The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation got its start more than a decade ago (albeit under a different name) with the mission of monitoring a bird that appeared to be in trouble–from acid rain, mercury contamination, lead sinkers, and other environmental threats. Now it appears the researchers are in trouble.
Nina Schoch, coordinator of the center, hopes to raise about $20,000 over the next few weeks to hire field staff to monitor loon nesting on some ninety lakes across the Adirondack Park. She has had monitors in the field for the past eleven summers, but she doesn’t have enough money to hire them this year.
Schoch said the loon monitors check lakes to see where the birds are nesting and then follow the progress of the reproductive cycle from the laying of eggs to the fledgling of the chicks. For a variety of reasons, some eggs do not hatch and some chicks do not survive. Without monitors in the field, Schoch said, “we won’t be able to tell the cause of nest failure.”
The loon population has been growing in recent years, but Schoch said the birds, icons of the North Woods, still bear watching as they serve as barometers of ecological health.
The center, which is affiliated with the Biodiversity Research Institute, relies on state grants, charitable foundations, and private donations to fund its research. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has helped fund the research in the past and expects to do so again.
“Pending approval, NYSERDA anticipates funding the loon monitoring project at approximately the same level as last year. NYSERDA provided $40,000 for the ADK loon project last year, and we are reviewing BRI’s request for more than $42,000 per year for the next five years, to provide stability to the loon monitoring program,” a spokeswoman said in an email.
The problem, Schoch said, is that one of its foundations could not give the center money this year.
Initially, the center faced a $35,000 shortfall, but some private donors have helped close the gap in recent weeks.
“It’s been fantastic the response we’ve got from our private donors. They really came through,” Schoch said.
To make up the difference, Schoch is making a general appeal to the public for contributions. Click here to make an online donation. You also can email Schoch directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The center also will raffling a loon quilt. Tickets are $5 each or 6 for $25. The drawing will be October 13 at the Paul Smiths VIC as as part of an Adirondack loon celebration. For more information, click here.