[CT Birds] Increased Access to Great Meadows Unit of Sewart B McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

Craig Repasz crepasz at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 7 15:02:34 EST 2016

Hello Fellow Birders

There have been discussions with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to give limited access to visitors on a section of closed trail at the Great Meadows Unit of the Stewart B McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Stratford. This access will be opened on select weekend days during the spring migration period (Mid-April into mid-May). Trained volunteer stewards will monitor the area during the open periods to tally visitors and to assure that visitors stay in the designated areas.

Our hope is to make a determination if this limited access in an otherwise closed area will indeed provide "enhanced visitation" to the public.

The closed section of trail extends to the southwest from the parking area on Long Beach Boulevard. It is barricaded due to the presence of an endangered plant species. There is an open section of trail to the right that leads to a salt pond famous for teals and Yellow Crowned Night Herons. There are plans to erect an observation blind at this salt pond.

It has not yet been determined if the area behind the barricade holds a greater variety of bird numbers and species than the area around the parking lot and pond. Although anecdotal testimony suggests more birds can be found down the closed trail. If there are a lot of visitors during the test period in the spring and it is demonstrated that the trail beyond the barricade hosts more species and a greater number of birds, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will investigate ways to extend access.

During the open periods in the spring, visitors will be encouraged to report their sightings to eBird.

We welcome any insight and feedback from the birding community on this initial plan.

Craig Repasz

Friends of Steward B McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

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