Audubon in Nevada scored a victory for Nevada’s state bird, the Mountain Bluebird, as well as for many other bird species when the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 108 on May 26, 2009. The new legislation (Nevada Revised Statues 517.030) called for the removal of all PVC posts used as mine claim markers across Nevada. Members of Lahontan Audubon Society’s Conservation Committee worked tirelessly with the Nevada Mining Association, members of the industry, and our legislators starting in 2007 in a cooperative effort to pass the legislation.
For many years, evidence had been mounting that showed the extreme threat to birds posed by these hollow posts. Small-bodied birds mistake the pipe openings as ideal roosting or nesting sites, and happily enter. The smooth sides of the pipe coupled with the narrow diameter spell doom for them, as they are neither able to climb the walls nor extend their wings to fly out.
In 1993, Nevada Law excluded the use of PVC posts from that point forward and required capping of PVC posts already on the landscape. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a permanent solution to protect birds. Caps pop off, and many claims with PVC pipes were abandoned and never capped. Senate Bill 108 changed Nevada law to require replacement and removal of all PVC posts as mine claim markers by November 1, 2011. After that date, claims with PVC posts remaining are considered abandoned, and the PVC posts can legally be removed and placed on the ground adjacent to the location from which they had been buried. Leaving the post on the ground was a compromise that addressed the concerns of the mining industry to mark the claim location and met our goal of eliminating the threat (birds can easily escape from an open post left on the ground).
The work of removing mine claim markers is far from done.
Since November 2011, several post pulling projects have been completed by volunteers of the Nevada's three Audubon Chapters and by other volunteers. A report from the mine Claim Marker Remediation Project from 2012 to 2013 conducted by volunteers with Great Basin Institute over several areas of Nevada removed 32,500 open PVC pipes that contained over 11,000 dead birds. Their report stated that as many as 100,000 open PVC pipes may remain on our Nevada lands. These pipes will continue to kill birds until they fill to the brim with carcasses or are removed. When you are out and about on our Nevada public lands, please remove any PVC plastic posts that you find (and leave them on the ground). You will be saving the lives of many birds.
For information about our Conservation Committee, contact Don Molde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Audubon Society has a full slate of conservation efforts. For more information look here.