Lake Love

Lake Love: The Great Salt Lake, Courtesy Pixabay, Filio (Tom) contributor
The Great Salt Lake
Courtesy Pixabay, Filio (Tom) contributor

Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock, Courtesy and Copyright Jack Greene, photographer Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock
Courtesy & © Jack Greene, photographer

Utah Youth Environmental Solutions (UYES), Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock, Courtesy and Copyright Jack Greene, photographer Utah Youth Environmental Solutions (UYES)
Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock
Courtesy & © Jack Greene, photographer

Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock, Courtesy and Copyright Jack Greene, photographer Great Salt Lake Countdown Clock
Courtesy & © Jack Greene, photographer

Native and Youth Voices Honoring the Great Salt Lake Event November 11, 2023 Courtesy and Copyright Jack Greene, photographer Native and Youth Voices Honoring the Great Salt Lake Event November 11, 2023
Courtesy & © Jack Greene, photographer

Brine Shrimp Art at the Native and Youth Voices Honoring the Great Salt Lake Event November 11, 2023 Courtesy and Copyright Jack Greene, photographer Brine Shrimp Art at the Native and Youth Voices Honoring the Great Salt Lake Event November 11, 2023
Courtesy & © Jack Greene, photographer

On October 28th, we gathered near the Salt Aire on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. A sharp, cold wind kept us huddled. We walked nearly a half mile of mud flats on a path strewn with eared grebe carcasses to reach our destination, a giant, 7-foot clock. The clock displayed four different scenarios of our future based on various lake levels. At the 12 O’clock hour was 4200’, the ideal lake level for healthy waters to support brine shrimp, brine flies, and microbialites, all essential for the millions of birds that feast on them; and to cover the toxic dusts generated by a dry lake bed.

A youth driven event, they poured out their hearts and deep concerns with eloquent testimony for the lake’s diminished health, which translated to their health. The dead grebes were a grim reminder of what the lake has become from the Jordan, Weber, and especially the Bear River being diverted to serve human demands.

Two weeks later, a mixed assemblage of Native and youth gathered on our state capitol steps accompanied by Making Waves for the Great Salt Lake human sized brine shrimp puppets, musicians, and a phalarope dancing to exquisite poetry, to deliver their offerings honoring the Lake. Several tribal members, including Shoshone and Goshute, shared stories of their deep history and cultural connections. Youth representing the Utah Youth for Environmental Solutions and the Great Salt Lake Youth Coalition offered soul piercing words.

Two Saturday’s ago, I entered Westminster University Gore Hall greeted by youth, artists, organizations, and many seniors. Brine shrimp, brine fly, eared grebes, avocets and California gull puppets decorated walls and tables, representing a few of the hundreds of species that call the Great Salt Lake home, or a nice stopover as they wing their way around the globe.

The 4-hour youth led event was hosted by the Westminster Great Salt Lake Institute and lead by several youth organizations and various supporting groups. Many had attended our rally on the capitol steps. This amalgam of intergenerational individuals working on behalf of saving the Great Salt Lake ecosystem was heartening, and essential for the lake to continue on.

We were trained on how best to effect good policy with our Utah legislators through building positive relationships and preparing well researched and documented information to educate them on our interests. Another Rally is planned for Saturday, January 20th at 3 pm on the south steps of the Capitol. Many voices will be heard, including Ute tribal member Forest Cuche, many youth, and Utah author, Terry Tempest Williams.

Looking ahead, Salt Lake City may once again host the winter Olympics in 2034. May our internationally renowned Great Salt Lake be present to welcome them, and may our snow be white and bright, not brown and gone, from a covering of dust blown from an empty lake bed.

A few Secret Santa Ideas for the Great Salt Lake: write, text, or call your elected officials; make art about the lake and post it on social media; Perhaps most important, enjoy the many gifts our Great Lake offers, especially the millions of wings that grace our heavens!

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I’m wild about our wild and wonderful Great Lake!

