IBA News: Monomoy Boundaries
Birding Community E-Bulletin
Jutting off the elbow of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge provides fragile wildlife, and especially shorebird, coastal habitat. Among other things, the NWR, established in 1944 to conserve migratory birds, is a place that species like the Red Knot use as a stopover site. It is also a site where knots and other shorebirds can feast on horseshoe crab eggs, and the island is the largest haul-out site for grey seals on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. The refuge is an Important Bird Area (IBA), and the refuge’s barrier beach and other habitats support breeding populations and staging areas for the federally listed Piping Plover and Roseate Tern, and the state-listed Northern Harrier, Common Tern, and Least Tern all breed on the refuge.
Equally notable is the fact that an impressive 86% of Monomoy NWR’s lands is composed of wilderness designated by Congress in 1970. Monomoy is the only officially designated Wilderness Area found anywhere in highly developed southern New England. Nearly half of the refuge’s 7,921 acres is subtidal or open water. However, the western boundary of the refuge is now at risk because of an effort to redefine that boundary at the “mean low water line.”
If the western boundary of the refuge were set at the low water mark, it would potentially open that portion of the refuge to horseshoe crab harvesting. This harvest could take place just below mean low water, said Libby Herland, project manager at the Eastern Massachusetts Wildlife Refuge Complex. “That’s a huge concern that we have.”
In response to calls from local town and state officials, Congressman William Keating (D) is submitting legislation to redefine Monomoy’s boundaries, essentially giving away a huge chunk of the refuge. Efforts are afoot, however, to stop this action.
For information view the IBA status of Monomoy.
If you wish more information on the boundary proposal, and to take action on this issue, you may want to refer to details from the National Wildlife Refuge Association.
Also see this article in the Boston Globe.
For additional information about worldwide IBA programs, including those in the U.S., check the National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Area program web site.