Funding Eliminated from Sandy Recovery Bill

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By Patrick Comins on January 18, 2013, 11:35am Last modified: January 20, 2013, 10:17am

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Coastal Connecticut received significant damage from storm tides and currents when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast on October 30th.  Recently congress passed a relief bill to help the Northeast recover from the damages.  This bill contained $78 million for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recover damaged habitats and facilities in areas affected by the storm. 

One of the refuges that was impacted by the storm was Connecticut's Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, which sustained nearly $10M in damage to public access and educational facilities.  Bird habitats on the refuge were also hit hard, including critical nesting areas the federally endangered Roseate Tern.   A successful amendment put forth by Rep. John Flemming of Louisiana however, stripped any funding designated for the McKinney Refuge.   This means that all Refuges that were damaged by the hurricane will be receive recovery funds EXCEPT for Connecticut's McKinney Refuge! 

The reasoning given for stripping this funding was that the affected islands were uninhabited and closed to the public.  While it is true that there are no permanent residents of these islands, they represent some of the most important bird habitat along the Connecticut coast and of the Refuge's eight islands, only Goose Island in Westport is closed year-round to the public.   All of the other islands provide some public access, and serve thousands of Connecticut residents and visitors each summer.   Without these recovery funds, the Refuge is likely to be forced to close these islands to the public and critical habitat for nesting birds will not be restored and go unmanaged this coming nesting season.    To learn about what you can do to help with this situation, please "like" our facebook page, where we will be posting updates and opportunities to weigh in. 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Audubon-Alliance-for-Coastal-Waterbirds/168520783251234

Or check our blog: http://ctwaterbirds.blogspot.com/

For more photos of the Refuge and the birds it supports, please see the following slides:

Photo of the graceful and endangered Roseate Tern by AJ Hand.

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Patrick Comins

Town: Meriden, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since September 2012.

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