[CT Birds] Ct endangered species lawsand Cabela's

jaybrd49 at aol.com jaybrd49 at aol.com
Mon Jun 1 21:56:32 EDT 2009


Prior to the construction of Cabela's and the opening of a portion of Rentschler Field, no one was allowed anywhere near this site. The birds were there (and there were many more of them) prior to the transformation of this grassland into a large retail store and parking lot.? No one could see the birds, but we knew they were there. Perhaps things have changed with the advent of this list serv and so many new birders. Certainly, information flows more freely and and at an amazing rate of speed.? I am very pleased that so many people have taken an interest in this issue. However, as one of a small group of individuals who crafted the Connecticut Endangered Species Act, let's review some ancient history from the mid 80s when the legislation was being developed. The members of the committee knew then that the law was toothless when it came to private property. We also knew that this was the best we could do and still allow this legislation any chance of passage. I doubt it would be any different today if one takes a look at how government works. We can complain about things on this site, but that is not going to change anything. So, how can we change things? Writing letters to officials is one good idea.? Below is another. Please read it without taking offense.

In a recent post, Chris Elphick makes an extremely important point when he comments that more birders should get involved in surveys and counts. Sure it might be more exciting to look for a rarity along the coast rather than participate in a breeding bird survey or Christmas Bird Count inland. What that will not do, however, is add to our knowledge of population trends in Connecticut and this is the type of information that can help to shape policy when it comes to saving critical habitat or acquiring open space. The Summer Bird Counts are coming up. I hope that the Summer Bird Counts will, this year, attract a record number of participants. There are something on the order of 16 Summer Bird Counts in the coming weeks. Rather than go to Hammo or Barn Island, then come home and post what you see on CT Bird Lists, spend a day in Woodbury, Litchfield, Hartford or any number of other places that don't come close to getting the coverage that Stratford gets on a single weekend day in January.? Contact a Summer Bird Count Compiler and ask how you can help do something that actually will mean something for Connecticut's birds. 

As Compiler for the Hartford
Count, I respectfully ask that everyone take a deep breath and refrain
from bashing Cabela's, Pratt & Whitney, DEP and each other for a
couple weeks. I would sure hate for some of our observers to show up
behind Cabela's on the weekend of the Hartford Count and be denied access to the
property because we've succeeded in catching the attention of someone
in the corporate office who doesn't give a hoot about the birds, but
does care about the bad PR this discussion just might be engendering in
some quarters.

OK, that's my two cents and I'm done. If anyone is offended, feel free to e-mail me off list. 

Jay Kaplan


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net>
To: Nick Bonomo <nbonomo at gmail.com>
Cc: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Sent: Sun, 31 May 2009 11:25 pm
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Ct endangered species lawsand Cabela's

Nick, Nick, Nick...you know better.

I do believe that birders have good intentions. I believe birders are 
well-behaved and do not tresspass (knowingly).  I also know that birders want to 
see these species as they are spectacular (they are some of my favorite 
species!!!).  I believe that seeing these birds was the motivation for the 
majority of the e-mail discussion this week, though it was couched in concern 
over the weak Endangered Species Act, unfounded accusations about DEP, and all 
too late concern about the loss of this grassland.

I  believe that birders really do want the habitat at Rentschler Field 
preserved.  Unfortunately, the truth of this matter is that the habitat will be 
lost.  It will be developed ( it is probably too late for even a monetary 
miracle)  and these species will be extirpated from the area.  I am sure this is 
frustrating to the newer birds in the state who might never get to see a show 
like this again.  It is heartbreaking to me, a long-time birder because I 
watched this area die.  

The very best we can hope for is for the birds to have successful breeding 
seasons until the grassland is paved over.  The likley reason there are this 
many birds there in the first place is because it was off-limits to everyone.  
These birds existed, non-disturbed.  This is the only place in Connecticut where 
birders have/had half a chance at seeing this many members of the grassland 
group (other than the also off-limits Bradley Airport).  Its loss is a tragedy.

