>Responses – 3/25/10

>Wildlife Update Responses.  According to your comments our Updates are appreciated, but even more so when they contain wildlife information and pictures.  We had some good responses regarding what has happened to the quail and pheasants.  See the following responses that have come in so far (in the order they were received):

Response #1.  The demise of quail and pheasant have been substantially hastened by irresponsible people who think it is their right to let domestic cats wander freely outside.  The (young) quail and pheasants are quickly killed as amusement and sport by outdoor cats.  Even the Humane Society adamantly states that domestic cats should be in-door critters.  If you want quail and pheasant to thrive, then people need to find enlightenment and deal responsibly with their cats as in-doors pets.  But cat owners don’t want to hear this because their precious little Muffin should have their freedom to wander to their heart’s delight (regardless of cost to wildlife) because it just wouldn’t be fair to little Muffin.  It’s an old and tired attitude.  The National Audubon reports domestic cats are the number one predator of native song birds, and number two is not even close. 
Of course coyote, fox, raccoon, etc will also kill birds, particularly the most vulnerable ground feeders such as quail and pheasant, but the losses are minimal compared to the carnage done by domestic cats. 

Response #2.  Where have all the quail gone ???  ..Eagle food and racoon dinners. 
We lost 3 quineas last week one with an eagle,  two with racoons.

Response #3.  I don’t have a picture but have spotted the quail a number of times on
Illahee road southbound just past the creek. We seem to have an over
abundance of deer this year, one with a totally white leg, so our albino
deer must still be somewhere in the area.

Response #4.  Great pheasant photos!

Response #5.  Beautiful photos!!!!

Response #6.  What beautiful pictures, wow. It’s such a treat to see some of our local wildlife. I had a hen and a rooster here several years ago that I enjoyed watching, but with all the dogs and cats around they moved. Thankyou for adding these along with the updates on our area and the Timbers Edge news. I appreciate all that you do.

Response #7.  perhaps in your next update you could include this link:

This is the owl that has been serenading all of us who live close to the Illahee Creek ravine for the past week or so.  He/she has been hooting continuously from dusk to dawn.  Yesterday I pushed my snooze button twice around 5:00 am until I realized it wasn’t my alarm – it was the bird!!  I recorded the sound and sent it to Vic Ulsh who identified it and sent me the link.  He also said this about it:  Your serenading little friend is a northern saw-whet owl.   I am glad to have them in Illahee Forest.  They are cute little rascals.  The big bully “barred owls” who roam Illahee Forest can be predatory on the little saw-whet owls so I worry about them.  Sorry for the annoying and monotonous serenade. 

Response #8.  I think the pheasant and quail populations have decreased due to a combination of more pets (dogs and cats) roaming around in the daylight hours, and more wild animals (possums and raccoons) scouring their roosting areas at night.  Throw in a few fox and coyotes along with a few hawks and falcons and the poor birds don’t have a chance.  Its a wonder we have as many as we do.

Thank You for Responding.  Thank you to all who let us know you like to receive these Updates, and thank you for those who responded to this last one.  We appreciate you comments and input!  Also, let us know your owl stories, like the one in Response #7.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 3/23/10

>Quail Report.  Awhile ago we got an email from someone reporting seeing quail.  There used to lots of quail around the area and years ago most of a covey (19) landed on a large deck we had at the time.  Since then the sightings have decreased to the point we wondered if there were still any in the area.  If anyone has them around it would be nice to see a photo.

Pheasant Pictures.  We did receive some nice pheasant pictures from John Lind that we have attached.  It also seems like there used to be more pheasants in the area than there is now.  We used to have some resident pheasants we would see daily in the area and also others when going for walks.   It is nice to know there are still some around.

County Commissioner Meeting Issue.  A number of Illahee residents were at the County Commissioner Meeting on Monday evening (3/22/10) to urge the Commissioners to change the way they handle land use appeals such as the Timbers Edge appeal.  The issues are whether the Commissioners should continue to hear appeals or remove themselves from the process, and also whether volunteer mediation should be used.  The Kitsap Sun covered the issues in the linked article on Sunday  http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/mar/20/commissioners-weigh-changes-to-land-use-appeals/.

