2015 – 2016 Summary of YVAS Projects

Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society 2015-2016

Borrowing from Webster and Wiktionary a Society is defined, in part, as “An enduring and cooperating voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession.  The sum total of all voluntary interrelations between individuals that deliberate, determine and act toward a common goal.”

I Like that.  And I really like the well-crafted YVAS Mission” “Building on the tradition of special interest in birds, Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society is organized to promote enjoyment and protection of the natural environment through education, activism, and conservation of bird habitat.”

I remind myself of the YVAS purpose and Mission throughout each year that I have been involved with YVAS.  I and the YVAS Board of Directors thoughtfully evaluate what and how we and other YVAS members are doing in light of that Mission.  I thought it worthwhile to summarize some of the work our Society has done in our 2015-2016 ‘season’. Please take a look at the list and brief description of this work at the “About Us” tab at http://www.yvaudubon.org/.  I hope it helps all of us recall why we belong here and what is accomplished by YVAS members contributing to the YVAS Mission.

By Steve Regele, YVAS President

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Monthly Presentations:  YVAS organized and provided over a dozen top notch presentations in 2015-2016, including Bob Landis (wildlife film maker), Dr. John Marzluff (ornithologist and author), Dr. Jeff Morisette (Director of the US Department of Interior’s North Central Climate Science Center), and the special showing of the film “The Messenger”.   

We have a great set of monthly Chapter Programs lined up September 2016 thru May 2017.

Birding Trips:  YVAS hosted more than 18 scheduled birding trips in the 2015 – 2016 season, all open to the membership and public, well attended, fun and a great learning and recreational opportunity. Annual birding events include a Birdathon event in June, Christmas Bird Count in December, and an Annual Eagle Survey in the winter.

Osprey Project:  YVAS members and others in the Yellowstone River basin organized and implemented an ongoing and outstanding Osprey nest monitoring project in 2009 and Osprey banding in 2012.  The project involves nearly 50 volunteers, mostly YVAS members, and interaction with utility companies, tree surgeons, government agencies, private businesses, and the public. YVAS provided financial assistance to the Montana Raptor Conservation Center for care of an adult Osprey injured in Billings area. Rescue of Osprey nestlings from baling twine entanglement in nests has become a routine situation – one that has rescued many birds and helped further educate us all about the difficulties of living in this world. YVAS Osprey Project Committee has spent countless hours with regard to Osprey, baling twine problems, public awareness of the problems and recycling. For more information go to  http://www.yvaudubon.org/conservation/osprey-monitor-project/

Bird Data:  Summaries of bird data from YVAS birding trips are submitted to Montana Natural Heritage Program, Cornell Labs eBird Program, various State and Federal agencies, and others. More than thirty individual trip data summaries have thus far been submitted in the 2015-2016 season. This data is quite useful to managers and investigators involved with wildlife, habitat and related projects and developments.  It is also very useful to birders planning their birding trips.

YVAS Conservation Grants:  YVAS solicits proposals and grants financial assistance to various projects each year in line with the YVAS Mission.  http://www.yvaudubon.org/conservation/yvas-conservation-grant/

Bird Information/Education Signs: 

  • Shiloh Conservation Area: A bird and habitat information sign was installed in 2016 thanks in large part to a gift from Rose Sylling’s estate.
  • Dover Park: Bird and habitat information signs are planned to be installed in 2017 thanks to volunteer work and financial gifts from YVAS members.
  • Riverfront Park: Bird and habitat information signs are planned to be installed in 2016 thanks to volunteer work and financial gifts from YVAS members.
  • Yellowstone River: “Our Montana” is working with numerous groups including YVAS to put together trails and informational signs along the Yellowstone River. They have asked that YVAS keep that project in mind for possible installation of YVAS bird information signs.

Work with Federal, State and local wildlife and habitat management agencies and groups:

  • YVAS initiated and completed a Clarks Fork USFWS Wildlife Management Area Trail Improvement project;
  • YVAS member participation in various Agency managed bird monitoring programs and projects (e.g. Black Rosy Finch survey, Long-billed Curlew survey, eagle surveys, Breeding Bird Surveys, US Fish and Wildlife Waterfowl Production Areas and Waterfowl Management Areas bird use surveys);
  • YVAS member participation in local and regional conservation and habitat improvement projects – e.g. Pryor Mountains Bear Canyon weed management; litter removal from parks and other public lands.
  • Various letters, testimonials and technical documents submitted by YVAS concerning important wildlife, habitat, recreation and resource management issues (e.g. Mud Springs wind farm proposal, Pryor/Beartooth area; Intake Dam – Pallid Sturgeon and river ecology including habitat for birds; Custer National Forest, Forest Plan revision).
  • YVAS volunteers maintain mountain bluebird nest boxes around the Billings area and have done so for years

Collaboration with numerous local and regional non-profit organizations: Throughout 2015-2016 YVAS works routinely and within the scope of special projects and agency deadlines with numerous groups to accomplish the YVAS and similar organizations missions – e.g. Pryor’s Coalition, Our Montana, MT Wilderness Society, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Audubon Center, National Audubon, and Montana Audubon.  These efforts are very productive and are not likely to diminish.

Special Note – New YVAS VPSteve Linder has been a YVAS Board member since 2013 and accepted the August 2016 nomination and unanimous YVAS Board vote to be the new YVAS Vice President. 

Injured Bird Assists:  YVAS and its members provide information and assistance in dealing with injured birds. Various members also accept and deliver injured raptors to the Montana Raptor Center in cooperation with the Center and MT Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Web Site:  The web site is updated routinely and provides an excellent door to YVAS news and information and many other offerings. Visit http://www.yvaudubon.org/

Flyer:  YVAS publishes an excellent newsletter (“Flyer”) throughout the year which includes lots of news and information about YVAS and the work and offerings of YVAS. Visit http://www.yvaudubon.org/ and click on the Flyer Header.

Facebook:  The YVAS Facebook page came on-line in 2015. Visit with members and share with the world!   https://www.facebook.com/Yellowstone-Valley-Audubon-Society-504343829741848/

PublicityYVAS advertises its presentations, bird trips, projects and events in a wide variety of local and regional venues.

Recycling:  For many years YVAS has collected and recycled aluminum cans.  The money earned helps with routine YVAS organizational costs and special project expenses.

Information requests and assistance about “Birding Hot Spots” in Yellowstone Basin and eastern Montana:  Throughout the year YVAS receives requests for help in finding particular bird species or for good birding ‘hot spots, largely from out-of-state visitors.  We do our best to point these folks in the right direction, including the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Cornell Labs eBird Program, various State and Federal agencies and “Montana’s Online Birding Group” web site.

We also publish local and regional birding maps and bird lists – http://www.yvaudubon.org/birding/birding-hot-spots/

Membership Outreach:  YVAS has over 400 members.  We are always reaching out to the local and regional community for new contributing members and for members willing to contribute time and talent to YVAS projects and activities.

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