Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society (DOAS) announces funding awards to five regional projects as part of the organization’s Climate Action Leadership Program, an initiative to promote and support climate change-based action in our local communities. According to research and data by the National Audubon Society, climate change currently threatens 389 bird species in North America – two-thirds of all the species on the continent. In New York State, there are 54 bird species that are highly vulnerable (birds like Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Goshawk, Winter Wren and Hermit Thrush) and an additional 62 species that are considered to have moderate vulnerability (i.e. Canada Goose, American Woodcock, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Robin) from the effects of climate change. These birds may lose more than half of their current geographic range as bird populations shift northwards due to habitat loss from a changing climate and other indirect repercussions like drought, severe weather events, increased urbanization.
The Climate Action Leadership Program began last fall with a series of online webinars that ran from November 2020 through March of 2021. A total of 183 people from our region participated in 7 online programs that focused on the need for action and what we can do (individually and collectively) to make a difference. Through a partnership with CURE100 (Communities United to Reduce Emissions 100%), DOAS initiated and actively promotes the use of a Carbon Tracker Tool for our region that is available at doas.us/carbon-tracker in order to begin to compile baseline data and the impacts of action within our local communities. Due to the fast-growing interest in Electric Vehicles (EV’s) and the potential reduction in carbon emissions that mass adoption can have on stemming climate change impacts, DOAS produced a well-attended EV Car Show in Oneonta in late May showcasing close to 20 vehicles with information provided by current owners and by area dealership representatives.
DOAS received applications requesting close to $15,000 in funding and was able to award over $8000 to five projects. These awards have been made possible in part from National Audubon’s ‘Audubon in Action’ program.
Susan O’Handley, Co-president of DOAS, shared that “[DOAS is] excited to help make these projects happen in our region and to see people of all ages working together in their communities to help address local impacts of climate change. We are hopeful that others will join in the action as we continue to move forward.”
The projects that received funding include a stream restoration and stabilization project with the Otsego Land Trust at Brookwood Point in Cooperstown, an effort to create a community-wide education and outreach program in the Village of Delhi about the importance of planting with native species and eradication of invasives, a campus-wide Bee Campus USA certification for SUNY Oneonta, creating an outdoor classroom and pollinator garden at Guilford Elementary School and a program to install and monitor bluebird nesting boxes in the Town of Middlefield through a local citizen group working collaboratively with the municipality just starting on local ‘Climate Smart Community’ initiatives.
Kathy Mario, who is working with the community group for the “Homegrown National Park” Program in Delhi, stated that “as a lifelong birder, I saw the Audubon request for proposals and our group jumped on the opportunity. We are grateful for the DOAS expertise and support.” The group is working with DOAS to provide information about their project at an exhibit at the Delhi Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, June 23 from 9am-2pm. They will also be providing native plants to those who have an interest in taking action on their property to help build needed habitat for birds and insects.
Sydney Waller, who is organizing the Middlefield Bluebird Project states, “This program gave us a chance to design a project where we could lean on the wisdom of a community elder AND involve young leaders who live in our sparsely populated township. We want to inspire our community to observe and protect nature, and to share their acquired knowledge with the town and their peers using their rich creativity.”
Throughout the Climate Action Leadership Project, DOAS has been working to establish and build its own online network and community to discuss topics, share resources and information and support our local communities in regards to action to reduce carbon emissions, build habitat and overall address climate change regionally. The Climate Action Leadership Network now includes more than 50 people from throughout the DOAS region who are interested in working together to take action. DOAS will be hosting a network training session on June 17 at 6:30pm on Zoom. Pre-registration is required for the session. Register at https://bit.ly/3pJGrNT. Anyone interested in joining our online Network can email Susan O’Handley at email@example.com and request an invitation or leave a voicemail at 607-397-3815.