Illahee Community Statement.  Two Illahee residents spoke in favor of the Commissioners getting out of the appeal process entirely and in favor of mediation.  The following statement from the Illahee Community Club was read and submitted:
Thank you for looking at ways to improve the appeal process.
When making your decision, please take into account local community input.  After all, they are the ones who are going to have to live with the results.
In Illahee the results of poor DCD decisions in the past are evident every time there is a significant rain.  Storm water is tight-lined to the deeply incised canyons of Illahee Creek where it becomes a flushing action.  And the results are a culvert filling with sediment and brown sediment laden waters polluting Puget Sound waters.  And last year the estimate to fix the Illahee Creek storm surge problems came in at $20 million dollars.  The cost of correcting poor county decisions is significant and it looks like the community will continue to have to live with the results.
The Illahee Community has found over the years it cannot depend on county actions to protect its own interests and has had to pay for its own scientific studies followed by appeals to the Hearing Examiner and to the Board of County Commissioners.  The process was not fulfilling and community input seemed discounted at every step.  This should not be the case and there must be a better way to doing things.
We like the medication concept and hope it will help.
We would also like to see the Commissioners step out of the judicial process entirely as they usually have neither the legal background nor the training to be making these decisions.   Why should the community pay a lawyer to argue complex legal issues before a non-judicial person?  It just doesn’t make sense!
Please find a way to take into account your local community’s desires as they are the ones who will have to live with the results of your decisions.
Walker’s Paradise.  With the nice days and the blossoms on the trees and the fragrances of the blooms, it is a walker’s paradise.  We have attached a couple of photos as we know some on our email list have not returned from their winter homes.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous – 3/9/10

>Saturday Rain Garden Planting.  On Saturday 21 volunteers from Illahee, and those with various connections to Illahee, showed up to plant 5 demonstration native plant rain garden plots at the Illahee Preserve Almira parking lot.

Botanist Aimee Weber Supervised The Planting.  The rain garden plot plantings were coordinated by Aimee Weber, a volunteer botanist with rain garden installation experience.  Aimee helped develop the plant order, picked up the plants, and worked with her plans and the plans of landscape architect Jenny Morgan and four Master Gardeners and the installing volunteers to come up with the final layouts.  She was one busy person trying to keep up with so many helpers and so many different plants going in so many different locations.

Earlier Plot Preparation.  Before the planting could begin, volunteer plants that were emerging from the rain garden area had to be transplanted, weeds had to be removed, and the plots had to be rake graded.  The plot designs were laid out earlier and the three paths separating four of the demonstration areas were covered with wood chips.  And prior to that Parks Department had the parking lot center area prepared with the amended soils required for rain gardens.  In other words there was lots of work that had to be done before the actual planting, by a number of different groups that was finally completed by the Saturday’s volunteers.

Over 300 Native Plants Planted.  The number of native plants that were planted on Saturday numbered over 300, which included some sword ferns that came from the Illahee Preserve.  The number of different species is about 20.  Because of security issues the taller native species rain garden plants were not installed.  Note that there will likely be other native plant species eventually planted in the representative species plot at a later date.

Rain Garden Interpretive Signs Later.  Now that the Rain Garden is essentially complete the planning for the interpretive signs will begin.  There are eight interpretive signs being planned to describe and promote rain gardens for area residents.  

Demonstration Rain Garden Authorized by DOE/Port Grant.  The demonstration part of the rain garden is authorized as part of Port of Illahee/Department of Ecology grant Parametrix report that found bio-retention facilities (or rain gardens) would help both with storm water and aquifer issues.

Rain Garden Plots are Primarily for Illahee Residents.  The demonstration part of the rain gardens are installed primarily for Illahee residents.  There are two important reasons for informing residents of the need to consider installing rain gardens on their properties.

To Help Decrease Storm Water Surges.  There are places in Illahee and north of Illahee where storm water is tight-lined into Illahee Creek rather than being slowed down and retained in detention ponds.  This was done before retention facilities were required.  Those areas greatly contribute to the storm water surges that run through the Illahee Creek corridor and then out into Puget Sound waters with brown silt laden storm water that can be seen for miles out in the bay.  Residents in these areas provide one of the keys to solving the sediment pollution problems in Puget Sound if they would install a rain garden on their property.

To Help Replenish Critical Aquifers.  And in other parts of Illahee there are critical aquifer recharge areas where rain garden infiltration of storm water is crucial for maintaining the stream flow (called base flow) in Illahee Creek.  

Pictures Coming.  Photos of the planting event were taken and we are expecting to put them on the illaheecommunity.org website.  We will provide a link to the photos at a later date.

Another Tree Planting Event to Note.  We have attached a pdf file that notes that in April 2010 Illahee resident and arborist Jim Trainer will plant his 1,000,000 tree on Blake Island.  Congratulations Jim!!

Lost Dog in University Point Area.  We just received the following lost dog report that was sent to our website (illaheecommunity.com).

My name is Gabriela Jablonski and I live off of University Point Circle.  Yesterday as I walked my dogs on the beach, one of them wriggled out of her collar and took off in full sprint after something.  I was unable to retrieve her and she is now lost.  Her name is Koda, she is a large white fluffy Great Pyrennees without her collar.  If you see her or have her please call 633-7224 or cell: 832-528-5167.

Jim Aho