Kudos to you Jody and to all who contributed to this discussion. Hopefully a 
relatively small group of informed people can make a multi billion dollar 
institution (my guess) change for the better for our environment. 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jun 27, 2021, at 2:42 PM, Jody Enck <jodye...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello birders,
> After receiving lots of input, ideas, and resources from many of you, I put
> together the letter below and sent it to the President and one of the Vice
> Presidents at Cornell (as noted in the letter).  Thanks to all who have
> expressed their concern and who provided important input to this very first
> step in developing a solution.  Special shout out of thanks to Nancy
> Cusumano for her initial contact with the President, and to Suan Yong, Josh
> Snodgrass, and Ken Rosenberg for comments on an earlier draft of the
> letter.
> Martha E. Pollack
> President, Cornell University
>                                           26 June 2021
> Dear President Pollack,
>             I am writing as Chair of the Conservation Action Committee of the 
> Cayuga Bird Club to communicate and amplify public dismay about recent, 
> poorly-timed mowing for forage hay crops on Cornell lands during the peak 
> nesting period for grassland bird species listed as being of special 
> conservation concern by the New York State Department of Environmental 
> Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  I have been contacted 
> by many local birders, including farmers and members of the Cornell 
> University community who are saddened and angry about the situation.  Recent 
> research lead by Cornell scientists and published in the journal Science (see 
> Rosenberg, K. V., et al. 2019. Decline of the North American avifauna. 
> Science 365(6461)) found that nearly 3 billion birds have been lost from the 
> U.S. and Canada just since 1970.  Populations of grassland bird species like 
> Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and 
> others have declined the most, down 53% in aggregate, accounting for more 
> than 720 million grassland birds.  Poorly timed mowing of hay crops, 
> especially throughout the Northeast, is a major contributing factor in the 
> decline in grassland bird populations. 
>             Rather than contributing to the problem, Cornell can help remedy 
> population declines of grassland bird species by developing a plan for 
> sustainable management of the substantial acreage of hayfields and other 
> non-woody habitats under the University’s control.  The Cayuga Bird Club 
> stands ready to collaborate with Cornell in developing a plan.  We already 
> have accumulated relevant documents about research and practices aimed at 
> timing of mowing and other management actions that would be of great use in 
> developing a Cornell sustainable grassland management plan.  For example, 
> mowing earlier in the season before establishment of nests and when growing 
> hay is of high forage quality can have nearly as much conservation benefit as 
> delaying mowing to a time when quality of the hay forage is lower.  We also 
> have established contacts with federal and state natural resource agencies 
> who are knowledgeable of possible financial reimbursement opportunities for 
> which the University may qualify. 
>             Cornell University has an opportunity to be a leader among all 
> Land Grant Universities by developing a model grassland management plan that 
> could be adopted by other institutions throughout the Northeast and beyond.  
> Such a management plan also could be consistent with Cornell’s sustainability 
> initiatives.  While the current initiatives are laudable, the focus on 
> renewable energy, transportation and built environments, and even economic 
> sustainability miss an important need.  All of these actions are means to 
> achieving the fundamental end of a full and functioning ecosystem of which we 
> humans are a part and are on which we are dependent for our survival.   
>             The modern concept of “sustainability” emerged fairly recently in 
> the famous 1987 Brundtland report, “Our Common Future”, prepared for the U.N. 
>  In that report, sustainability was described in terms of conserving the 
> ecosystems and natural capital which are necessary for the basic needs and 
> well-being of humans.  The fundamental end of sustaining ecosystems and 
> natural capital is noticeably missing from the Sustainable Cornell website.  
> Indeed, it was unclear what individual from Sustainable Cornell would be the 
> most important recipient of this letter.  I am copying Vice President, Rick 
> Burgess, on this letter because he responded to Nancy Cusumano when she 
> expressed her concern about mowing.  Also, I think it is somewhat ironic that 
> one of four Cornell Chronicle articles headlined on the website of the Office 
> of the President at Cornell, under the heading “Academic Distinction”, is 
> this headline about the Science article I referenced earlier: “Nearly 30% of 
> birds in the U.S. and Canada have vanished since 1970.”   Knowledge about the 
> plight of birds exists at Cornell, but does the administration have the 
> willingness and commitment to actively address that plight?
>             Finally, it is worth noting that the Cayuga Bird Club has a long 
> history of collaborating and engaging with other institutions and groups, 
> most recently including the Cornell Botanic Gardens.  We are actively working 
> with the Botanic Gardens, the City of Ithaca, and several other partners to 
> restore native plants to the regionally-rare, seasonally flooded forests at 
> the south end of Cayuga Lake. This work demonstrates how much we value 
> engagement and collaboration, just as Cornell University does.  We would like 
> to help Cornell become a regional or national leader in sustainable 
> management of grassland habitats on university properties.  Members of the 
> Cayuga Bird Club look forward to meeting with the most appropriate group of 
> administrators to discuss this pressing need.
>                                                        Sincerely,
>                                                        Jody Enck
>                                                        Chair, Conservation 
> Action Committee
>                                                        Cayuga Bird Club
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