Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon to Create New Programs to Focus on Coastal Threats

WELLFLEET — Two wildlife sanctuaries on Cape Cod and the islands will be among four areas where Mass Audubon will create new centers of coastal resilience to serve as living laboratories for environmental threats.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard will be set up to serve as what an Audubon announcement described as laboratories that would also be centers to educate residents, visitors, community leaders and decision-makers” about the threats to our coasts and what is needed to protect these vital natural systems for people and wildlife.

The other centers will be at the Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth and the Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport.

“These will be spaces where we bring people together to share information about natural climate solutions that will benefit coastal communities, and the vulnerable wildlife and habitats they depend on,” said Mass Audubon President David O. ‘Neill.

The development of the centers will be the responsibility of Danielle Perry, new director of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Resilience Program, whose training and work in her previous role as a climate change adaptation ecologist focused on coastal habitats and the role they can play in mitigating the effects of a warming planet, according to the announcement.

“Our beaches, salt marshes and coastal islands are on the front line in the battle against sea level rise,” Perry said in a written statement, “and are therefore susceptible to many of the worst climate impacts, including flooding, erosion and the loss of habitats that support some of our most vulnerable species.”

She said she would work in this fight with Mass Audubon staff as well as landowners and various government agencies. Audubon officials anticipate that the centers will promote policies and regulatory reforms that expand the implementation of coastal restoration and management techniques in the field, as well as venues to host discussions and meetings on these topics.

The Coastal Resilience Program, according to the announcement, will focus on maintaining beaches, salt marshes, coastal islands and other vulnerable habitats in the face of climate change. The work will also protect marshes and shorebirds, which officials said in the press release are experiencing some of the highest population loss rates of any bird species in the world.

Coastal waterbirds have seen a 40% decline in population since 1970, the statement noted.

Mass Audubon has created a five-year action plan related to climate change, with the new program designed to restore, protect and manage at least 2,500 acres of coastal ecosystems. The conservation organization oversees nearly two dozen coastal wildlife sanctuaries — much of which are salt marshes, which help buffer sea level rise and storm surges — around the state. , including Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll

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