Guest Post: LIS Citizens Summit–Time to Speak for Birds and Wildlife!

Sandy Breslin, Director of Governmental Affairs at Audubon Connecticut, talks about the importance of speaking out for the birds at the Long Island Sound Citizens Summit on Friday in the next post of our series.

You can check out the previous post by David Miller and the introductory post here. And please join us at the 23rd Annual LIS Citizen Summit!

Great Blue Heron. Photo Credit Kierran Broatch
Great Blue Heron. Photo Credit Kierran Broatch

It’s spring and for Long Island Sound that means birds and other wildlife are on the move. More than 400 species of birds have been observed on or near the Sound. That’s a remarkable number for a state as small as ours and a testament to Connecticut’s prime location along the Atlantic Flyway, the avian superhighway used by birds during spring and fall migration.

Each night, hundreds of thousands of songbirds – rivers of birds – are streaming overhead using the moon and stars to navigate to nesting grounds in the north.  They depend on habitats on or near LIS for a place to rest and refuel before continuing their journeys.  An amazing 17 out of the 27 Important Bird Areas identified by Audubon in Connecticut are on or near the Sound – some hosting globally significant populations of birds.

Birds like the federal and state listed Piping Plover and Least Tern are among the state’s earliest beach goers. They are already preparing their nests and laying eggs. Volunteer stewards with the Audubon Alliance work each day to monitor and safeguard these vulnerable birds.  Follow their exploits on Facebook.

Fish are on the move too.  Tens of thousands of alewives are retracing their steps to upstream spawning grounds, thanks in large part to efforts like Save the Sound’s fish passage project at Bride Brook in Rocky Neck State Park.

Volunteers planting at Bride Brook, one of our habitat restoration sites. Photo credit Robert Lorenz.
Volunteers planting at Bride Brook, one of our habitat restoration sites. Photo credit Robert Lorenz.

And in May and June when the moon is full, Horseshoe Crabs, our living fossils, will lumber up on our beaches to lay their eggs, a dance they have been doing for millions of years.  Did you know that CT DEEP has declared three of Connecticut’s beaches as Horseshoe Crab Sanctuaries?  Check out Section 26-159a-17(g) of DEEP’s regulations for Marine Commercial and Sport Fishing.

Living marine resources such as fish, shellfish, waterfowl and coastal birds are a vital part of the estimated $9.8 billion that Long Island Sound pumps into our regional economy each year. These creatures depend on clean water, healthy habitats and caring beachgoers willing to share the shores with them safely. And they are facing threats.

That’s where you come in.

It is citizens like you who make the difference when it comes to protecting and restoring the Sound.  Birds and fish can’t speak for themselves, but you can.

In 1990, Listen to the Sound gathered input at public hearings to set the agenda for EPA’s first ever Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) focused on clean water. In 2000, another set of Listen to the Sound hearings spurred EPA’s LIS Stewardship Initiative and passage of the LIS Stewardship Act of 2006, which authorizes up to $25 million each year and helps support EPA’s National Fish and Wildlife Foundation LIS Futures Fund.  In 2011 SoundVision laid out a bold citizen action agenda for the Sound.

This year, the EPA is updating the LIS CCMP – the first time since the plan was created in 1994! On Friday, April 24th, the 2014 LIS Citizens Summit will provide a forum for us to speak out on what we think are the important issues facing birds, wildlife, and Long Island Sound.

So please join me at the Citizens Summit —if you haven’t yet registered to attend, you can do so here!  It’s our time to speak out for the birds and wildlife of Long Island Sound!

Check out the CCMP update on Facebook and don’t forget to take everyday actions to help create bird and Sound friendly communities!

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