Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Partners Launch “Celebrate Delaware Bay Network”

 

With its spawning horseshoe crabs and long-distance fliers, the story on the Delaware Bay is no secret to the shorebird community. It’s not even a secret in the wider environmental community. And while the details may be fuzzy, residents of the Delaware Bay region know that they have something important in their backyard. According to a phone survey of 400 residents, 95% believe that the bay is important for the region’s ecological diversity and environmental quality.

So if the story is known, then the conservation challenge goes beyond raising awareness to one of inspiring action. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and many other partners have been tackling that very challenge. The good news is that there are many organizations, communities, and individuals within the region with existing projects, opportunities for taking action, and untapped ideas. Recognizing that improved communication among themselves is the first step to improving engagement, stakeholders from the region have come together to build the Celebrate Delaware Bay Network. The Network’s goals are to improve communication; recruit additional, diverse stakeholders; and collaborate on implementing education and stewardship activities.

 “With each stakeholder bringing their strengths to the table, individual stakeholder efforts can be magnified and ultimately result in increased action,” said Laura Chamberlin, Manomet Center’s program coordinator for the Celebrate Delaware Bay Network. Since September 2013, Ms. Chamberlin has been coordinating the implementation of a bay-wide, social marketing-based campaign developed by Manomet Center’s Shorebird Recovery Project. The strength and success of this campaign lies in its collaborative strategies for conserving shorebird species and their habitats in Delaware Bay. The bay, spanning the states of New Jersey and Delaware, is a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance and a crucial stopover for the famed Red Knot, B95, among thousands of other long-distance migrants.

The first meeting that launched the Celebrate Delaware Bay Network took place in early January 2014. Thereafter, several working groups formed to keep momentum going on actions identified. Additional communication tools were also established, including shared talking points and volunteer actions, a listserve, and follow-up meetings. The Network currently has 21 members, but the door is open for more. Manomet Center will serve as the coordinator of the Network and its working groups; develop and manage a website, social media, and other outreach materials; and implement several action-oriented projects with partners.


Laura Chamblerlin, Program Coordinator for the Celebrate Delaware Bay Network / Courtesy of MCCS

With peak shorebird migration fast approaching in May, Network members are focused on further developing the network, communicating with each other, and collaboratively sharing and expanding critical projects like horseshoe crab rescue, beach stewards, and leadership engagement. Over the coming year, this initial collaboration will grow to include the development of art or creative engagement projects, new education efforts for students, integration with eco-tourism initiatives, and engagement of additional new audiences.

Ms. Chamberlin, native to the eastern shore of Maryland, came well-suited for the challenge. Her previous roles in the field of conservation focused on engaging people and working to change their behavior for lasting conservation benefits. In the Potomac Watershed spanning Washington, D.C., and four surrounding states, Laura led an extensive campaign against litter; in California, she carried out stewardship and education activities to help conserve public lands; and in Niger, West Africa, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer helping communities with agricultural and natural resource management. Laura is currently based in Delaware, USA.

Stay connected with the Network's many activities through its public Celebrate Delaware Bay Facebook page! (no account required).

For more information, please contact Laura Chamberlin (lchamberlin@manomet.org), Celebrate Delaware Bay Network, Program Coordinator, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.