EASTON, Conn. – Just preserving open space won't be enough to save the state's wildlife -- that land must be properly managed, residents gathered for the State of the Birds address learned Monday morning at the Aspetuck Land Trust in Easton.
This year’s State of the Birds report, released by the Connecticut Audubon Society, says the diversity of bird species is declining because of the expanding forests in the state.
“We’re hoping that this raises awareness,” said Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation for Connecticut Audubon. “This report talks about how important it is to manage our habitats.”
Managing the land is key to ensuring that the wide range of birds that live in the state continues to flourish, Bull said.
But it's a big problem that many people would rather give money to save the spotted owl than cut down trees in swamps to help save marsh birds, he said.
“Just because you have a piece of land doesn’t mean you should leave it alone,” said David Brant, executive director for the Aspetuck Land Trust.
The shrinking number of bird species in the state, Bull said, is mainly due to improper managing of the open spaces that exist. By leaving open spaces alone, he said, the land is “growing up” into forested areas. That decreases the amount of grasslands, marshes and brush areas, where many native birds live.
The successful conservation of open space requires planning how to take care of the plants and the wildlife in the years to follow, said Amy Paterson, executive director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council.
Part of what prompted the theme of this year’s State of the Birds was a wildlife study of the Aspetuck land. “It will serve as a building block for how we’re going to manage the next 50 years,” Brant said.
Many of the speakers touched on ways to ensure that the people who use the open spaces understand what is being protected.
“Education is critically important,” Brant said. The state is hoping that by updating its Wildlife Action Plan, it will assist in the education process.
“There are a lot of challenges,” said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. Most of them involve making sure that the people understand what kind of habitats are needed for the wildlife in the state, she said.
Brant spoke specifically about Trout Brook Valley, where the meeting was held. “We don’t want Trout Brook to be loved too much,” because that could ruin the ecosystems for the birds and other wildlife in the area, he said.