Northeast Corridor Rail proposal likely to damage Audubon sanctuaries

The Connecticut Audubon Society today submitted comments criticizing the Federal Railway Administration’s Northeast Corridor Rail proposal because of the likelihood that it would significantly damage three of the organization’s sanctuaries and centers.

Alternative 1 would apparently cut through the heart of Old Lyme, where Connecticut Audubon recently established the virtual Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center and is seeking a permanent location in town.

Alternatives 2 and 3 would apparently cut through or skirt the border of the 700-acre Bafflin Sanctuary, at the Center at Pomfret, and perhaps Trail Wood/The Edwin Way Teale Memorial Sanctuary, which encompasses 168 acres in Hampton.

In his letter critiquing the NEC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Connecticut Audubon President Alexander Brash wrote: “Within the alternatives there are a number of components of each of the proposed NEC routes that would severely impact and generally damage Connecticut’s natural resources as well as several that would directly impair several of our centers and sanctuaries and the communities they serve.”

Alternatives 2 and 3 would bisect relatively pristine areas of the state, thereby causing further habitat fragmentation.

Brash wrote: “As discussed in our most recent Connecticut State of the Birds report (Protecting and Connecting Large Landscapes, December 2015), fragmentation such as this creates additional forest edge and results in the long-term loss of migratory, forest-interior breeding birds such as Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo and Wood Thrush. Many of these and other migratory breeding birds are already suffering long-term declines, which would only be worsened by additional forest fragmentation.”

Brash pointed out that specific comments were difficult because the maps that are part of the proposal are vague and inexact.

Read the Connecticut Audubon Society’s letter.

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