Audubon Connecticut together with Thomas Madden, Stamford’s Economic Development Director, standing in for Mayor Martin, Stamford Board of Representatives Harry Day and community partners gathered at the Mianus River Park this morning to mark the creation of and officially designate the park’s “Urban Oasis”- a demonstration area providing healthy habitats for wildlife and people.

This effort is part of Audubon Connecticut’s Urban Oases Program- an initiative that is creating a network of habitats across Connecticut’s parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards into quality stopover habitat for millions of migrating songbirds. Audubon knows that where birds thrive, people prosper and these restored habitats bring healthier environments for people, such as buffering the Mianus River- an important drinking water supply for thousands- from stormwater runoff.

The Mianus Urban Oasis restoration project was undertaken by the Friends of Mianus River Park, in partnership with the City of Stamford and Audubon.  The Friends identified the location for restoration, planted the site, and they continue stewarding the area by monitoring site health and improvement. This is one of a number of riverbank restoration projects undertaken by the Friends group in the park, often in partnership with other organizations, including Trout Unlimited, New England Mountain Bike Association, Aquarion Water Company, the City of Stamford, and with scout, school, corporate, and other volunteers. The Friends group has also undertaken numerous other projects and activities in the park, including trail improvements, the recent opening of a Nature Trail, and regular maintenance sessions and hikes. 

The new Urban Oasis will also bring an important message for the hundreds of four-legged visitors (and their owners) to the park- staying on a leash is the best way to share the park. Leashing your dog protects the plants that birds and wildlife need and preserves water quality of the Mianus River.

The Mianus River Park Urban Oasis joins four urban habitats across Stamford- Cove Island Park Wildlife Sanctuary, a state-recognized Important Bird Area and birding hot spot, and schoolyard habitats at Rogers International, Springdale Elementary and Julia A. Stark Schools. Soon, a fifth habitat,  at Hart Elementary School, will add another step for migrating birds and connect people to nature as the school community, with guidance from Audubon’s Schoolyard Habitat Program, gets to work with their habitat plan.

The goal of the Urban Oases Program is to create a more beautiful and livable City for Stamford residents and create a matrix of bird-friendly habitats to enhance biodiversity, improve water quality in the Mianus River and Long Island Sound and increase habitat connectivity across the City.

“As stewards of the environment, we were pleased to assist the Friends of Mianus River Park with the Urban Oasis Project,” said George Logan, Director of Environmental Management & Government Relations for Aquarion Water Company. “Aquarion volunteers performed a number of site work activities in support of this project. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Friends of Mianus River Park, and congratulate Audubon Connecticut and the City of Stamford on the official designation of the park’s Urban Oasis.”

David Roberts, Friends of Mianus River Park said "The Friends of Mianus River Park are delighted to work with Audubon and with other organizations and volunteers to create the Mianus River Park Urban Oasis. The Friends have been working for a number of years to restore and replant riverbank along the Mianus River in the park, and this is the perfect opportunity to work towards that goal, while establishing much needed habitat for migrating birds. We look forward to developing the Oasis and working with Audubon on additional projects in the park in the future."

“The creation of an Urban Oasis at Mianus River Park by Audubon Connecticut, and the dedicated partners, community volunteers, and students we work with, is worth celebrating,” said Stewart Hudson, Executive Director for Audubon Connecticut.  “This Urban Oasis is part of a network of wildlife habitats across Stamford that we and others have created in parks, schools and backyards.  Projects like thisillustrate a core component of Audubon Connecticut’s 21st Century approach to conservation—that what is good for birds is good for people too. It provides the community with places where people can access and connect with nature in meaningful ways.  This Urban Oasis protects the Mianus River, an important drinking water supply source for thousands of residents in Stamford. It provides opportunities for civic engagement, student learning, and community service.”

“I am proud to be associated with this wonderful forest regeneration project.  The creation of an Urban Oasis here at the Mianus River Park will support migratory bird species and other wildlife while showcasing an exemplary native forest structure.   Passersby can see the stark comparison between a neglected, overgrazed forest and an intentional, human integrated landscape.  It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated folks who made this project possible.  Through our efforts, we begin to break down the imaginary lines that our culture has drawn between itself and “nature,” said Sam Billings, Treetops Permaculture Project Manager.

“What’s exciting about Audubon’s Urban Oasis program,” said Erin McKenna, Associate Planner for the City of Stamford, “is that it reminds people that they are a part of the natural environment and that they can support it in their own back yards. The Urban Oasis installations show you which native plants you can use at home to attract resident and migrating birds and the insects they eat.  If enough people did it, we would have a network of native habitats throughout Stamford’s backyards! This generous gift from Audubon Connecticut also serves as an extension of the riverbank restoration installed by the Friends of Mianus River Park in May 2013.  We look forward to partnering with Audubon on more sites like this across the City.”

A short video of about the new Urban Oasis site & dedication event:

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