Credits:

Images: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/author/jack/

McCormick, John S., Saltair, Utah History Encyclopedia, 1994, Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement, https://historytogo.utah.gov/saltair/

Utah youth march with giant clock in support of Great Salt Lake bill, ABC4-TV, Oct 28, 2023

Join the Vigil for Great Salt Lake, happening EVERY DAY of the 2024 Legislative Session at the Utah State Capitol from 8-9 am and 5-6 pm:
Great Salt Lake 2024 Daily Vigil, Walk with the Waves 8-9 am, Tue Jan 16, 2024 – Fri Mar 1, 2024, Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Artist Collaborative, https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/113888296054/false#/invitation
Celebrate the Lake Species! 5-6 pm, Tue Jan 16, 2024 – Fri Mar 1, 2024, Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Artist Collaborative, https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/82319992083/false#/invitation

Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Artist Collaborative, https://sarahlizmay.com/making-waves-for-great-salt-lake-artist-collaborative

Lake Art from the Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Artist Collaborative, Supported in part by Great Salt Lake Audubon and Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/lake-art-puppets/

Utah Youth Environmental Solutions (UYES), https://utahyes.org/

Write to your legislators: https://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

Grow the Flow, Conserve Utah Valley, https://growtheflowutah.org/

  • Secret Santa for Great Salt Lake (Courtesy Nathan Thompson, GrowTheFlowUtah.org, Dec 12, 2023)
  • Invite someone new to get involved with helping Great Salt Lake
  • Donate to an organization working to save Great Salt Lake
  • Write to your elected officials about Great Salt Lake
  • Express gratitude for the lake in prayer and/or conversation
  • Make art about the lake and post it on social media
  • Turn off sprinklers
  • Contact local churches or other organizations about decreasing turf in public/shared spaces

Mundane to Magical

Mundane to Magical: Whole Class at First Dam, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer
Whole Class at First Dam
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Using Binoculars to Look for Ducks, Courtesy & Copyright  Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer Using Binoculars to Look for Ducks
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Spotting Scope with Image Transmitter, Courtesy & Copyright  Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer Spotting Scope with Image Transmitter
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

One aspect of experiential learning I love most is how it turns mundane encounters into magical experiences. How many times have your children walked by a pond full of ducks and geese without batting an eye, or shuffled their feet through fallen, Autumn leaves on their way to this or to that? I continue to be astonished by how much there is to appreciate and to learn from our surroundings, but we lend it a bit of our attention and wonder. It’s amazing to see how just a little preparatory investigation can turn fleeting everyday moments into lifelong learning memories.

My 2nd-grade class focuses on learning about birds. I don’t just mean we read a few books and discuss the basics of birds. I mean my students can replicate the sounds of at least 15 local birds, provide detailed descriptions of their body characteristics, and even provide information about their diet, habits, and behaviors. We’ve studied birds all year long, partnered with local bird organizations – Bridgerland Audubon Society, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge –, been on numerous birding outings, and let’s just say are ALL IN on birding.

With the recent weather systems and cold fronts in Northern Utah, we’ve seen waterfowl migrations come alive; a perfect time to study that classification of birds with my students! Little did I, or my students, realize there was so much to learn about common waterfowl! Did you know some waterfowl dive for food and others dabble? Did you know about preening to keep waterproof, or special down feathers to keep warm? How about your knowledge on a Redhead Duck’s nest parasitism techniques? Well, my students learned about these things, and many more over the span of a few weeks. As a culminating event, we planned a field experience to Logan’s 1st Dam, a local and vibrantly busy park, which surrounds a small reservoir, and is about a 45-minute walk from our school’s front door. Many of my students have been to this park numerous times throughout their lives with their families. Needless to say, there is nothing novel about this location.

Armed with binoculars leant by the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and a spotting scope with an image transmitter granted us by Bridgerland Audubon Society, students began to observe, count, and be astonished by what they saw. It was as if the students had never seen a Canada Goose or Mallard duck in their lives. Their background knowledge on these birds brought to life the mundane place they were experiencing, as kids shouted “Look, it’s dabbling!” or “I saw 15 drakes and 19 hens, that’s 34 total!” or “I bet that Redhead is trying to find someone else’s nest to lay her eggs!” The point here is that, with proper prior investigation and attention to details of place, a mundane park can become a treasured location for observing, questioning, and astonishment. What are some mundane experiences around you that could become inspiring and magical learning opportunities?

This is Dr. Joseph Kozlowski, and I am Wild about Outdoor Education in Utah!
Credits:

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer, Used by Permission
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections/kevin-colver
Text:     Joseph Kozlowski, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Joseph Kozlowski & Lyle Bingham

Additional Reading:

Joseph (Joey) Kozlowski’s pieces on Wild About Utah:

Rosenberg, Ken, Choosing a Spotting Scope, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2008, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/scope-quest-2008-our-review-of-spotting-scopes/?pid=1039

How To Choose Binoculars: Our Testing Tips, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Updated December 4, 2022, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/six-steps-to-choosing-a-pair-of-binoculars-youll-love/

Free K-12 Lessons Open Doors for Kids to Explore Nature and Science, Cornell Lab Annual Report 2023, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Updated December 4, 2022, https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/free-k-12-lessons-open-doors-for-kids-to-explore-nature-and-science/

’Tis the Season for Counting Birds, and We Hope You Will Give it a Try!

