Message from Erin Crotty, Executive Director:
On behalf of all of us at Audubon New York, I would like to extend our thanks to those of you that donated to our year-end appeal. As we ushered in the New Year we were showered with support from our generous network. Your support makes our work to protect birds and their habitats possible and we are very grateful.
We are energized by our progress in 2016 and eager to continue the momentum through 2017. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently released his New York State Executive Budget proposal which includes significant funding for programs to protect people, birds, and the places they need to survive and thrive. We are hard at work making sure that funding for the environment is provided in the enacted State Budget.
In late November 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation to establish the Ocean Acidification Task Force. Acidic ocean water from carbon dioxide can have a dramatic impact on sea-life, in turn jeopardizing shorebird species that rely on the coastal habitats on Long Island. Thank you to Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator LaValle for sponsoring this important legislation and shepherding its passage.
In November 2016, Audubon New York – in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Black Rock Forest, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Paul Smith’s College – hosted two Forest Habitat Management workshops that drew 40 attendees. Private landowners own 75% of New York’s total forested lands. We are encouraged by Governor Cuomo’s Empire Forest for the Future initiative – a program for private forest landowners to reduce the conversion of forests to non-forest uses, and encourage sustainable forest management on private lands.
In December 2016, we were extremely pleased to see the long-awaited finalization of Plan 2014, a modern management plan for the water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The plan incorporates best available science to restore over 60,000 acres of wetland habitat for the benefit of birds and wildlife, including state and federally listed endangered species like the Black Tern and Piping Plover.
Audubon New York is committed to a clean energy future. It is crucial that the potential impacts on birds from energy projects are fully assessed. Audubon is the voice for birds and recently submitted comments on NYSERDA's Proposed Wind Energy Area off of Long Island. We will stay engaged in this emerging issue.
This year was Audubon’s 117th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the US, Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. The data collected by CBC participants over the past century and more have become one of only two large pools of information informing ornithologists and conservation biologists how the birds of the Americas are faring over time. This year there were 529 counts completed totaling 14,090,998 birds.
Audubon Chapters Highlights
Twelve Audubon Chapters will be receiving Chapter Collaborative Funding to kick off their 2017 on-the-ground conservation work. The funding supports a variety of priorities, including bird-friendly community native plant projects, education programs, habitat enhancements to parks and sanctuaries, and capacity building to help with greater outreach and strategic planning. Buffalo Audubon Society received this year’s Norman Shapiro collaborative grant award for their project to initiate a citizen science component to an ongoing habitat enhancement project at Buckhorn Island State Park. Norm Shapiro was a founding member of the Audubon Council of New York State and a leader who truly embodied collaboration within Audubon. We look forward to collaborating with the Chapters and their volunteers in the year ahead!