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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 12, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Bird population changes

Not just for the birds

Lynda Mapes’ excellent story from Monday, Dec. 8, “Suburban sprawl invites birds of a different feather”describes the situation that I get calls about almost daily from Audubon members and other concerned citizens across the state [News].

They are mad as hell when they see massive suburban developments with ” ScraperVille” moonscapes where there was once a little patch of forest or native meadow which once thrived and supported a rich mixture of birds and other wildlife.

These large and small areas of native trees and shrubs slow stormwater, replenish aquifers, cleanse runoff water that flows into salmon streams and Puget Sound and make the “place just a little more livable.”

John Marzluff’s research confirms the decline of our common birds, a precipitous decline that Audubon has been documenting since 2004 when our first “State of the Birds” report was published. We still worry about endangered birds, and now we realize we have to focus even more on our own backyards so that common birds stop declining.

Is losing our common birds inevitable? We think not.

Earlier this year, Audubon worked with the state legislature to pass the Evergreen Communities Act, one of the top four Priorities for a Healthy Washington supported by all conservation groups.

Kudos to our legislators for passing this new law that begins to set higher standards to prevent ScraperVilles. Audubon is now working with state agencies on a model ordinance that cities and counties could adopt to prevent disastrous development of the kind that Dr. Marzluff calls “nuke sites.”

Though the Evergreen Communities Act did not include funding to help local governments adopt the model standards, local communities can act on their own to do the right thing. Armed with the compelling information from Mapes’ story, we can urge our city council members to adopt the new Evergreen Community standards, because saving native plants and diverse habitat is not just for the birds.

— Nina Carter, Olympia

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