Date: 10/23/18 8:07 am From: Patrick Comins via CTBirds <ctbirds...> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Northeast Region NWR proposed Boardwalk at Stewart B McKinney Great Meadow Stratford
Thank you Craig: I just wrote the following letter to Director Weber on behalf of the Connecticut Audubon Society. I hope everyone who birds this area will follow suit:
I hope all is well with you. It has come to our attention that the Service is considering installing a boardwalk at the Great Meadows Unit of the Stewart B McKinney Refuge in Stratford. The Connecticut Audubon Society strongly supports this proposal. The Great Meadows Unit of the McKinney Refuge is a natural treasure in the highly urbanized landscape of Fairfield County. To improve public access to this area, which simultaneously protecting the sensitive plant resources that occur here would greatly enhance the opportunity for the public to connect to the National Wildlife Refuge System in Connecticut. It is particularly important from a public access perspective in light of its proximity to Connecticut's largest city, Bridgeport.
We greatly appreciate the increased access that has already been provided through Rick Potvin's leadership of the Refuge in the past few years. The area in question would greatly enhance the nature experience available to residents of the Milford/Stratford/Bridgeport area. I had the good fortune of doing bird surveys in this area when I worked for as a biological technician for the Connecticut Audubon Society and McKinney Refuge in the 1990's and to this day some of my best birding experiences in Connecticut have been from this place and time. You never knew what you would find flitting around the wet woodland on a spring or fall morning.
While there are many places to observe birds in migration in Connecticut, this particular trail will always be a special and unique place because its function as a habitat oasis in a highly suburbanized landscape. Few other places that I am aware of offer the opportunity to see eye-level views of species such as Cerulean, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers, or Scarlet Tanagers fly catching inches from your head, a Sedge Wren flitting in the reeds, Long-billed Dowitchers or Stilt Sandpipers foraging in a drying pond in the fall or Least Bitterns sitting motionless at the edge of the water awaiting their next meal. It is truly a special place and one which the Connecticut Audubon Society looks forward to more fully utilizing as a tool to inspire more people to conserve the nature of Connecticut in the Future. I sincerely hope this comes to pass. Thank you so much for the opportunity to provide input to this very important process.
Founded in 1898 and representing more than 7,000 members statewide the Connecticut Audubon Society is an independent organization that conserves Connecticut's environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state's bird populations and habitats.
Patrick M. Comins Executive Director, The Connecticut Audubon Society
314 Unquowa Road Fairfield, CT 06824 203-259-0416 x107 www.ctaudubon.org Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
-----Original Message----- From: CTBirds [mailto:<ctbirds-bounces...>] On Behalf Of Craig Repasz via CTBirds Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2018 9:28 AM To: '<ctbirds...>' <ctbirds...> Subject: [CT Birds] Northeast Region NWR proposed Boardwalk at Stewart B McKinney Great Meadow Stratford
Hello We have received some exciting news, the Northeast Region of the National Wildlife Refuge System is considering installing a boardwalk at the Great Meadows Unit of the Stewart B McKinney Refuge in Stratford. This boardwalk will start at the current barricade just beyond Warehouse Pond and extend out into the marsh giving views of Long Beach and the salt marsh. This area protects a rare plant species and is barricaded to keep foot traffic and ATVs out of the area. The boardwalk will allow for access for birders, people with wheelchairs while prohibiting ATVs.
It is important that Refuge Management hears from Connecticut citizens n support of the proposal. Below is a letter with some talking point you can use in an email to Wendi Weber the Regional Director. Feel free to use it or parts of it at your discretion.
Craig Repasz Friends of Stewart B McKinney Steering Committee Chair
Dear Director Weber The Steering Committee for the Friends of Stewart B McKinney were very pleased to hear that you are considering putting in a boardwalk giving protect access to a sensitive salt marsh area at the Great Meadows Unit in Stratford CT. Great Meadows is a popular destination for birders and nature lovers, not only from Stratford but for people throughout New England and New York. GM is just over the city line from Bridgeport, CT's largest city. This is a truly urban unit of the Refuge, and we could attract very diverse audiences there. Great Meadows was once considered by Roger Tory Peterson as one of the best coastal birding areas in the U.S., with over 270 species. Visitors come to Great Meadows because it is one of the largest remaining wetlands left in CT. The refuge already offers 1.5 miles of trails with viewing platforms and informational panels, open 365 days/year. Refuge management has spent the past three years making minor improvements to the appearance and accessibility of Great Meadows for all visitors. The proposed boardwalk, as we understand, would be designed to allow access while providing excellent habitat protection. It would allow viewing of ponds with potentially different and more diverse wildlife species and it would offer magnificent views of the marsh, Long Beach and the water. We hope there would be ample space and areas for people to set up scopes and cameras. New visitors, not just birders and other traditional users, would be drawn to such an attraction. Previously, illegal ATV use on this trail was prevalent. Opening as a boardwalk would eliminate the ability of ATVs to access it. Furthermore, a boardwalk would take further steps to making this unit of the refuge fully accessible to people in wheelchairs and with other mobility problems. Thank you for the consideration. We hope that this boardwalk becomes a reality.