The Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC), located in Savannah, NY, is the hub for the Montezuma Wetlands Complex - one of the nation’s largest conservation projects for reclamation of important wildlife and wetland habitats - and Audubon's first globally significant Important Bird Area. The Complex serves as a critically important stopover for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl during the spring and autumn migrations, and it has one of the largest breeding populations of Bald Eagles and Cerulean Warblers in New York. Audubon New York operates the MAC as a year-round nature center, offering high-quality education programs, trails, and exhibits, for the public to discover the importance of healthy wetlands to birds, wildlife, and people. With 50,000 acres of wetlands, upland forests, grasslands, open water and agricultural soils, the Complex is a unique mosaic of habitats that is used by over 300 bird species. It also provides community science and habitat enhancement opportunities which help connect people with nature and let them see first-hand how their actions influence the health of the natural resources that we all need to survive.
Through strategic partnerships, Audubon New York and the MAC offer a diverse range of programs highlighting the critical importance of habitats and focus on wetland ecology, bird migration, and habitat restoration and improvements. For example, we collaborate with the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement the Montezuma Alliance for the Restoration of Species & Habitats (MARSH!), a program that engages volunteers to restore, protect, and enhance wildlife habitats throughout the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. The Alliance meets four to six times a month from April through October to remove invasive species, replant with native species that are more beneficial to wildlife and the Montezuma habitat as a whole, and collect native grass and wildflower seeds that are used to restore areas around Montezuma. Volunteers participate in the MARSH! program for a number of reasons. They get to work side by side with Audubon educators, wildlife biologists, and like-minded individuals from across the Finger Lakes Region, they explore areas that are typically off limits to the public at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and the volunteers enjoy making a difference for the birds that call Montezuma their home.
The MARSH! volunteers accomplished a great deal in 2017. Here are a few of the highlights:
- treated/monitored 54.3 acres for Japanese barberry.
- collected approx. 270 lbs. of swallow-wort seed pods.
- pulled approx. 8 lbs. of Japanese stiltgrass.
- collected 48 lbs. of native seed.
- removed 236 lbs. of garlic mustard.
- removed over 2,100 lbs. of water chestnut.
- cleared Japanese honeysuckle from 2.2 acres.
- cut and pulled almost 2,200 phragmites stems.
- planted 570 milkweed plugs in a restoration area.
- planted approximately 500 trees and shrubs along the Oxbow Trail.
- collected 100 bathymetric points on MAC North Marsh.
- 72 first time volunteers, 22 participated in more than one event (30.5%).
- 191 unique volunteers participated.
Visit the MAC website for the 2018 MARSH! schedule and help us give Montezuma's birds a better place to live.