s, Cassin’s, and Warbling Vireos, and Western Tanager.  Thanks to all who participated from BHAS, including Whittier Johnson, Bob Wadsworth, Gary Wiles, Paul Hicks, Joe Zabransky, Anne Van Sweringen, and Sam Merrill.  We look forward to observing and enjoying the diversity of this land at other times of year, including during the Christmas bird count and spring migration.


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May 30, 2018Your Comments Needed about Impact on Birds by the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project in Lewis and Thurston Counties

RES-Americas proposes to install 38 wind-energy turbines on ridge tops in northern Lewis County, with part of the infrastructure in Thurston County.  Like National Audubon Society, the Black Hills Audubon Society supports wind-energy projects as long as the direct damage to birds from the turbines is appropriately minimized and mitigated.

The public is invited to comment on the scope of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) by both Lewis County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Your input is important to help these agencies better evaluate the potential impact of this wind-energy project on the environment, especially protected Marbled Murrelets, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, and other species of concern.   Often, officials or staff members really want our comments because public input empowers them to address wildlife conservation issues.  You do not need to live in either Lewis or Thurston Ct. to submit Comments.

The deadlines for Comments are very soon:

For the Lewis County EIS: Send Comments by Thursday, May 31 (5 p.m.), via email to or by postal mail to Lee Napier, Director, Lewis County Community Development Dept., 2025 NE Kresky Ave., Chehalis, WA 98532.

For the USFWS EIS: Send Comments By Monday, June 4 to USFWS via email to

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