As migratory birds – especially hawks – and Monarch butterflies flew overhead, a large crowd of visitors to the New Haven Migration Festival heard Connecticut DEEP Commissioner announce that Governor Malloy had declared Sunday, September 21, 2014 “Important Bird Area Day” in Connecticut. Klee also announced formation by his agency of an Important Bird Area Advisory Committee that will be chaired by Stewart Hudson, Executive Director, of Audubon Connecticut.
“Bird watching is among the most popular outdoor activities in Connecticut, and it is important to recognize that many species of birds depend heavily on habitat here,” said Governor Malloy. “It is critical that we make decisions in managing our natural resources to best target habitats for birds and other wildlife that also call Connecticut their home.”
The Governor announced Saturday that he is forming a panel of experts that will serve as an advisory committee to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on the creation of an Important Bird Area Program that will include identification and recognition of critical bird habitats and the promotion of bird conservation in the state.
“Working closely with Governor Malloy, DEEP has taken important steps to protect the diversity and health of the bird population of our state,” said DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee. “Formation of this advisory committee will allow us to continue moving forward by focusing our attention on critical lands owned by DEEP that can be designated as Important Bird Areas. In these areas, we can then offer additional protections to birds that make their home or migrate through our state.”
The Important Bird Areas Advisory Committee will be formed within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and will be chaired by Stewart Hudson, Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society whose mission it is to education, science and conservation, citizen engagement and advocacy on behalf of bird, wildlife and habitats.
“When it comes to protecting habitat for birds, just like for people, it’s all about location,” said Hudson. “In Connecticut, there’s no question that many of the most critical habitat locations are owned by the state and managed by DEEP. This has been a longtime priority for Audubon Connecticut and we commend Governor Malloy for stepping up to recognize the ecological value of these lands – some of them globally significant habitat for birds – and look forward to partnering with Commissioner Klee and his staff to identify and steward these Important Bird Areas for the future. The good news is that protecting important places for birds also protects important places for people. Where birds thrive, people prosper,” he added.
Membership will be appointed the Commissioner and shall include but not be limited to:
- Representatives from organizations that have a record of activity in bird conservation or who have an expertise or a recognized knowledge in an area pertinent and valuable to such program
- Members of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- State Ornithologist
- Representatives of the Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Siting Council
- Representatives from local governments
Audubon Connecticut is part of a global initiative to identify habitats that are crucial to birds, called the Important Bird Area Program. This new initiative will focus efforts on DEEP lands
The identification process will provide a data-driven means for cataloging the most important sites for birds throughout the country and the world, and the use of a hierarchical classification system further helps to establish priorities for conservation and natural resource education efforts.
According to Hudson, “The Advisory Council will bring together experts and community members to work w DEEP to ensure that large tracts of forest, shrublands, grasslands, coastal beaches, salt marshes and other unique habitats are still around for nesting, wintering, and migratory birds in the future.”
“Audubon Connecticut has already identified 27 IBAs statewide: eight on state lands like Hammonasset State Park and the Quinnipiac River Tidal Marsh; seven on municipal land like Lighthouse Point; eight on private lands owned by land trusts, Audubon and others; and four on federal. Three areas have combinations of ownership,” he added.
“Working with DEEP and other bird conservation stakeholders will help us to Inventory and prioritize important bird habitats on state lands, promote a strategic, science-based approach to planning future conservation and habitat management activities, focus education, outreach, advocacy, and forest stewardship efforts and build community engagement, leverage efforts to secure funding for monitoring, stewardship & habitat management at IBAs,” stated Hudson. “In addition, it will help support CT’s robust outdoor recreation economy. We rank 6th in the nation in terms of the number of people who care about and watch birds - - whether that’s backyard birder watching out the kitchen window or a dedicated birder who travels all over the state to enjoy the miracle of migration, an estimated 29% of Connecticut residents watch birds.”
Hudson concluded: “We are also honored to be here participating in the New Haven Migration Festival and celebrating the tremendous job the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees does stewarding their lands for people and birds. City parks like Lighthouse Point and East Rock Park are so critical for birds. We look forward to continuing to partner with municipal conservation leaders like Mayor Harp, Parks Commissioner Rebecca Bombero, and her dedicated staff to support their excellent stewardship at places like Lighthouse Point Park.”
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Audubon Contact: Stewart Hudson, Executive Director (203) 980-9471
For photos or other materials: please contact Sandy Breslin, Director of Governmental Affairs, (203) 804-0488.
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Audubon Connecticut saves birds and their habitats throughout Connecticut using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people nationwide each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at: www.audubonct.org