By Sharon Wootton
There are a few bet-on-it activities during the summer: road work, road openings and trail openings. But sometimes the messages are mixed.
Happily, Highway 542 is open to Artist Point. There steep, towering snow banks surround the parking area, the restrooms are buried in 15-20 feet of snow, and trails are still snowbound.
On a clear day, enjoy the great mountain views, including Mount Shuksan. The snow is pretty packed down, so a short snowy walk will get you better views of Mount Baker, Shuksan and Table Mountain.
Artist Point and the Heather Meadows Area require a U.S. Forest Service Recreation Pass. The Washington State Discover Pass is not honored here.
For more information, call the Glacier Public Service Center at 360-599-2714.
Repair work will continue through July on the one-tenth-mile Madison Falls Trail in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park as park crews and volunteers improve the trail.
This trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Cats vs. vermin email: Bob Reis of Arlington emailed his perspective on cats and birds.
“It seems that the pro-cat vs. pro-bird factions both have very strong feelings and are not open to compromise. The numbers given are huge but seem to me to be unverifiable.
“(I) feel they are more of a ‘SWAG’ (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) than fact. The numbers might be acceptable if songbirds were the only food source for feral cats, and an opportunistic food for ‘domestic’ cats.
“The facts are that cats, both feral and house, will hunt any food source available. It is in their nature to hunt.
“No mention is made of other prey that are regularly taken by cats, such as mice, rats, moles, voles, snakes and other small mammals … I can not imagine the vermin problem we would have if not for the cats in our neighborhoods and farms.
“I do not have scientific proof to back up my claims but I do know for sure that when the feral cat population in my neighborhood wanes, the moles in my yard increase and we have mice invade the house when the weather cools and natural food sources for field mice decreases.”
Trap, neuter and release tool: Katie Lisnik, director of the Cat Protection and Policy, Companion Animals, section of the Humane Society of the United States, offered her organization’s view:
“We want to thank you for covering the complex issue of cats and wildlife. This is a very divisive issue, and one that (we) deal with regularly.
“While conflicting data has been used to prop up one side or another, we feel that there is a lot of common ground that we should be focusing our efforts on rather than the pointless debate over exact predation numbers or whether or not TNR is a perfect solution.
“We all need to focus, instead, on practical and realistic strategies that help get us further along towards our goals. TNR is one tool in our toolkit, and it can work if implemented properly, and kept up over time.
“It, like other practical strategies, will not bring about our end goal overnight but it is in line with public opinion, and the current level of resources that can be dedicated to the issue.
“We’ll be holding a free, day-long training on cat issues on Oct. 20 in Lynnwood. This will be one in our series of Rethinking the Cat Symposia. It will focus on adoptable cats and on community (feral and stray) cats … new strategies and programs that can help us target our resources and achieve better results for cats and communities.”
For more information, go to http://bit.ly/1sCEcYh.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s latest Crossing Paths focuses on this issue. Go to http://1.usa.gov/1rYoKrS.
The cat vs. bird discussion in this column is now closed.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.