BIRDING – The Feb. 17-20 Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual event organized across North America by the National Audubon Society and several other groups, recorded the most unusual winter for birds in the count’s 15-year history.
An influx of snowy owls from the Arctic, early-migrating sandhill cranes, and belted kingfishers in northern areas that might normally be frozen over, accounted for some of the anomalies compiled from volunteers who provided 17.4 million bird observations of 623 species on 104,000 checklists.
“This was the most detailed four-day snapshot to be recorded for birdlife in the U.S. and Canada,” organizers said in a media release. Participants cited 623 species in online reports.
Record-breaking mild winter conditions in much of the continent apparently prompted birds to range farther north – and south, he said.
Participants recorded Snowy Owl sightings in record-breaking numbers throughout the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest of the United States. Canadian bird watchers saw four times the number of Snowy Owls they reported to the count last year.
Colville Forest details Power Lake project
PUBLIC LANDS – The Colville National Forest has released a proposal to thin trees and decommission some roads in the Calispell Creek drainage southeast of 49 Degrees North Ski Area.
The public has until mid-April to comment on the environmental assessment for the proposed Power Lake Vegetation Management project.
Proposed treatments would include fish habitat improvement through decommissioning approximately 4 miles of road, replacing or removing 10 culverts, and commercial timber harvest and thinning on up to 8,000 acres to improve forest health and reduce fire danger while improving wildlife habitat.
In order to complete these treatments, temporary and new roads will be constructed and approximately 2 miles of County Road 2022 (Middle Fork Calispell Creek Road) will be relocated onto County Road 2030 (Bartlett Road) and another forest road to improve fish habitat and water quality.
About 21 miles of currently closed roads in the project area are proposed to be decommissioned.
Jumbo Glacier Resort gets B.C. approval
PUBLIC LANDS – British Columbia Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson has announced his approval of controversial private-company plans to build the $900 million Jumbo Glacier Resort in the Purcell Mountains near Invermere.
The area is considered a pristine conservancy important to grizzly bears and backcountry recreation.
Opponents quoted in Calgary and Toronto newspapers say they have not given up the fight to block the building of the luxury all-season resort that will have two hotels and 1,360 residential units with 6,250 beds.