On Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, Commissioner Dan Esty, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Steward Hudson, newly appointed Vice President & Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society hosted a “Commissioner in your Corner” event to celebrate New Haven’s Urban Oases for Birds and Wildlife.
The event took place at the Barnard Nature Center, West River Memorial Park, Parks and Recreation, City of New Haven and was hosted locally by New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees and the Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School. The whole idea is centered on the notion that there are local wildlife oases in largely urban environments that are critical to wildlife, but will also benefit mankind.
These oases if fully understood can be managed both to provide critical support for wildlife and opportunities for positive interactions with the surrounding humanity. One only has to look at a satellite image of the North East United States at night to see an almost solid blanket of lights from Washington, DC to Portland, Maine, extending out to Chicago in the west. Imagine a night flying migrant bird headed north to their breeding grounds in the spring. When daylight comes, that tired and hungry migrant, now over New Haven, needs to stop flying and find a safe place to spend the day and feed to gain energy for another flight that night. The West River Memorial Park, may be the stopping point, and for the bird and fellow migrants who rest and feed there, that Urban Oases is not just a nice place, but provides a refuge for a day that is a matter of life and death.
“Audubon is thrilled to be working with our partners in New Haven to improve habitats in urban green spaces for migrating birds. As migrating birds find themselves over the heavily developed New Haven landscape, these sites will serve as valuable stopovers to ensure they can still find the shelter and food required to complete their long migratory journeys.” ~ Patrick Comins, Director Bird Conservation, National Audubon Connecticut.
Officials from the region and state of Connecticut attended this wonderful event.
Audubon Connecticut’s Urban Oases program in New Haven, is part of a new, nation wide Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative which is led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System Internet page on this topic says this about the initiative: “With 80 percent of the U.S. population currently residing in urban communities, the challenge to ensure our natural resources are conserved and valued by the American people has become even more complex….To ensure that we nurture a new conservation constituency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must promote strategies to engage these audiences in meaningful, collaborative ways that build sustainable, broad–based support for the mission.”
“In a major effort to connect city dwellers to nature, the National Wildlife Refuge System has created an Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative and is establishing seven pilot urban wildlife refuge partnerships this year.”
“The pilot partnerships allow the Service to work with key community organizations that have been active in wildlife conservation and can help set the stage for expanding the nation’s conservation constituency.”
One of the Pilot programs is: “Creating Urban Oasis in New Haven Harbor Watershed. This Connecticut project will create a network of wildlife–friendly habitat oases and habitat improvements in municipal parks, schoolyards, vacant lots and units of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.”
The events of the day included presentations, hands on learning, Q & A sessions. While the wildlife refuge side of this project is harder to illustrate, the positive human side of these efforts are extremely evident from the events of this day.
“What’s amazing to witness in the work being done in New Haven is that Audubon Connecticut, and the partners we work with, are doing cutting edge conservation work—the kind that teaches a diversity of young students, and the adults in their community, what it means to connect people and nature, in this case in a section of the Elm City that contains some unrecognized natural beauty. Not only is their work being done to preserve what is beautiful in this community, but it also provides the chance for young people to learn valuable skills, all of which will be important in their lives and in ways that should help them find meaningful employment opportunities in the growing green economy. And all of this is symbolized by one enduring memory—watching a young student from the Barnard School Environmental Studies Magnet school look with knowledge, pride, and affection at the osprey nests in the West River, and the green space that they have created and nurture together with their teachers, project partners, and Audubon Connecticut.” ~ Stewart J. Hudson, Vice President and Executive Director, National Audubon Connecticut.
Dan Esty, Commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection established “Commissioner in Your Corner” in 2011 to showcase Connecticut’s natural resources through community meetings and to answer questions on how the state is protecting the environment. Held a Q & A session with students from New Haven’s Common Ground High School.
“Great location for my recent ‘Commissioner in your Corner’ at West River Memorial Park, New Haven,” said Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “It was an enjoyable afternoon visiting there – first to see the fifth graders participate in bird related activities, then meeting with high school students at a live bird demonstration by Audubon Sharon and learning about what a special place New Haven and the park is with all that it provides for visitors from the area and far away. This beautiful location along the West River showcases natural resources and birds in an urban setting,” added Commissioner Esty.”
The extensive partnerships with over a dozen local, regional and national organizations actively participating, received major funding from nine diverse and all this did not happen overnight. These efforts at the local level were effectively brought together by Audubon Connecticut. Here is the funder’s and partner’s support list.
If your interested in Part 2. Audubon Connecticut’s Urban Oases Recongized by USFWS