[Tweeters] Invitation

Constance Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Tue Jan 24 13:34:03 PST 2017

Hey tweets, I'd like to invite any interested birders to help out with an outcome study I and a few others have initiated at Montlake Fill (aka Union Bay Natural Area, or UBNA).

As many of you know, WSDOT's mitigation contractor has spread literally tons of woodchips on every field within the Loop Trail and beyond and is now in the process of planting hundreds, if not thousands, of so-called buffer plants to keep people away from the ponds and other areas. In theory, the mitigation plan is supposed to replace non-native species with native riparian and wetlands plants that will help fulfill UBNA's ten-year management plan, i.e., to manage the site for species diversity. The ultimate goal is to create buffers wherever there are ponds and to increase the overall canopy cover to 30%. Such plans have obviated any possible return of shorebird migrants, I believe, and will negatively impact nesting prairie birds too. But opinion is not enough. We need data.

I would very much like to conduct a years-long outcome study to see how many bird species and individual birds benefit from this plan. January 2017 will be our baseline year, when everything is maximally denuded.

I propose to conduct a monthly CBC-style count. The first one will take place this coming Sunday, Jan. 29. We'll meet at the kiosk at 7:30 a.m. (dawn is at 7:44) and deploy from there. I'm guessing we'll be in the field for 2-4 hours, depending on how much help we get. We'll cover all the area within the Loop Trail, plus the new pond that replaced the Dime Lot, plus the fields north of Wahkiakum Lane. If we get more people, we may also count birds in the lake, Yesler Swamp, and the field behind the CUH buildings - these could serve as a guide to help us understand the richness and diversity of habitats at the site and the biodiversity of avian life overall.

If you'd like to participate, would you please let me know ahead of time so I can prepare the proper number of count sheets?

WSDOT has told me (and Dennis Paulson, who is involved in this project) that the only outcome studies they ever conduct are plant surveys to see if the mitigated plants they install live or die. We think a bird outcome study would provide far more ground truth when it comes to determining how effective WSDOT's standardized mitigation plans really are for avian life. WSDOT assumes "if you plant it, they will come." This is not scientifically as sound as a real count would be.

If we can conduct such a study over the course of several years, counting each month, we will have a valuable tool that perhaps could be cited in other mitigation projects that WSDOT conducts statewide. My understanding is that currently, WSDOT's migitation plans are based on a salmon study from the 1990s. Such a foundation for mitigation plans might be appropriate for some areas but surely not for all. Montlake Fill is one such inappropriate area, I believe. I'd like to prove it. Can you help? - Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com

More information about the Tweeters mailing list