COVID-19 And The Last Beached Bird Survey?

So just what are we to do with our citizen-science projects when COVID-19 derails the best-laid plans?

Last Beached Bird Survey

This March we headed back out to La Push and the Olympic National Park to conduct our monthly COASST beached bird survey. This time of the year, you never know what kind of weather you’ll encounter, but it looked like Mother Nature was going to give us a break. We had perfect weather for the survey; cool and sunny.

What we weren’t counting on was how quickly the COVID-19 virus was going to spread through the Puget Sound corridor of Washington and the impact it would ultimately have on families and businesses in our area…and the impact on the various science projects we participate with.

I might have taken a little more time to savor this special ‘wild place’ had I known it was going to be the last survey for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t until we were on the long drive home that we started hearing about the closures in our state. As the day went on the list grew longer and longer.

By the end of that week, I was furloughed and as I write this it’s uncertain when I’ll be resuming my role as Senior Database Administrator. Things are looking up as the projected peak has been slowly shifting to the left and, at least for Washington State, seems to have passed. That’s the good news, but it’s to be seen how long the ‘shelter-at-home’ will be active.

timber tracking

The Timber Tracking Project, was originally all set to go forward this spring, but we all know what happened instead; collecting was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, permits have been cleared for this summer and we’ll be out sampling practicing the best kind of social distancing. Now it’s all about looking at topo maps and choosing collection zones. Follow our updates from the field on twitter.

COVID-19

There doesn’t seem much need to go in all the details of this virus as there’s plenty of news being thrown at us from all directions. But what do we know about this virus and how can we as citizen-scientists help combat it?

Here’s a link to Coronavirus 101: What you need to know.

It has stopped our going out into the field as that would require us interacting with people in a support role to get to the backcountry. And here in Washington public lands are currently closed.

But that doesn’t mean we can contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Here are some sites where you can use this time at home to help solve this crisis:

 

So just what are we to do with our citizen-science projects when COVID-19 derails the best-laid plans?

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Uncertain Future

It’s hard to tell when we’ll be able to resume our projects. Long before the ‘shelter-at-home’ order went into effect we decided to halt our trips. There were three major factors that weighed in our decision;

  1. We were in the high-risk age bracket.
  2. Although we would be isolated while in the back-country, we would have to interact with people during supplies runs, fueling, etc. It seemed irresponsible to subjecting ourselves and others.
  3. It seemed disrespectful to the health caregivers who risked their lives and suffering such hardships while we continued doing what we loved.

Currently, it looks like our state has a projected 0-death day around May 10th. With any luck, life will start to return to normal shortly thereafter. When it does will be back out there doing what we can to contribute to science and conservation.

Stay healthy and safe everyone!

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