Flathead Audubon gets involved in carefully selected conservation issues to help fulfill several elements of our mission statement, including:
- Conservation of birds, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem diversity
- Promotion of awareness and appreciation of the natural world through advocacy
- Working with diverse groups and agencies to achieve sound decisions on natural resource issues.
When such issues arise, the Flathead Audubon Conservation Committee gathers information and brings this to the Board of Directors for formulation of Flathead Audubon’s position on the issue. Conservation Committee members then act to promote that position by working cooperatively with other groups or managing agencies, attending relevant planning or comment meetings, conversing with appropriate agencies and officials, or submitting written comments when opportunity is provided.
Four examples of past involvement in issues include:
1) Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks proposed purchasing two parcels of land in the Flathead River Corridor to expand the Otter Island Fisheries Conservation Area. Flathead Audubon supported this proposal because it would protect the riparian and wetland habitats included in these parcels, provide conservation management for both the fish and wildlife using the parcels, and provide access to the public for fishing and other dispersed recreational activities. (See FAS correspondence 2013 Otter Island Acquisition and 2014 Otter Island Area Additions Draft EA.)
(2) Governor Bullock initiated plans to institute a Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy, and issued a Draft Strategy for public comment. Flathead Audubon provided comments that pinpointed several strengths of this Draft Strategy, and also noted several points of concern, and suggested changes that would address these concerns. (See FAS correspondence 2013 Montana Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Strategy.)
(3) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidelines for Public Comment. Flathead Audubon submitted a letter of comment. Several aspects of the Draft Guidelines were praised. In particular, the Draft Guidelines include quite specific directions, and they are designed to provide incentive to developers to follow the guidelines – following the guidelines brings the developer into compliance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Weaknesses in the draft were also noted. (See FAS correspondence 2011 Eagle Plan Conservation Guidance.)
4) Snag management was an important issue in post-fire timber harvests after the large wildfires of 2003 in the Flathead River drainages. Flathead Audubon encouraged the Flathead National Forest to apply the best available science to adequately conserve high quality snag habitat created by the wildfires. We participated in public meetings, then reviewed and submitted comments on the management proposed by the Forest Service. (See FAS correspondence 2004 Robert-Wedge Post-Fire Project Draft EIS.)
Members are encouraged to contact us about emerging conservation issues and issues of interest to them.