Matthew’s Musings: March-April, 2014
By Matthew Schaut, MRVAC President
Early February, winter glorious, our land clothed in the appropriate garment, a snug blanket of snow. Subnivean habitat spread across much of the continent. Grouse snug below the snow, at minus 6.667 degrees Celsius; the critters of the ground, the turners of the soil, going about their daily lives.
Snowy Owls are here in numbers divine, around 200 in Minnesota. Their numbers may be a sign of nesting success and the scarcity of extra Arctic hunting territories. Let’s hope things work out for them as they spend the winter with us and return to the Arctic. They are incredible!
Stan Tekiela gave MRVAC’s January talk at the Refuge, on owls. It was wonderful to see many youth among the attendees. Come back, come back! We work for you. Thank you, parents, for bringing your children. Some may not know this, but children are as capable of sense as any adult! It’s true. At age 8, when Rachel Carson and John Muir became my idols, I just had to hear about them. Concepts of interdependency, ecological stewardship are not so hard to comprehend. Kids get it. Let’s make sure our chapter provides both outdoor fun and learning opportunities for all ages.
There is plenty of need for activism by the young and the old. There’s the tone deaf plan to replace the sewers underneath the Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Minneapolis. There’s the struggle to preserve the natural character of Lebanon Hills Regional Park. There’s been some success in SE Minnesota in slowing the rush to mine frac sands, with Houston County contemplating an outright ban on the practice! Superior, WI has said “no thanks”, thus far, to a proposal to ship tar sands oil by barge on the Great Lakes, although I often have to stop for trains of 100 cars and more carrying this oil through densely populated North Minneapolis. Already a tank car has leaked its contents across half the state.
The XL pipeline farce continues. Are you ready for civil disobedience? Our government may need to be convinced we won’t roll over and give up for this one.
If you haven’t submitted your comments about the proposed Polymet Supplemental Draft Environment Impact Statement (SDEIS) yet, please do. The Mining Truth website lays out the myriad inadequacies in the SDEIS: http://www.miningtruth.org/
At the St. Paul hearing on the SDEIS, it was hard to watch the pro-proposal ringers bussed down for the hearing. Not only did they all seem to wear the same thing (hardhats), when a name was called, the vast majority of these public hearing participants ceded their time to a Big Man in a suit – a town father, a CEO – who gave a canned speech.
In West Virginia, the citizens have been complicit in the destruction of their habitat for generations, for the sake of jobs. They have been subservient to the town fathers, corporate carpet baggers and the government agency ‘regulators’ – all complicit in fouling the water, earth, and air. Minnesota hasn’t yet gone all the way down that road, but it will if we allow environmental degradation for the sake of a job, allowing authorities to speak and think for us. Did you notice the English accent of the CEO of Freedom Industries, when he spoke to the cameras, just before promptly declared bankruptcy when his company’s practices were outed, something Polymet has “promised” not to do) That’s hard to reconcile with a democracy; it’s conducive to a kleptocracy.
Please, read up on the SDEIS, submit your comments, and let’s not be complicit in our own exploitation. Minnesota has been a light unto the world; let’s not join the Third World.
2013 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Results
2014 Birdathon to Raise Money for Educational Programs
Audubon MN Asks You to Send Comments on the PolyMet Mine
PolyMet Corporation is proposing to destroy thousands of acres of pristine habitat to mine sulfide ore at the headwaters of the St. Louis River — a major waterway that flows over 180 miles to Lake Superior. Learn more.
10th Annual Wintering Golden Eagle Survey
On January 18th, 171 volunteers combed the blufflands during the The 10th Annual Wintering Golden Eagle Survey. Read more.
Join the Environmental Action Committee
Help MRVAC make a difference for birds and wildlife – and the special places we like to visit. Learn more.
MRVAC in the community
Our chapter has been a proud sponsor of the Audubon Adventures (AA) program for many years. This program provides materials to elementary school classrooms in the area. Read more about the 2013/2014 school year.
Treats needed for upcoming meetings
We always need treats! If you can bring a few dozen cookies, bars or some easy-to-eat snack to share at the September or October meeting, please call Jan at 952-858-8604.
Fire codes affect seating in Refuge Visitor Center auditorium
At upcoming MRVAC meetings (the 4th Thursday of the month, during the school year) you may be asked to fill up empty seats or move in towards the center to allow others to sit down in the auditorium. We cannot bring in extra chairs and sit in the back when the room starts to get crowded, due to fire regulations.
Please help us comply with the rules and allow us to continue meeting at the Visitor Center by switching seats if necessary and by not carrying chairs into the auditorium. Thanks.