Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Connecticut; President, Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
Connecticut Audubon is a bird organization, so that’s where our primary interest lies, but we are concerned with protecting a variety of wildlife and their habitats through education, research, advocacy and land protection. Through our Important Bird Areas Program, we have identified a network of more than 30 key areas for birds, and we works with landowners, government agencies, and other conservation organizations to restore and protect important bird habitats statewide.
How Connect the Connecticut connects
It’s certainly valuable to have a holistic approach that is also objective so you can better justify why particular areas may be more important than others. Audubon’s own focal areas are derived through processes similar to Connect the Connecticut, but our areas are more selective for birds. We plan to use a combination of the two because it will be useful to have different tiers of information.
How it will inform work on the ground
The design will be be a very useful prioritization tool for us. The representative species models are particularly important, as they give us some predictive ability to determine where our focal species occur. We can’t always get to a site in the breeding season, even if there are species of greatest conservation need present. So the models help get us there.
It’s certainly valuable to have a holistic approach that is also objective so you can better justify why particular areas may be more important than others.
While there are some state important areas that don’t show up in the design, it does cover habitats that we did not previously have within our priority areas. For example, freshwater wetlands. So in those case, we would probably take the design at face value.
Audubon Connecticut has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an initiative called the In Lieu Fee Program, established to provide funding for the restoration, enhancement, and preservation of aquatic habitats and upland buffers in the state. The program receives funding from application fees paid to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for development projects that impact wetlands and watercourses, and Audubon Connecticut works with local, state, and national partners to select and fund large-scale mitigation projects including land acquisition.
For our role deciding when to give to partners additional resources role in the granting process, the Terrestrial Core-Connector Network will be a good lens to evaluation the potential distribution of the funds along with our Important Bird Areas.
Additional information and resources