Conservation Summit Planned

BERLIN – A public summit to discuss state and federal wildlife conservation goals and issues will gather concerned bird enthusiasts and environmental warriors alike in Laurel, Md., next week.

The event, entitled “I Bird, I Vote Conservation Summit” is hosted by the Maryland-DC chapter of Audubon – an organization with a mission to restore the ecosystems of birds and other wildlife – and will bring together partners from national and regional groups to discuss the impacts fracking, land use and conservation funding have on the bird and wildlife population.

David Curson, the chapter’s director of bird conservation, said the summit will give bird lovers and nature enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about threats facing the bird and wildlife population.

“There are an estimated 47 million bird watchers in the nation, about 20 percent of the population, and we want to encourage them to be active in what they love,” Curson said.

The summit will take a top down approach, introducing speakers who will talk about federal, state and local issues regarding conservation.

Curson explained that wetlands play a large role in the lives of birds, wildlife and commercial fishermen, and said residents on Maryland’s Eastern Shore live around one of the state’s best natural resources.

“Marshes perform a vital function in providing the coastal community with protection and livelihood,” he said, but added that sea level rise and development threaten the marsh habitats that many humans and birds utilize.

“We need places to live, but it’s important to put development in the right place,” Curson said. “We support smart growth principles to develop in already developed areas.”

He said the summit is a launching point for participants around the state to get involved in local stewardship programs that help protect natural resources and wildlife in Maryland.

“Many Americans are concerned that rollbacks of environmental regulations and cuts to public agencies charged with looking after our air, water, land and wildlife, will irreversibly damage our country’s natural environment” Curson said in a statement. “People want to know what they can do to ensure that America’s cherished parks, forests, birds and other wildlife are safeguarded for future generations.”

This will be the second annual public summit for the organization, according to Curson.

“We basically started it last year because we wanted to encourage people who love birds and wildlife to care for it,” he said. “The goal is to encourage people to get involved, show them how they can advocate, what issues are important to advocate, and offer examples of stewardship.”

The summit will take place at the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitors Center on March 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A $15 registration fee includes a catered lunch and donation to the Friends of Patuxent.

Speakers from Clean Water Action, National Wildlife Federation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership, National Audubon Society and Audubon Maryland-DC will give presentations on local land use, state fracking possibilities, and federal funding.

For more information, or to register by Feb. 24, visit

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.