[CT Birds] DEEP Meeting Summary
sbreslin at audubon.org
Fri Jul 26 18:45:56 EDT 2013
On behalf of Tina Green, Kathy Van Der Aue, Miley Bull, Patrick Comins and me, here is the promised rundown of our meeting at CT DEEP Wednesday morning (7/24/13) regarding birds and birding in CT State Parks.
We met with Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen, Bureau of Natural Resources Chief, Bill Hyatt, State Parks Division Director, Tom Tyler and Policy Director, Jessie Stratton. Wildlife Division Director, Rick Jacobson is away on vacation this week, but sent his regrets and expressed his strong interest in this issue.
Overall it was an excellent meeting with agreement that this was just the start of an ongoing dialogue between DEEP and the CT birding community. Deputy Commissioner Whalen opened the conversation by thanking us for coming to Hartford to meet and reiterating her commitment to keep an open line of communication with us. There is no doubt that the photos, emails and phone calls from all of you on this list made the difference. I can't stress that enough!
Deputy Commissioner Whalen told us that in response to the issues you raised, DEEP has already put in place several processes to improve internal communications and benefit wildlife including:
* Parks consultation with Wildlife before improvements are carried out (for minor improvements)
* Annual planning sessions with Wildlife and Parks staff early each season to review planned improvements (for major improvements)
* Ensuring that a biologist is consulted and/or on site when conducting activities that have the potential to impact a particular bird or birds.
* All the DEEP team was extremely upset and sorry about the incident with the GHO
Other issues discussed included:
* Possibility of creating new shorebird pools elsewhere at Hammonasset. We will follow up w Tom Tyler and OLISP.
* Possibility of working with COA and the Audubons to organize workshops for Parks Staff on topics related to natural resource management including birds, other wildlife, and plants
* Despite a tough budget climate, we were assured that DEEP is prioritizing the hiring of a non-game biologist to fill the position left vacant by Julie Victoria's retirement. This would increase Wildlife's capacity to provide needed consultation to Parks. (Note: State funding for the agency has decreased, federal support for many positions is reduced or disappearing so staffing remains a significant challenge for the agency. DEEP has also lost a significant number of staff to retirement in the past few years and is about to lose many more.)
* Mr. Hyatt assured us that despite current staff levels, the Wildlife Division is completely committed to providing any needed consultation
* DEEP requested our assistance in addressing the issue of increased trash at all the Parks - any ideas or solutions much appreciated!
Longer term, we agreed to work together to:
* Establish a mechanism for providing park managers with current information about birds and wildlife in their parks. One idea is to have a liaison from the birding community to each Park who would provide regular updates to the Park Manager
* Explore mechanisms to address the access issue - a birding stamp, a voluntary license or pass were discussed
* Explore the possibility meetings w the birding community at various parks to obtain input on resources at those sites
* We agreed to meet again in a few months (October) to continue our discussion - there are a number of improvements being planned at parks including Hammonasset and Silver Sands
* Commissioner Whalen, Chief Hyatt and Director Tyler encouraged us to keep in touch. We all agreed to keep the communication going!
So, a very big thanks to all of you for your combined expertise and guidance through this process, to COA for providing the CT Birds list that made our communication possible, and especially to Tina and Kathy who took time out during and before their vacations to attend this meeting. It is just a first step, but a good and necessary one!
Have a great weekend,
Director of Governmental Affairs
185 East Flat Hill Road
Southbury, CT 06488
(203) 804-0488 cell (Best)
(203) 264-5098 x306
(203) 264-6332 fax
Audubon Connecticut, the state organization of the National Audubon Society, works to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitats using education, science and conservation, and legislative advocacy for the benefit of people and the earth's biological diversity. Through our network of nature education centers, protected wildlife sanctuaries and local, volunteer chapters, we seek to connect people with nature and inspire the next generation of conservationists.
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