[CT Birds] Hammo construction: anther view...

Kathy Van Der Aue kathyvda at gmail.com
Tue Oct 13 10:00:30 EDT 2015

Thank you Jerry for your positive and well reasoned stance on this.  COA is
working behind the scenes with DEEP officials (Tom Tyler, Director of Parks
& Recreation and Susan Whalen, Deputy Commissioner for Environmental
Protection) to try and address such issues as mitigation of the damage done
by construction, park access and other pressing topics.  To that end we
have assembled a committee which will begin work soon with Ann Kilpatrick,
District Wildlife Biologist for the Hammonasset area planning bird friendly
enhancements such as shorebird "puddles," seed plots and whatever else
these experts can devise to attempt to restore and enhance the park for
birds and other wildlife.  *Be aware, these enhancements will be for the
benefit of the birds and not for birder's convenience*, although exact
locations have not yet been determined.  We have been consulted about which
species of trees to plant to replace the "Crossbill Pines" which have now
all succumbed to disease.  I do think they are trying to take our concerns
seriously and that we should try to be constructive in return.

Our initial response from DEEP has been positive, even enthusiastic,
although implementation will tell us where wildlife falls in the DEEP
hierarchy.  We are encouraged that Ann Kilpatrick has been assigned to work
with our Mitigation Committee consisting of Margaret Rubega, PhD (State
Ornithologist) Chris Elphick, PhD (UConn's Department of Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology), Patrick Comins, (Audubon Connecticut's director of
Bird Conservation), Frank Mantlik, (COA Board Member and member of the
Avian Records Committee of Connecticut), Frank Gallo, CTConnecticut
Audubon's Associate Director at Milford Point) and Buzz Devine (Co-author
of the *Connecticut Birding Guide*).

On the early access for birder's, we have also been in discussions on this
issue with them and they tell us it is being considered.  Solutions in my
mind range from simply showing binoculars at the gate to buying a
Connecticut Duck Stamp ($13.00, well worth it) but we have a ways to go on
this, sad to say.

COA is a member of the Governor"s IBA Task Force and we have a meeting
today during which I will raise these and other issues of concern to our
membership.  I'll report back after the meeting on what occurred.  Please
know that we are involved and working hard to resolve these complex issues.

Kathy Van Der Aue
​, President COA​

Southport, Connecticut
Visit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com

On Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 7:00 PM, Jerry Connolly via CTBirds <
ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:

> I've held off these last few months commenting on the "imminent demise of
> Hammonasset SP" as a birding hotspot but now feel compelled to do so.   I
> believe some of the negativity concerning the current construction at West
> Beach and the new Nature Center to be non-constructive at best.  I have no
> interest in becoming involved in an email debate, but only wish to temper
> what has been a very one-sided "discussion" of these issues which, to an
> outsider reading this forum, may appear to paint us all with one broad
> stroke.  I have actually fielded phone calls and emails from out-of-state
> birders asking about alternatives to Hammo since they read (on this forum)
> that the park was "irrevocably and irreparably" lost as a bird habitat.  Of
> course everyone has the right to their opinion, but statements such as
> these should not go unchallenged if, as I suspect, a significant segment
> (if not the majority) of the state's birding community does not subscribe
> to them.
> First and foremost, I think it's important to remember that birders
> represent a very, very tiny percentage of the over ONE MILLION visitors to
> the park annually.  Yes, many groups use the park for gatherings, very
> often with charitable motives.  Don't they have the same right to use the
> STATE park as we do?  If someone wants to put together a
> birding/photography festival, I'm sure the park will welcome you with open
> arms.
> The new Nature Center has been a long time coming.  The old building is
> falling apart.  Having an educational center in the park is a wonderful
> asset that serves THOUSANDS of students from all over the state.  Programs
> run there can often provide one of the few exposures to the natural world
> for many inner city youngsters.  I can't imagine any of us being against
> that!
> To be sure, the construction areas of both the West Beach and the Nature
> Center sites look hideous.  Please remember that this is temporary, not
> forever.
> Here's a link to DEEP regarding current construction with an illustration
> of the new pavilion.
> http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=565984&deepNav_GID=1650
> I would suggest that people with issues concerning construction, contact
> Jack Hine (203-245-2785 or john.hine at ct.gov), the very accessible park
> supervisor with concerns and /or questions they may have. A couple of weeks
> ago I did just that, and this is what I found out.
> 1. The construction of the West Beach Pavilion has a target opening for
> Memorial Day 2016, though it is running ahead of schedule and should be
> completed well before that date.  Weather, of course could factor in to the
> completion date.
> 2. The fencing off the West Beach area beyond Chase's Pond (aka "Swan
> Pond") is being implemented by the contractor (not the DEEP / park) because
> of logistical and liability concerns.
> 3. The several acre fenced off rectangular area in the extreme west near
> the campsite playground is not slated for additional parking as some have
> suggested.  It is a leeching field, that will have a simple baseball field
> upon it, similar to what was there before.
> 4. The West Beach parking lot will NOT be expanded, contrary to statements
> made on this forum.  In fact, the footprint will remain the same with the
> pavilion being constructed within that footprint.  Further, they have
> constructed several swales within the parking lot that will be planted with
> grass and shrubs.  The net effect of this will be better habitat and 275
> LESS parking spaces than what was previously there.
> Hammonasset is still a great park to bird in.  I, for one will continue
> bird and enjoy the park for all it has to offer.  If I want to bird the
> west end, I simply park my car and take a walk.  The disruption is a pain
> but not forever.  Bottom line: when the projects are finally done, the park
> just might be better.
> Respectfully,
> Jerry Connolly
> <(` )
>     ( >)~
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