We are conducting conservation and educational outreach work in Connecticut as a part of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds for species like the Piping Plover shown here, creating management plans on select sites, monitoring state-listed sparrows and turtles, surveying for unrecorded odonates, discovering rare plants, finding amphibians that need our help, and creating many other novel initiatives with local organizations, regional businesses, SUNY students and citizen scientists to create a better knowledge and appreciation of the natural world and the vast resources the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region has to offer.
Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds
RTPI is proud to be a new partner in the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds‘ (AAfCW) third season with Audubon Connecticut and Connecticut Audubon Society. AAfCW is an active conservation, education and outreach project that provides stewardship and survey efforts by volunteers and staff working to help the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) in an innovative joint initiative on Connecticut’s beaches, islands, and other coastal areas to monitor imperiled waterbirds.
Natural History Atlas
In 2001 RTPI published a Natural History Atlas to the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region, culminating several years of environmental education work through a matching grant from the Annenberg Rural Challenge. We have put the complete original Atlas online and available for free download at the above link through support from the Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History & Nature (C-SAAHN) Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo. We are currently updating the Atlas fully with fresh data, information, photos, videos and accounts that we will publish digitally. In 2014 and beyond our staff will be repeatedly visiting every single site and many additional locations, all of which you will be able to find on the Natural History Atlas page.
SUNY College Lodge
Our staff is currently conducting a year-long plant and wildlife assessment of the approximately 200-acre property owned and operated by the Faculty Student Association of SUNY Fredonia. Working with SUNY staff and experienced local naturalists RTPI staff is surveying all forms of life in order to create a conservation and management plan recommending best practices for the site. On July 18-19, 2014 there will be a BioBlitz of the College Lodge, a 24-hour race to record every living thing on the property with experts from across the region taking part. Click here to visit the College Lodge page in our Natural History Atlas.
Winter trails cell phone tour
Snowmobiling is said to be an over $750 million industry in the state of New York and nearly $20 million in Chautauqua County alone. This winter we are teaming up with the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club to establish a self-guided audio cell phone tour on over 200 miles of winter trails located in the westernmost part of Chautauqua County. The tour will highlight designated points of interest throughout the area, and provide an opportunity for thousands of local and visiting snowmobilers to learn about some of the places that make this county so unique. Through the tour we will feature areas of natural history interest as well as historical sites and local businesses. Each point will be marked by a trail sign and snowmobilers will be able to dial into the tour to receive material pertaining to each stop. Text, photos and videos will be included throughout the tour and will be free to access through any kind of phone. Click here to visit our tour page and click here to view the mobile tour site.
Sparrow monitoring at Jamestown Airport
RTPI staff documented confirmed breeding of Henslow’s Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows at the Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport (KJHW) during the summer of 2013. Both species are listed as New York endangered species with the Henslow’s Sparrow classified as ‘threatened’ and the Grasshopper Sparrow classified as ‘special concern’. Working with airport officials, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and the local birding community data and information was collected all summer while protecting certain areas of the airport from mowing whenever possible. Botanical studies to determine habitat selection and site usage were undertaken as well. In 2014 RTPI staff will work with student interns from SUNY’s Jamestown Community College to continue this conservation effort conducting both point count surveys for bird life and vegetation surveys.
Spiny Softshell Turtles in downtown Jamestown
Another terrific discovery in 2013 was that of the New York state ‘special concern’ Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles (Apalone spinifera) in the Chadakoin River in and around Jamestown. In this urban environment the species faces difficulties ranging from increased levels of predation to lack of a suitable nesting substrate. RTPI staff confirmed successful breeding in September 2013 and we are expanding the scope of observations of the species and their biology throughout the city and region while working with community leaders, local businesses and interested citizens in educating residents and protecting the area.
In 2014 student interns from SUNY’s Jamestown Community College will be assisting with this exciting research in hopes of fostering a better home for these unique creatures. If you have any sightings please submit them to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eastern Hellbender and other herpetological research
The Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is just one amphibian that is endemic to our region but declining rapidly because of deteriorating conditions in its environment. Many salamanders, frogs, and snakes are suffering declines that threaten the overall health of our ecosystem. RTPI President and Executive Director Twan Leenders is one of the world’s leading herpetologists who has worked intentionally for decades on some of the most critically endangered species on the planet. Dr. Leenders continues this work today at RTPI and abroad, and more information on these efforts will be seen here on our website and blog in the future.
Odonate surveys throughout the region
RTPI is in the beginning stages of collecting dragonflies and damselflies from across the region. Our staff seeks to better understand the distribution of species, especially any that are state-listed or of conservation priority, and their abundance to use as indicators of the health of key habitats. RTPI has already discovered previously unrecorded species in Chautauqua County including the Delta-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegaster diastatops), Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum) and more.