Jeff Hambleton from the Pilchuck Audubon Society watches the sky during Swifts Night Out on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at the Wagner Performing Arts Center in Monroe, Washington. This Saturday the society will host their 19th annual Feast in the Forest event. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jeff Hambleton from the Pilchuck Audubon Society watches the sky during Swifts Night Out on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at the Wagner Performing Arts Center in Monroe, Washington. This Saturday the society will host their 19th annual Feast in the Forest event. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Pilchuck Audubon to celebrate chapter, endangered species milestones

Both the Audubon chapter and the Endangered Species Act are celebrating 50 years at Feast in the Forest event in Everett.

EVERETT — The Pilchuck Audubon Society plans to celebrate two milestones at its Feast in the Forest event on Saturday: the 50th anniversary of the chapter and the Endangered Species Act.

It’s not an accident the two occasions coincide, as there was “lots of momentum for conservation” in the 1970s, said Brian Zinke, executive director of the Pilchuck Audubon. Congress passed a slew of environmental legislation throughout the decade, including the Clean Water Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This year’s feast will feature a catered dinner at Floral Hall in Everett’s Forest Park and a talk by Todd Wildermuth, director of the University of Washington’s Environmental Law Program. As residents and Pilchuck Audubon members gather, event leaders hope to highlight local conservation achievements and goals.

Zinke said he has been looking at past Audubon Society newsletters and reflecting on the chapter’s history.

“Some of the issues have changed and some we’re still dealing with today,” Zinke said.

Protecting old growth forests for example — especially as habitat for state endangered northern spotted owls — remains an ongoing effort, Zinke said.

Still, Zinke said it’s clear the environment has been, and continues to be, a priority for locals. Pilchuck Audubon membership has increased over the past couple years, with currently over 450 members.

Zinke said the Pilchuck Audubon is drafting a new strategic plan, aiming to protect more habitat and expand the chapter’s educational programs in the near future.

Though the Endangered Species Act is often considered a “last resort” to save threatened animals, Zinke said the legislation also creates a sense of hope. Washington has 47 endangered, threatened and sensitive species, as of this year.

“We have recovered some species like the bald eagle,” he said. “Especially out here. They’re everywhere.”

Wildermuth, who also helps recommend changes to the state’s endangered species program, said the Endangered Species Act is a commitment, requiring humans to value life outside themselves.

“It’s an expensive task,” he said about wildlife conservation.

As the state population continues to grow and the planet continues to warm, Wildermuth said he’s interested in how Washington can expand protection, including threatened species’ habitats, too.

“We’ve got challenges ahead,” Wildermuth said, “but I’m an optimistic person.”

Ta’Leah Van Sistine: 425-339-3460; taleah.vansistine@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaLeahRoseV.

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