Cardinal in Snow Courtesy Pixabay
Cardinal in Snow
Courtesy Pixabay
(A Very Rare Bird in Logan. However reported to eBird in 2010, Ivins, UT.)

Cache Valley (Logan) Utah Circle, 124th Annual Christmas Bird Count, Visit BridgerlandAudubon.org Cache Valley (Logan) Utah Circle
December 16, 2023
124th Annual Christmas Bird Count
67th Local Bird Count
Visit BridgerlandAudubon.org

Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb 16-19, 2024, Courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology & Bird Canada, Sponsors, GBBC Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb 16-19, 2024
Courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology & Bird Canada, Sponsors, GBBC. For more information visit BridgerlandAudubon.org

Count Winter Feeder Birds for Science, Project FeederWatch, Short-eared Owl, Courtesy Project FeederWatch, Walt Cochran, Photographer Count Winter Feeder Birds for Science
Project FeederWatch
Short-eared Owl, Courtesy Project FeederWatch, Walt Cochran, Photographer
For more information visit BridgerlandAudubon.org

The National Audubon Society invites novice and expert bird watchers to participate in the Annual Christmas Bird Count. This is an opportunity to contribute to a long-standing tradition of inviting everyone to play a role in Conservation by observing and counting birds.

The Christmas Bird Count is an annual 24 hour bird survey which takes place in pre-designated 15-mile diameter Watch Circles between December 14 and January 5. Participation is free, but pre-registration is required.

Dedicated bird lovers face the elements for a full day of trekking and observing along familiar routes, in organized teams, following mapping protocols and a daylong commitment, but anyone who lives inside a Watch Circle can stay cozy inside observing birds through the windows.

It’s important to remember that time spent watching is counted – the total effort is counted even if there are zero birds observed. And, if you think you spotted a rare bird, be sure to take photos for confirmation. Birds will linger longer where they can perch and shelter in trees and shrubs, and especially if they find treats such as Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, White Proso Millet, suet, and of course, fresh clean water!

Whether or not you live in or near a Christmas Bird Count Watch Circle, be sure to mark your calendar for the mid-February Great Backyard Bird Count, which is an easy event for everyone everywhere, and only requires participants to count birds in their own backyard for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish).

In fact, when it comes to counting birds, every day can indeed be like Christmas, with the option to use the eBird smartphone app developed by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, allowing birdwatchers to log their data directly into a growing searchable database.

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is a prime example of how everyday observations from first-time volunteers and experts alike can make a big difference in understanding changing patterns in our world. One advantage of the staggered schedules is that you are welcome to participate in as many circles as you wish.

Find out more about watch circle events near you, including early morning Owling, and After School and pre-count Scouting Bird Walks. For more information visit BridgerlandAudubon.org, that’s Bridgerland A-U-D-U-B-O-N dot org.

I’m Hilary Shughart with the Bridgerland Audubon Society and I am Wild About Utah, and Wild About the roughly 100 species documented in our Annual Christmas Bird Count in Cache Valley since 1955!

Credits:
Images: Red Cardinal, Courtesy Pixabay
    Cache Valley (Logan), Count Circle, Courtesy Bryan Dixon, 2015
    Great Backyard Bird Count Courtesy BirdCount.org, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon, and Birds Canada
    FeederWatch Courtesy BirdCount.org, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections/kevin-colver and Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio
Text: Hilary Shughart, President, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Additional Reading: Hilary Shughart and Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

WildAboutUtah pieces by Hilary Shughart, https://wildaboututah.org/author/hilary-shughart/

Utah Birds list of Regional Christmas Bird Counts

Worldwide Christmas Bird Count Map, Zoom in to locate the closest to you, National Audubon, https://gis.audubon.org/christmasbirdcount/

Bridgerland Audubon CBC Toolkit https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/cache-valley-christmas-bird-count/

National Audubon Data: Annual Summaries of the Christmas Bird Count, 1901-Present https://www.audubon.org/content/american-birds-annual-summary-christmas-bird-count

Tips from eBird on How to count large flocks of birds:
“Big numbers of Moving Birds. Their are two ways to count large flocks of moving birds: either by blocking off a group of individuals, counting them, and then extrapolating to the whole of the flock; or by counting birds per unit of time.”
Team eBird, Bird Counting 101, eBird is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://ebird.org/news/counting-101/

General Tips for Bird Identification:
Mayntz, Melissa, Bird Bill Parts, The Spruce, Updated on 08/01/22, https://www.thespruce.com/bird-bill-parts-387362

