July 16, 2013 (Southbury, CT)—Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society, joined Governor Malloy, Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Steve Reviczky, Department of Developmental Services Commissioner, Terrence Macy, Southbury State Representative Arthur O’Neill, State Senator Rob Kane, Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson, Roxbury First Selectwoman Barbara Henry, the Southbury Land Trust, and statewide farm and open space advocates at a bill signing for Public Act 13-90, An Act Concerning the Preservation of Farmland at the Southbury Training School, which transfers custody of approximately 800 acres of undeveloped land at the facility from the Department of Developmental Services to the Department of Agriculture, and allows the Commissioner of Agriculture to grant an easement ensuring permanent agriculture use of the site to a nonprofit conservation organization, the Southbury Land Trust. A group of residents from the Southbury Training School were on hand for the ceremony and presented the Governor and dignitaries with eggs raised on the farm.
“We applaud Governor Malloy, Commissioner Reviczky, First Selectman Edelson, Representative O’Neill and most particularly the Southbury Land Trust for making this landmark conservation victory possible,” said Leslie Kane, Director of the 750-acre Audubon Center Bent of the River, located a few miles from the Training School. “Today’s bill signing marks a double conservation victory,” said Kane, “on the one hand the state is preserving prime and important farmland and promoting the future viability of farming in our community while also conserving critical habitat for birds and wildlife. So many of the bird species found this property only flourish in the types of habitat provided by working farms. We look forward to working with the state, the town, and the Land Trust to ensure that the Training School becomes a model for best agricultural practices while also maximizing opportunities for bird and wildlife conservation,” she added.
“Connecticut’s shrub and grassland bird species have suffered population declines with the loss of active agriculture in our state,” said Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society. “Some of these bird species like Brown Thrasher depend on the habitats found on working farms for nesting and raising their young, finding shelter during the winter or as essential rest stops during their long migratory journeys each spring and fall. Species like the Bobolink, Long-eared Owl, and American Kestrel are so rare in our state that they are now listed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as threatened or endangered. We look forward to working with the Department of Agriculture and the Southbury Land Trust to ensure that this exciting renewal of agricultural activities on the Southbury Training School Farm also provides some habitat for these birds,” concluded Comins.
Audubon Connecticut, the state organization of the National Audubon Society, works to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, using education, science and conservation, and legislative advocacy for the benefit of people and the earth's biological diversity. Through our network of nature education centers, protected wildlife sanctuaries, and local, volunteer chapters, we seek to connect people with nature and inspire the next generation of conservationists.