Most of the postings of this week spoke of how one can get to see the birds.  
Every one was asking how to get to the best viewing access. A long stream of 
daily reports logged the success and failure of eveyone who went to see them.  I 
even tried to wrangle my way in to Pratt for documentation of the species and 
numbers.  I was unsuccessful. I visited the site twice, staying in my car both 
times.  I saw other birders on both occasions.  People spoke of cajoling 
Cabela's into providing access, some even suggested viewing access with spotting 
scopes and  publicizing it to customers as a marketing tool,  etc.  All of this 
sounds like concern about seeing the birds.   Again, understandable.  

The Uplands were reported as feeding around the bass pond at Cabela's.  So were 
the Horned Larks.  This whole area is sensitive, both as habitat and 
politically.  The Pratt and Whitney folks have no sense of humor about this 
situation.  It is probably a matter of time before the Cabela's folks feel the 
same way, especially if we piss them off.  It is critical to the birds that the 
habitat remain what it is for as long as possible.  If they are forced to the 
edge, to the critical water supply of the pond, they should be able to do this 
with as little extra stress as possible.   I understand the frustration at 
having this treasure trove of cool birds this accesible and yet not being able 
to see them.  But again, the birds exist there in such numbers because it is not 
accessible. And again, there is little to no chance this habitat will be saved.

I, in no way, meant to demean the birding public.  I have stuck up for public 
access to birds very often in this forum (see the wintering owl discussion from 
this past winter).  I simply don't want to see the bird's survival situation and 
what little access DEP has in monitoring the success of the area to be 
jeopardized because we all want to see these birds.  Today, several folks 
lamented the poor state of our Endangered Species Act.  I agree.  It is weak.  
This is not the fault of DEPand certainly not the fault of the Wildlife 
Division.  This situation is actually all of our fault... we voted to let UCONN 
build that cursed field there; we failed to stop corrupt governors and 
government make and allow profits from the sale of sensitive land; we allow tax 
incentives for development that far exceed tax incentives for preservation.  

I do not want to see the Cabela's people tire of the intrusion or of the 
suggestions on how best to cater to our needs.  Maybe we can keep a little 
access to the area.  It is sad but in this case, we are not going to get what we 

Sorry if I annoyed anyone.  Maybe if we all get mad enough we won't let this 
happen again.  Maybe.


Mark S. Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road #9
Ashford, Connecticut 06278
Birddog55 at charter.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nick Bonomo 
  To: Mark Szantyr 
  Cc: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org 
  Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 9:46 PM
  Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Ct endangered species lawsand Cabela's

  With all due respect Mark (and you know I mean that), I think you're way off 
on this. First of all, there hasn't been any problem with people being able to 
view these birds from behind Cabela's, so I don't see how that could be anyone's 
motivation here. I doubt that anybody wants to go trample through the nesting 
habitat beyond the fence since all the birds in question can be seen from the 
parking lot; I hope we all agree on that. Second, give us more credit than that. 
Why is it so hard to believe that birders actually care about the birds and not 
just their year/life lists? I think our motivations are pure in this case. I 
don't see any evidence to the contrary.

  I would have thought that a conversation involving bird conservation issues 
would be viewed as a positive, and at the very least a learning experience 
regarding the state's laws. I hope this doesn't discourage anyone from posting 
about bird conservation for fear of their motivations being questioned.

  Nick Bonomo
  Orange, CT

  On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 5:51 PM, Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net> wrote:

    In reading all of the emails about the grassland habitat at Rentschler Field 
and behind Cabela's I wonder if what is really being discussed and protested is 
the lack of birder access.  If it is concern about the well-being of the species 
complex using the grassland there, it seems to me that, at least until Pratt & 
Whitney begin the further development of the land, the current no access rule is 
perhaps the best conservation plan possible for the birds. Just today there were 
over twenty emails about the issue, several of them told of small groups that 
went to the area to see the birds.  If you tally all of the small groups and 
individuals ( and in the spirit of full disclosure, I have been there twice this 
season and unless someone finds an accessible Fork-tailed Flycatcher, I am done) 
that have made the trip to twitch the birds, it would equal a significant 
impact, I fear.  What are we really upset about?   Lets make sure we are putting 
the habitat and species in front of our "birder's right" to twitch a bird.

    Mark S. Szantyr
    80 Bicknell Road #9
    Ashford, Connecticut 06278
    Birddog55 at charter.net 

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