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Press Release

May 14, 2008

Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe
518.486.1868

State's 50th Bird Conservation Area Designated at Napeague and Hither Hills State Parks

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today designated 2,140 acres of Napeague and Hither Hills State Parks a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) – making it the 50th BCA established under a program designed to protect birds and enhance nearby bird habitats.

"New York State parks offer exceptional places for bird enthusiasts to discover a diverse species of birds in their native habitats," said Ash. "Creating this Bird Conservation Area will help conserve this important coastal habitat and enhance the experience of visitors who come to enjoy the scenery of the parks and learn about birds. In addition, it will help increase the nesting success of several endangered or threatened bird species."

"Audubon New York applauds Commissioner Carol Ash and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for this important BCA designation and for their strong commitment to this one of a kind conservation program,' said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York, the state program of the National Audubon Society. "Napeague and Hither Hills State Parks provide important habitat for a unique diversity of coastal bird species, and the BCA designation will ensure that management decisions enhance beach nesting on this site."

The BCA, which encompasses most of Napeague State Park and a western portion of Hither Hills State Park, will remain in a relatively natural state, managed to increase the nesting success of federally threatened and New York State-endangered Piping Plovers, state-threatened Least Terns and Northern Harrier, state-endangered wintering Short-eared Owls, and state-special concern Osprey. Steps will be taken to attract Common and Roseate Terns and Black Skimmers, which have bred there in the past.

New York State's Bird Conservation Area Program, modeled after the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Areas Program, was enacted in 1997. The program is designed to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats on selected state-owned lands and waters. Bird Conservation Area proposals are reviewed by an advisory committee of state and private wildlife experts based upon the site's ability to support an exceptional abundance or diversity of birds. The focus of the BCA program is to provide a model stewardship program and to develop interpretive and educational programs for bird conservation.

"The beaches, salt marshes and islands of Napeague and Hither Hills help make up a vast, relatively unfragmented area of maritime open space on Eastern Long Island, attracting a variety of shorebirds," Ash said. "Protecting those birds and their habitat is an important part of the role that state parks play in providing stewardship for New York's sensitive natural resources. I look forward to continuing innovative programs to safeguard our incredible diversity of birds, animals, plants and ecosystems."

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation administers 178 parks and 35 state historic sites, which attract over 55 million visitors each year. For more information about state parks and historic sites in New York, please visit www.nysparks.com

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