December 15: Christmas Bird Count & Potluck Soup Supper

You are invited to join us for the 119th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. All levels of experience are welcome. Young birders with good eyes and ears are especially appreciated as an addition to a team of more experienced birders. Come help us count the birds!

Soup Supper: On Saturday 12/15, gather between 4:30 and 5 pm to help set up for a potluck soup supper at the Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, 5760 Portland Ave 55417. Juice and coffee will be available from 5 to 5:30 and the meal begins at 5:30 pm.

Please bring soup, veggies, fruit, bread or dessert. Please contact Robin at 612-723-2632 or robinkutz13@gmail.com if you have soup-supper questions. You are welcome at the supper whether you counted with the Bloomington CBC or not.

Three counts are associated with MRVAC: 

  • Bloomington CBC – Saturday 12/15
    • The Bloomington CBC (Saturday, Dec. 15) is centered on the Black Dog Power Plant on the Minnesota River and includes parts of Bloomington, Burnsville, Richfield, Eagan, Apple Valley, and smaller parts of other cities.
    • Contact: Greg Burnes, 612-205-3071 gburnes@comcast.net 
  • Excelsior CBC – Saturday 12/15
    • The Excelsior CBC (Saturday, Dec. 15) is centered on the intersection of Hwys 5 and 101 in Eden Prairie and includes parts of Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Chaska and Shakopee.
      • Contact: Howard Towle at towle001@umn.edu or 612-710-1451 no later than December 8.
    • Alternatively, you can participate in the Excelsior count by helping to cover a portion of Carver Park.
  • Cedar Creek Bog CBC – Sunday 12/16

There are about 80 Christmas Bird Counts being held throughout Minnesota. For more information and to participate in other counts go to: http://moumn.org/CBC/locations_map.php.

November 15: Give to the Max Day

‘Tis the season of giving, and as you plan your charitable donations for 2018, please consider donating to MRVAC. We’ve partnered with GiveMN.org to help make donations quick and easy: https://givemn.org/organization/Minnesota-River-Valley-Audubon-Chapter.

One of MRVAC’s main objectives is to teach children about the importance of getting outdoors, experiencing nature, and caring for wildlife and the environment. To achieve these goals, we provide birding curriculum materials to schools, provide funding to enable busing to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, and conduct and organize river cleanups in the community. We also provide funding to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to hire interns.

GiveMN links donors with organizations that are working to make Minnesota a better place. Its online giving website, GiveMN.org, enables charitable giving any time and any place, allowing people to donate with ease and enthusiasm. GiveMN brings innovation, energy and fresh ideas to Minnesota generosity.

GiveMN is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Explore GiveMN.org today.

Tim Leahy Passed Away this Spring

MRVAC lost a great friend and mentor for many birders with the recent death of Tim Leahy.

Tim was an accomplished birder who, though he birded throughout the country and world, had a special fondness for the Minnesota River Valley, so close to his home in Bloomington.

Many of you may have met him during field trip outings down at the Old Cedar Bridge or at the Bass Ponds; Tim was an incessant birder and never shy. Anyone who would be around him would be sure to be told what it was that he was seeing out there, and he never hesitated to ask others who seemed to have their scopes or binoculars trained on a particular location what it was that they were seeing. Birding was always a community activity when it came to Tim, and he never considered his latest outing complete unless he could talk to people about what he had seen. 

Tim’s first birding teacher was his mother and since he has passed on his love of birding as well as his passion for making bird lists to many including his grandson, Justin. The birding community will miss him. 

Memorials may be directed to Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Handball Association Juniors Programs, or MRVAC.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Threat

An atrocity coming: Proposed 3-D seismic exploration in our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 

By Lois Norrgard, National Field Organizer, Alaska Wilderness League

Firth River, Arctic NWR (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Bureau of Land Management will soon announce a proposed plan for 3-D seismic exploration across the 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, with a public comment period to follow. 

The initial plan is the polar opposite of what drilling proponents promised when drilling language was passed in the tax bill last year. Instead of a small footprint and a careful process, they want to deploy a small army of industrial vehicles and equipment with a mandate to crisscross every square inch of the Arctic Refuge’s biological heart. This scheme will put denning polar bears at risk and leave lasting scars on the fragile tundra and its vegetation, all of this before a single drill rig has been placed or length of pipeline installed. The tracks left in the ground hold water and affect melting. 

The Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain is the biological heart of America’s most iconic wildlife refuge. Birds from all 50 U.S. states raise their young there, alongside other species including caribou, polar bears and muskoxen. The area is considered sacred by the Gwich’in people, who have relied on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for their food, and their culture, for thousands of years. Despite all the evidence that the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain has incomparable value for its wilderness, wildlife and subsistence resources, the plan fails to reference or say it would conduct any scientific study on the impacts. 

In the plan it calls for two massive teams of 150-160 workers, living in mobile camps that would be moved up to two miles every few days throughout the coastal plain by giant sleds, long-haul fuel tractors, fuelers, loaders and trucks. Working continuously in two 12-hour shifts every day from this December through May, these teams would cross the coastal plain in multiple 90,000-pound trucks that would send vibrations into the ground to map out oil and gas resources. That is 10,000 pounds heavier than the 18-wheeler trucks that traverse America’s highways. 

Seismic exploration does not belong in America’s largest and wildest refuge any more than development belongs in Yellowstone Park or the Grand Canyon. Please stay informed about this issue – and watch for the official public comment period to open. We all need to raise our voices against this atrocious idea! For more information email lois@alaskawild.org