A central Maine conservation organization has been awarded a grant to support bird conservation in the region.

The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, based in Bath, has earmarked funds to expand and strengthen a bird monitoring program on its preserves in the region, according to a press release from the Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative.

The $5,000 grant to the land trust will help pay for a volunteer bird monitoring program and toward increasing the use of an online program that allows people to record what birds they see, according to Becky Kolak, the land trust’s program director. The land trust serves several coastal communities and areas that stretch inland to include Dresden and Richmond.

“We want to create a volunteer bird monitoring program, plus increase and promote the use of the eBird online observation program in the Kennebec Estuary region,” Kolak said. The funds will enable them to make bird conservation a more prominent objective in their land acquisition and management decisions, she said.

The Kennebec Estuary includes Merrymeeting Bay, the lower Kennebec River and surrounding uplands. It extends from Woolwich to the Gulf of Maine between Phippsburg and Georgetown. The upper estuary at Merrymeeting Bay provides 4,500 acres of waterfowl habit; the lower estuary runs 15 miles between forested uplands and rocky shorelines, across mudflats and through salt marshes.

The Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative was formed in 2013 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Land Trust Alliance.

The Cornell Lab received nearly 80 proposals for the grants, which were established specifically to bring attention to strategic conservation for birds. Loss of habitat is one of the most severe threats that birds face and land trusts contribute greatly to protecting and managing important habitats.

“When it comes to conserving private lands, land trusts are leaders and play an increasingly important role in conserving birds and biodiversity in North America,” said Amanda Rodewald, the director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab.

Additional grants will be awarded next year.

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