During the 2016 Conservation Donors Roundtable, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the award of a $75,000 grant to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Non-Game Division (DNR) and several partners for monitoring, studying, and protecting shorebirds along the Georgia Coast. Tim Keyes, coastal bird biologist with DNR, will administer the program on behalf of a partnership that includes St. Catherine’s Island, Little St. Simons Island, Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island, TNC-Georgia, VA Tech, UGA, and DNR. Partners have committed both financial and in-kind support to the multi-year effort.
Cumberland Island will be an important venue for the project because it supports nesting habitat for shorebirds that are declining in many areas. Up to now, only limited shorebird conservation work has been done on Cumberland Island due to limited resources. The NFWF grant will allow DNR to place a conservation technician on Cumberland for regular monitoring of beach nesting shorebirds. But one obstacle remains! The technician will need an all-terrain vehicle for monitoring the nearly 18 miles of beach on Cumberland. Unfortunately, the project budget does not include funding for this equipment.
Here’s where we come in! Conservation donors are working together to raise $10,000 to purchase the vehicle and associated equipment and, in turn, donate it to DNR for dedicated use for shorebird conservation work on Cumberland Island. The vehicle will enable the new conservation technician to monitor critical nesting activity by American Oystercatchers, Wilson’s Plovers and Least Terns. It is expected that the technician’s activities will include posting signs and rope barriers to keep people away from critical habitat, assisting with predator management, and helping with banding adult and hatchling Oystercatchers. Without the ATV, it will be impossible to address these needs across the entire 18 mile stretch of beach.
Thus far, conservation donors associated with Stewards of the Georgia Coast have contributed $6,500 to the project. In the spirit of crowdfunding, we’re calling on others within the Stewards network to contribute. Any amount will make a difference!
The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation has offered its Conservation Fund as a vehicle for donations. Make an online donation at coastalgeorgiafoundation.org or send your check to Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, ATTN: Coastal Conservation, 1626 Frederica Road, Suite 201, St. Simons Island, GA 31522.
PHOTO BY BRAD WINN