Bridgeport's plan to reopen Pleasure Beach is actually well thought out. The City hired Stantec, a consulting firm with offices in Hamden, and worked with CT Wildlife Division staff in the developing the Pleasure Beach Master Plan (the Plan): (http://www.scribd.com/doc/102970109/Pleasure-Beach-Master-Plan-06-27-12) and associated Threatened and Endangered Species Management Plan (TESMP). The City also held a public meeting to seek input on the Plan.
The final Plan leaves the vast majority of beach-nesting bird habitat undeveloped and restricts access to these areas. The TESMP requires the City to monitor threatened and endangered species during plan implementation and once the park is open to the public. It also requires fencing to be erected around nests, prohibits dogs within the park, and includes a carry in-carry out trash policy.
This summer, as the first phase of the Plan is being implemented, the City has contracted with the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds through Stantec to conduct weekly surveys of Pleasure Beach. String fencing is in place around sensitive habitat and we are monitoring there regularly. The City is also a partner, along with Audubon and the Student Conservation Association, on the WildLife Guards Program, which trains and employs Bridgeport High School students as coastal stewards. The WildLife Guards (WLG) and their crew leaders will be out at Long Beach and Pleasure Beach monitoring beach nesting bird species and encouraging a "share the shore" philosophy among beachgoers, starting next week. The Guards have already provided mentoring and bird oriented educational activities to 177 Bridgeport elementary school students through the City-run afterschool Lighthouse Program. By engaging students through the Lighthouse Program and their new WLG website (www.bridgeportwildlifeguards.org), through interactions with family and peers, and outreach to beachgoers, the Guards are working to change attitudes toward natural resources amongst their local community.
I encourage you to take a look at the Pleasure Beach Master Plan to learn more about the City's goals for area and please feel free to visit the WildLife Guards website or facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BridgeportWildlifeGuards) over the course of the summer for updates on the program. Also, if you would like to volunteer for the Audubon Alliance, WLG program or have other questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Audubon Connecticut and the
Connecticut Audubon Society partnering to improve conditions for coastal
waterbirds in Connecticut.