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Leadbetter Point

Leadbetter Habitat Restoration Area (LHRA)

Strenuous walking through sand, extremely early starts requiring alarm clocks to jangle at times like 3 a.m., and many hours of mist, rain and wind were rewarded with occasional alternate hours of glorious sun and views of pelicans, eagles, peregrine falcons, and a variety of shorebirds.  Some of us were lucky enough to see Snowy Plovers, both adults and young fluff balls, north of the restoration area in the federal refuge.

 Photo by Ann Musché and Alan Richards
What was it inspired all this activity?  Our chapter continues to cooperate with Grays Harbor Audubon and with state agencies to
create additional habitat at Leadbetter Point for the Western Snowy Plover and the Streaked Horned Lark.  Both of these birds were once more abundant along our coasts.  South of the federal Willapa Wildlife Refuge at the tip of the Long Beach peninsula, within Leadbetter State Park, our effort involves creating and monitoring ten smallish plots which follow the land contours.  Here the exotic, densely-thatch-forming European grasses (brought in originally by humans for erosion control) are being removed and native plants retained and enhanced (by plantings of natives grown from local seed.)

During 2007, Jan McMillan of Grays Harbor Audubon coordinated volunteers in several plant-related work parties at the site.  This year, I am the coordinator of our efforts.  Last year and this, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) hired the talented, encouraging and very knowledgeable expert, Kathy Gunther, part of whose duties is to survey the LHRA for animal activity, especially birds.  Our volunteer efforts this final grant year have shifted to doing surveys along with Kathy, and recently, on our own. Image by Ann Musché and Alan Richards
 
Our March training, conducted by Scott Pearson and Cyndie Sundstrom of WDFW, was detailed, informative, and included field observations.  In May I gave a brief introduction about the project, on the peninsula,  for Nina Carter, executive director of Audubon Washington, and Board of Stewards member, John Narver.  Since then our volunteer group has conducted or helped with one survey in June, two in July and one in August.  

During September we held a work day, in cooperation with Dave Hays of WDFW, to physically cover native plants on the site in preparation for staff to spray herbicide on the exotic beach grasses.  This last was a magnificent day, though my knees told me for many hours afterward just how many dozens of times I had sunk down on them and struggled back up!
 
Many, many thanks to the volunteers who have taken part in our efforts in 2008, often under the adverse conditions described
above:
John and Margaret Green, Carolyn Norred, Tom Finn, Alan Richards and myself from WHAS,  Susan Clark of Shoalwater Birders, and Jan McMillan, Ann Haarer, Carol Sunde, Jan Strong and Diane Schwickerath of Grays Harbor Audubon.
 
Our total was 279 hours donated to this project in 2008!