The beaches and salt marshes of the Atlantic Coast of the United States are of vital importance to a wide range of birds. Coastal habitats are especially vulnerable to development in this heavily populated part of the country. Global warming and sea-level rise are other looming threats to coastal habitat. Audubon’s successful beach stewardship programs, which enlist chapters, members, and local volunteers to help protect beach-nesting sites, provide a powerful and practical solution. By engaging more communities up and down the coast, we can create a web of protection. Audubon currently has active stewardship programs at 210 sites in the Atlantic Flyway. The sites include approximately 350 miles of coast and more than 100,000 acres of habitat.
In 2014 Audubon defended coastal birds and critical habitats against serious threats from coastal engineering projects, habitat loss, and excessive disturbances. In North Carolina, Audubon defended Cape Hatteras National Seashore from a serious legislative threat that would have overturned a balanced, science-based management plan currently in place and could have set a bad precedent for other sites managed by the National Park Service. And in Florida, Audubon successfully appealed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to create the first new Critical Wildlife Area established in Florida since 1994.
Theory of Victory: Audubon can restore populations of eight priority species through stewardship, habitat maintenance, and threat abatement at key breeding, migration, and non-breeding coastal sites used throughout the annual cycle across the flyway.
Well loved and heavily used, western beaches and rocky intertidal zones are also home to some of the most vulnerable Pacific Flyway species, including the Black Oystercatcher, Western Snowy Plover, and California Least Tern. As development pressure continues to grow, precious shore habitats are vital not only for conservation but also because they provide an opportunity to help people understand how their own actions can help birds and wildlife.
Building on innovative and successful stewardship by Audubon California and coastal chapters, our multi-pronged approach combines on-the-ground protection with successful outreach programs aimed at increasing the number and diversity of breeding and wintering sites. In the process, we are also protecting numerous other migratory shorebirds that rely on shoreline areas during winter and migration.
Theory of Victory: Audubon will protect key coastal species throughout their lifetimes and migration cycles by restoring and conserving dynamic beach dune habitat for nesting birds, and by reducing disturbance and minimizing threats during migration and winter.