Indian River Lakes Conservancy

Photo credit: IRLC

Why Bird Conservation?

The Indian River Lakes Conservancy (IRLC) is all about connections; connections among conserved land areas, connections among organizations, and connections between people and the land. Located in northern New York along the Atlantic Flyway and in close proximity to the St. Lawrence River, the area serviced by IRLC is ecologically unique and supports an impressive diversity of birds, including the declining Golden-winged Warbler. Board President Elliott Hillback, Jr. stated, “We recognized early on that we had a unique area, and we had to be thoughtful about the area. Over time we’ve expanded and we started to be on the watch for other species.”

Spotlight Resource: St. Lawrence Valley Partnership for Golden-winged Warblers

In partnership with the Thousand Islands Land Trust, Audubon New York, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the New York State Department of Conservation, and Clarkson University, the St. Lawrence Valley Partnership for Golden-winged Warblers has taken flight. This collaborative project aims to raise awareness about the importance of the St. Lawrence Valley for breeding Golden-winged Warblers and create and maintain habitat for the imperiled species. Partners have worked together to create habitat demonstration areas, offer workshops for land managers, and develop educational materials for local residents and visitors.

IRLC is also making good use of conservation, education, and outreach resources from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, including eBird for data on bird abundance and distribution and Bird Academy for online educational resources about birds and biology.

Also beneficial to its outreach, IRLC has showcased this collaboration with the message, “the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is bringing you this effort through your friendly local land trust, Indian River Lakes Conservancy,” says Vice President Mark Scarlett. This message gets attention from visitors, members, and donors for both the land trust and the Lab.

Indian River Lakes Conservancy-IRLC (2)
Volunteers are shown surveying for Golden-winged Warblers at the Indian River Lakes Conservancy Grand Lake Reserve. Photo credit: IRLC

Advice for Other Land Trusts

Hillback and Scarlett highlight their work with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a way to open doors, reiterating the value protecting birds and habitat has for a land trust. As Hillback explains, this successful, symbiotic relationship between the land trust and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology serves as an excellent prototype for other small land trusts looking to conserve birds and their habitats. Scarlett is excited about the partnership and calls the relationship a game changer.

Note: The Cornell Lab is proud to have the Indian River Lakes Conservancy as a partner organization of our Land Trust Initiative. We are grateful for their contributions to our work with land trusts.

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