I’m sitting at my computer on the last day of a year that defies description. I will be glad to see it end. Good things have happened this year, though; it just seems harder to remember them sometimes.

In 2020 the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA passed in 1919) was in jeopardy as the federal government proposed changes that would effectively gut this 100+ year old law. In response the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and other environmental groups as well as thousands of individuals vigorously opposed the changes, putting their opposition into words and public comment. In August, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni issued a ruling striking down the governments opinion that the MBTA did not prohibit “incidental take,” a term for the unintentional but foreseeable and avoidable injury or killing of birds, often through industrial activity. In practical terms, British Petroleum would no doubt not have had to pay for the catastrophe to birds and wild life from the Deep-water Horizon explosion.

This past spring, in our own backyard, the Los Padres Forest from highway 33 to Reyes Peak has been threatened with an extensive logging plan. In information released by the Los Padres Forest Watch “The Forest Service announced plans to selectively log old-growth forest and clear chaparral across 755 acres deep in the Ventura County backcountry. The agency quietly released the proposal in late May amid a pandemic, economic crisis, and period of civil unrest, offering the public a single 30-day period to submit comments. Officials indicated that they hope to use a loophole to approve the project without an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.” The federal government was surprised by the large number of people who took the time to comment on this project and actually extended the public comment period by several months. While this project is still in the works, it is hoped that the incoming administration will actively work to roll back the legal loopholes that threaten an area of such importance as the Los Padres Forest.

As individuals we can and do make a difference. As part of your New Years resolutions this year read the local and national news, write to your congressmen, communicate with your local representatives of governmental agencies, maintain an active watch over what is important to you. It is never enough to say someone else will take care of it.

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