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Eagle Festival offers opportunity to see, learn about nature


Christopher Andersson

Sarvey Wildlife Care Center volunteer Robert Lee with one of the center's eagles at the Arlington City Council chambers at the 10th annual Eagle Festival on Feb. 4.

As winter wanes and eagles return to the Stilly Valley, the city of Arlington and other organizations celebrated with the 10th annual Eagle Festival, held on Feb. 3 and 4 this year.

The festival from the city, the Stillaguamish Tribe, the Arlington Arts Council, Arlington Youth Dynamics and others provides a way for locals to learn about nature and see eagles up close.

One of the most popular parts of the festival is the live eagles that the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center brings for people to see up close.

Families learn to appreciate the birds better when they can see them up close, said Bill Blake, storm water manager for the city of Arlington and one of the organizers of the event.

"They love seeing the wild birds up close. They can talk about them, learn about them," he said.

"I like just seeing the people's faces light up when they see the wildlife," he said.

Local Ben Struble said the eagles were the main reason he wanted to go to the festival.

"This is the whole reason I came out here," he said. "These birds are our national emblem and I fight under the eagle," he said.

Nature walks provided by the Pilchuck Audubon Society and others also provide a chance to see eagles and other birds out in the wild as well.

Blake said that the group saw a couple of eagles on the walk on Feb. 4.

Festival-goers also have a chance to learn about good stewardship from the many environmental groups that come down.

"People are always learning about pesticides and oils on this stormwater model and they say 'really, I'm not supposed to do that?'" said Blake. "If you use pesticides or herbicides that kills the bugs that are in the creek, and then the salmon can't eat the bugs and we can't eat the salmon," he said.

Although most people are willing to change their behavior once they know it's damaging, he said.

"If you tell them the right thing they'll do it, it's just sometimes they don't know what the right thing is," he said.

The festival allows families to learn a lot about the environment around them."It's awesome. We homeschool, so this is right in line for what we're learning about right now. It's perfect timing for us," said local parent Amanda Farens.

Sarah Arney

Elias Miller is the first-place winner in the youth category at the Rock, Paper, Scissors Art Show presented by Arlington Arts Council during Arlington's Stillaguamish Eagle Festival Saturday, Feb. 4.

Other groups provide outreach and help educate the public, like Sound Salmon Solutions, a local group that supports salmon recovery through educational programs in schools and restoring habitat sites, said Kelly Bounxayavong, an intern at the organization.

She said it was good for the local organization to get out into the community and also enjoyed many aspects of the festival.

"I saw the wood carvings and I thought it was pretty cool," she said, referring to the chainsaw carvers that make wood sculptures by Legion Park for the festival.

Some of the events in the festival got snowed in because of weather issues, but most of the exhibits were there for a day of only slight drizzle, said Blake.

He said he enjoys the event because it helps people get a better understanding of local wildlife.

"Somebody has to speak for the animals, because they don't have any voice," he said. "Growing up here all my life and I see the habitat get smaller and smaller and if we don't keep some of that habitat they're not going to have a place to live," he said.


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