Project FeederWatch: November-April
Project FeederWatch Background on BridgerlandAudubon.org: https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/birding-tools/birding-events/project-feederwatch/
FeederWatch.org, the official site: https://www.feederwatch.org/

The Great Backyard BirdCount, February 16-19, 2024
GBBC Background on BridgerlandAudubon.org: https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/birding-tools/birding-events/great-backyard-bird-count/
BirdCount.org, the official site: https://www.birdcount.org/

eBird Resources
eBird Background & Reports on BridgerlandAudubon.org: https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/birding-tools/ebird/
eBird Resources: https://ebird.org/about/resources
eBird.org site: https://ebird.org/

When Farm Meets Forest

When Farm Meets Forest: A Herd of Sheep Near Hardware Ranch Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
A Herd of Sheep Near Hardware Ranch
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Pyrenean Mountain Sheep Dog Near Mendon Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Pyrenean Mountain Sheep Dog
Near Mendon
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Last week, while driving along the western edge of Cache Valley just north of Mendon, I saw a huge herd of sheep complete with a sheepherder’s hut. I slammed on the breaks and jumped out with my camera to catch a few pictures of this rippling river of white. As I approached, a big beautiful white stepped out of the flock. This sheepdog was on the job, protecting the flock from any intruders. As we took a long look at each other, I remembered the story of a similar dog who made quite a splash in the local news 20 years ago.

In this story, a Bear Lake resident, Jimmy Stone, spotted a white Pyrenean in Logan Canyon, and got to worrying if it was lost. He started taking daily trips up the canyon to fill a bowl with dog food and tasty treats. The dog came down to eat the food, but would not leave the area. Jimmy hiked up a nearby ridge, and with the help of his binoculars, discovered the dog’s secret: This loyal guardian dog was sticking with 3 lost sheep. Hoping to lure all 4 off the mountain, Jimmy dropped off a bale of hay. The sheep did not come own, so the dog carried the hay up the hillside – bit by bit. Jimmy dropped off branches of crispy apples. The dog carried them up. The sheep were not coming down, and the dog was not leaving without them. Winter snow arrived. Jimmy bought out all the corn dogs at a local convenience store and threw them like tiny footballs up to the dog. More snowstorms arrived. It was time to ask for help. Search and Rescue showed up immediately with snowmobiles and sleds. This story has a happy ending as the search and rescue team managed to get the dog and the sheep safely off the mountain.

Meanwhile, back on the side of the road north of Mendon, I found out this huge herd of sheep had spent the summer in the mountains above Hardware Ranch. They had been brought here by trucks and were now gleaning a local farmer’s alfalfa fields. Soon the trucks would return to take them to Nevada to spend the winter.

How different this huge herd was from the early pioneer days in Mendon when most people only owned a family milk cow and a few smaller animals. It was the job of the local “herd boy” to gather the milk cows and take them up the mountain to graze during the day. Apparently taking the cows home was the easy part of this job. Each cow knew exactly where she lived and would peel off the group at their own garden gate.

Unfortunately, over time, as the livestock populations increased, the Mendon mountain got severely overgrazed. Each rainstorm would send rocks and mud crashing down the steep slopes. Trying to persuade the town council to get the livestock off the mountain and let the vegetation recover, John O Hughes made a bold move. During a council meeting, he took his glass of water and dumped half of it over the head of a bald man. Everyone watched in stunned silence as the water rolled right off the bald head and soaked the man’s shirt. Hughes then dumped the rest of the water onto a man with a bushy head of hair. This man’s shirt stayed dry. That settled the debate.

To this day, the Mendon mountain is green and wooded. It’s nothing short of a hiker’s paradise.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:

Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers.
Featured Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections, Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio upr.org and Courtesy & Copyright © Anderson, Howe, Wakeman
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Great Pyrenees, Dog Breed Profile, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees

Stone, Jim, Stone, Karen, The Legend of BIG BOY Safe or Stranded: An Account of a Real Life Living Legend, Balboa Press, January 7, 2021, https://www.amazon.com/Legend-BIG-BOY-Safe-Stranded/dp/1982260386

Kent, Steve, Dog who refused to abandon sheep in Logan remembered in book, The Associated Press, January 23, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/sheep-canyons-utah-dogs-logan-5a2db87b1fd300b1b39d0de3885ea5eb

“Six hikes are detailed in the Wellsville Mountains above and west of Mendon”
Wallace, David, Cache Hikers 2023, Bridgerland Audubon Society, 2023, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/product/cache-trails/