by Center for Biological Diversity - July 2, 2020
LAS VEGAS, July 1, 2020 — In a stunning development in the ongoing controversy over proposed military bombing range expansion in Nevada, the Democrat-led House Armed Services Committee today approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would give the U.S. Air Force jurisdiction over 850,000 acres currently managed as a wildlife refuge.
The Air Force has been seeking to expand its Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) bombing range for several years, proposing to take over 1.1 million acres of the adjacent Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Today’s amendment came from noted public lands opponent Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) but was approved on a voice vote by the Democratic majority committee.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the largest refuge in the lower 48 states, comprising 1.6 million acres of pristine Mojave Desert habitat, home to Nevada’s state mammal, the desert bighorn sheep, and the threatened Mojave desert tortoise. It is visible from the Las Vegas strip and many southern Nevadans consider it their back yard.
“It’s appalling that Democrats on the House Armed Services committee would betray the people of Nevada by giving away our beloved Desert National Wildlife Refuge to the Air Force,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Nevadans from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, Native American tribes, veterans and civilians, hunters and wildlife watchers, have all come together to oppose this proposal. It’s a slap in the face for this amendment to go through.”
The Air Force’s proposal to seize the Desert Refuge generated enormous public outcry and a national campaign to save the refuge, under the banner #DontBombTheBighorn. Over 32,000 people submitted comments to the Air Force opposed to the expansion. The Nevada legislature approved a resolution opposed to the expansion in 2019 with a bipartisan 58-3 vote.
Notably, in late 2019, the entire Nevada delegation introduced legislation which would have eliminated most of the Air Force’s takeover proposal while designating much of the refuge as wilderness. As a result of their advocacy, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted last month not to allow any expansion of the Air Force bombing range in their version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“It defies belief that the Desert Refuge could make it safely through Republican Senator Inhofe’s Senate Armed Services Committee only to be put on the chopping block by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee,” said Donnelly. “We’re grateful to representatives Horsford, Titus and Lee and senators Cortez Masto and Rosen for their advocacy for our beloved Desert Refuge. We stand by them and with the people of Nevada and will continue our fight to stop the military from dropping bombs on wildlife refuges.”
Mississippi Kite enjoys Clark County Wetlands Park
By Scott Clemson - July 2, 2020
First seen on July 1st, 2020 by Corey S., a 2nd year Mississippi Kite (MIKI) has graced the Park’s snags, aether, and wetlands for many to observe. L. 13-17” WS 31-37”
Ictinia Mississipiensis ( ἱκτινοσ [iktinos] Greek = kite, + of Mississippi) has been officially documented in Nevada only 11 times since 1986 (according to Martin Meyers’ perusal of NBRC records), with 8 of those sightings in Clark County.
March, 2020, was a turning point for Red Rock Audubon Society. The reality of living in a society with a deadly virus brought all our gatherings to a halt. General meeting - cancelled. Bird walks - cancelled. Birds and Beers (or Beverages) - cancelled. Community outreach programs - cancelled. No Bioblitz at Clark County Wetlands Park or Children's Festival at the Winchester Dondero Cultural Center. No field trips. And our fledgling Winchester Nesters program was grounded. And while some of us managed to salvage a bit of Global Big Day as a Great Basin Bird Observatory Bird-a-Thon, this annual adventure with friends wasn't near the fun it used to be.
Red Rock Audubon really, really wants people to support local bird populations by growing native plants. Native plants are the best choice because they are adapted to survive our extreme weather conditions. Local birds and insects have evolved alongside these plants that provide the specific nutrition they need. So we are reaching out into the community by planting demonstration gardens to showcase our beautiful Nevada natives.
We often think about window strikes happening on buildings & homes. Any reflective surface can result in a window strike. Here you see a bird has struck a car window, parked outside, with the trees reflected very clearly. How can we prevent birds from striking car windows?
Worm-eating Warbler photo by Jennifer Dudek
By Jennifer Dudek
If you know me, mornings are not necessarily my thing, so how I have found and stuck with birding as a hobby is sometimes baffling. Generally, birding requires setting the alarm and being out at the crack of dawn to witness the birds singing and feasting. On an early morning in May, I reaped the rewards of being the proverbial early bird catching the worm by witnessing a rare southern Nevada sighting of a Worm-eating Warbler.
BY NANCY JENNIS OLDS
As many of us were forced to do, I was more often than not relegated to our home last May, with eagerly anticipated travel plans and airline flights indefinitely postponed while facing a pandemic of historic proportions. Normal routines such as shopping for food, for both my husband and our beloved pets were reduced to carefully planned trips armed with masks, hand sanitizer and sugical gloves, for filling the gas tank. I was having the hardest time refraining from photographing wild birds and various wildlife in our truly unique desert parks in Henderson, Nevada. Springtime in Clark County was in full bloom. Migrating birds had been building nests and their offspring were flourishing in the cooler spring breezes before the next several months of relentless heat.
by Alex Harper
Alex Harper and Brandon Miller woke up early on May 3 to spend a few hours birding from home for the 2020 Birdathon. With a golf course and small park with fruiting mulberries across the street, they were hopeful that the green spaces would help yield a good species list.
by Cathy Kozmary
Masks, hand sanitizer, scopes, binocs and cameras ready to go, the Costaways headed out on May 16th at 6am at the Pabco trailhead. While social distancing was a priority, our eyes and ears were ready for every bird that we could possibly add to our checklist. It was the first birdathon for the 5 Costaways aka, birders (Andrea, Barbara, Jennifer, Troy and Cathy) not knowing how the day would evolve – it’s going to be hot, how many birds will we see, how many will we be able to identify, how long we will last…….. what an adventure ahead!
Originally posted on Audubon.org by David Yarnold
Audubon CEO David Yarnold shares the message he sent to all Audubon staff after a weekend of turmoil and heartbreak in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police.