November 8, 2005

Birds Bring Two Groups Together

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A tag-team approach to the study of birds by Audubon New York and the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be employed to help the ecological system as a whole, experts say.

“Birds are environmental indicators, or ecological litmus papers,” said Jillian Liner, the Important Bird Area coordinator for the Audubon New York. “While we certainly are focusing on birds, the overall goal is to help all species and the larger ecosystem.”

Liner presented a joint lecture with Andy Zepp, executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, entitled “Important Bird Areas: Global Currency for Land Protection in the Finger Lakes Region” at the Cornell School of Ornithology.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust is a non-profit organization which seeks to protect local landscape “by establishing nature reserves and holding conservation easements, education for responsible stewardship and collaboration.” Audubon New York is an organization devoted to conservation of the birds at the most risk in New York State. Together, these two organizations have been working on the Important Birds Area initiative in and around Ithaca.

The Audubon New York site explains that the intention of the initiative “is to identify a network of sites throughout the state that are essential for sustaining naturally occurring populations of bird species, and to promote the protection or management of these sites for the long-term conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.”

Recently, the Important Birds Area program completed its second search in New York for areas which should be protected. The study designated 136 areas for protection including over twenty within the Finger Lakes region.

The two organizations are working to improve these sites and their surrounding areas through habitat improvement programs, site conservation planning and increased land protection.

Recent successes include the bird sanctuary on Fall Creek, where the Land Trust acquired 170 acres of protected land. The group has been able to protect the wetlands in the Owasco Flats, and also has lobbied private land owners in Bear Swamp to ‘swap’ lands in order that the Land Trust has control over more environmentally sensitive spots.

The lecture did not bash the state government but did allude to the problem of high property taxes. High property taxes lead to many individual owners selling to developers build on a large percentage of what the Land Trust and Audubon consider areas that should be protected.

This lecture was the latest in a series of Monday Night Seminars at the School of Ornithology. All events are free and open to the public.

Archived article by lex Lebowitz
Sun Staff Writer