[CT Birds] "Improvements' at Hammonasset Park, and their effects

shootsnaps at aol.com shootsnaps at aol.com
Wed Jun 19 21:32:33 EDT 2013

Hello Fred:

I belong to the Connecticut Onithological Association (COA) which is an active birding group with members all over CT. I myself have only recently joined as I retired last fall, and have been actively monitoring the activity of the Osprey at Tod's (Greenwich) Point. You can see their progress at our web site, http://www.libraphotography.com/osprey-nesting-2013.html .

Below, please see a letter written by one of our members, John S. Schwarz of Westbrook to DEEP Commissioner Esty which eloquently describes a threat by the State to the natural patterns through Hammonasset of migratory birds in the Northeast. 

While I am not active in the Hammonasset area, I share the concerns expressed below because I see similar activities occuring locally at Tod's Point. We would appreciate your comments and what support you may be able to lend our cause.

Best Regards,

AL Scuterud
Old Greenwich
shootsnaps at aol.com
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 13:13:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: "john at birdspix.com" <schwarzjs at aol.com>

 I have sent the following letter. Also, just in case they haven't yet been made 
aware, the Hartford Courant, and any of the local TV affiliates, should also be 
kept fully informed about what is happening so that the public is aware.

Dear Commissioner. Esty:

     By now you have probably have already become aware of the consternation 
over "improvements" being made at Hammonasset State Park in Madison. Please 
allow me to offer my own personal very grave concerns:

     My interest is as a bird photographer (www.birdspix.com) who travels all 
over the country in this pursuit. I reside in Westbrook and, like many other 
Connecticut nature devotees, spend more time at Hammonasset than at any other 
single site in Connecticut. Many may not understand that Hammonasset is far more 
than a beach and a campground, it is an ecologically sensitive nature preserve 
and a crucial annual migratory stopover for many bird species, as well as a 
summer or winter home for countless others including four species of owls.

     Of particular immediate concern is the filling in of rain pools and new 
paving under consideration. Each year the rain pools and gravelly fields and 
unpaved overflow parking areas provide necessary and irreplaceable habitat for 
Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, Least and White-rumped Sandpipers, 
Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, 
and numerous other species. Human altering of what nature has purposely provided 
for these species is an enormous, if unintentional, mistake.

     I understand that it is likely that whoever made the unfortunate decision 
to fill in the rain pools did so in a well-intentioned effort to improve on the 
aesthetics of the park and was most likely unaware of the concomitant dire 
adverse affects on the park's dependent avifauna.

     It is not too late to undo the damage done so far, by fully restoring the 
rain pools to their prior natural condition, thereby returning them to the 
purpose that nature intended all along.  I implore that this be done, with 
urgency, before autumn migration begins, fully understanding that indeed this 
action may require the reluctant swallowing of someone's personal pride, with 
the admission that a simply wrong decision had unknowingly been made without all 
the relevant considerations having been fully understood, but rest assured that 
in the end such an admission will be met only with the sincerest appreciation 
and relief, with no recriminations.

     Any consideration of new paving anywhere in the park should be put on 
immediate indefinite hold while the serious adverse consequences to nature 
receive all the due time and attention they require to be fully aired, 
publicized, discussed, and understood, lest any more damage be done, this time, 
unthinkably, of the irreparable kind.

     Like all of my Connecticut colleagues, I am ready to meet with you or any 
others with authority in this matter, at any time and place convenient to you, 
to help address this ongoing concern. The restoration of the rain pools really 
can not wait, as the annual shorebird migration will already be getting underway 
in July.

Very sincerely,

John S. Schwarz


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