Old News Archive

New How-to Guides Help Communities Conserve Wildlife

April 10, 2007 - TRC

Publications help explain why controversial shorebird habitat protection laws are necessary

FALMOUTH, Maine, April 10, 2007—A pair of new guides produced by Maine Audubon will help Maine landowners and communities conserve local wildlife in shoreland and coastal habitats.

“Conserving Wildlife in Maine’s Shoreland Habitats” and “Conserving Wildlife in Maine’s Coastal Habitats” describe why shoreland and coastal habitats are valuable for wildlife and recommend how communities can conserve them.

By explaining why migratory shorebird feeding and roosting areas are so important, the guides will help address misunderstandings that led to controversy over a recent law passed to protect significant wildlife habitat for shorebirds.

"These guides provide good, concise information on both shoreland and costal habitats for town officials and residents,” said Roger Heard, chairman of the Arrowsic Planning Board. “Not only do they give you a good general overview of each topic, they also include a long list of detailed information sources and how to access them. These are guides that you will use all the time."

Maine Audubon, in consultation with other partners of the Beginning with Habitat program, produced the free, illustrated, easy-to-use guides in response to questions from community members about how to protect important shoreland and coastal habitats identified and mapped in Beginning with Habitat, the award-winning, statewide collaborative program created to help Maine communities incorporate natural resource conservation into land use planning.

“There’s a lot of pressure to develop shoreland and coastal habitat because people like to live there,” said Barbara Charry, Maine Audubon wildlife biologist and co-author of the guides. “But we need to make room for wildlife, too. These guides show why the habitats are important to wildlife and provide recommendations for how communities can plan for both growth and habitat conservation.”

Coastal towns that have received Beginning with Habitat maps have been given copies of the coastal guide. Other towns are encouraged to request free copies of the guides by calling (207) 781-2330, ext. 222, or visiting www.maineaububon.org.

Healthy coastal habitat is critical for hundreds of wildlife species as well as Maine’s multimillion-dollar seafood industry. Eighty-five percent of vertebrates use shoreland habitat at some point in their lives.

To conserve wildlife, the guides recommend, for example, extending shoreland habitat protection in some areas to ensure bobcats, red fox, mink and otter can find the food they need and travel between habitats where they rest and breed. They also recommend leaving rather than clearing vegetation along the shore. Well-vegetated buffers provide important wildlife habitat and travel corridors and are one of the most cost-effective tools for coping with nonpoint source pollution.

Maine Audubon forest ecologist and co-author of the shoreland guide Rob Bryan has been working with towns in three of Maine’s fastest-growing areas—the North Sebago watershed, southern York County and the Damariscotta River region—to incorporate suggestions from the guide into local and regional planning efforts.

The two guides are the second and third of the "Conserving Wildlife" series Maine Audubon has produced for Beginning with Habitat. The first guide is “Conserving Wildlife in Maine’s Developing Landscape;” the fourth guide, "Conserving Wildlife On and Around Maine's Roads" will help towns make roads less harmful to Maine wildlife and habitat.

"These guides come at the perfect time,” noted Steve Walker, Beginning with Habitat program coordinator. “Many communities are updating their comprehensive plans, open space plans, and land use ordinances and are looking for detailed information about why and how to conserve high-value natural resources at the local level. Maine Audubon’s guides provide just that information."

Funded in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Horizon Foundation, The Betterment Fund, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Environment, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada, the guides were developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Geological Survey, Maine State Planning Office, Maine Natural Areas Program and the Maine departments of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Environmental Protection and Marine Resources.

For more information on Maine Audubon, call (207) 781-2330 or visit www.maineaudubon.org. For more information on Beginning with Habitat, call (207) 287-5254 or visit www.beginningwithhabitat.org.

MAINE AUDUBON works to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people of all ages in education, conservation and action.

For years Maine Audubon has played a leadership role in the development of innovative, community-based strategies and publications designed to bring the best science to bear on conservation issues faced by local towns, officials and citizens.

Submitted by Marie Malin, Maine Audubon

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.