Michael Sutton National Audubon Society's pacific flyway vice president, opened the Yosemite Area Audubon Society's 2013-2014 program season last week at the Mariposa Methodist Church with a slide presentation, "The Pacific Flyway: Superhighway in the Sky."
The flyway is an aerial superhighway stretching nearly 10,000 miles from Alaska to Patagonia. Each year at least a billion birds of some 350 species travel the flyway during their annual migrations north in the spring to their nesting grounds and south in the fall to their winter homes.
But this represents only a fraction of the birds that used the flyway a century ago. Many common birds, such as the western sandpiper, have become far less abundant habitat loss, water diversion for agriculture and development, diminishing food resources and climate change all threaten the birds of the flyway.
To combat this alarming trend, Audubon has been working for nearly 110 years to safeguard birds and their ecosystems in North America and beyond. Sutton's presentation will celebrate recent victories on behalf of birds and discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead along the Pacific Flyway.
"Mike Sutton personifies environmental achievement and leadership," YAAS president Lowell Young said. "We feel privileged that he accepted our invitation to speak in Mariposa, and we hope a large turnout of residents will take advantage of this uncommon opportunity to hear directly from this champion for conservation."
Sutton oversees Audubon's conservation programs, managing a $20 million budget and more than 100 professional staff in California, Washington, and Alaska as a member of Audubon's National Leadership Team.
In 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Sutton as a member of the California Fish and Game Commission and reappointed him in 2009. He was elected president of the commission in early 2013. He also serves as summer faculty at the Vermont Law School, where he teaches ocean and coastal law.
He recently co-authored a book, Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy, one of the most successful ever published by the American Bar Association. He has lectured at graduate seminars on conservation issues at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Tufts, and George Washington University.
Previously Sutton served for eight years as vice president of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where he founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans, the aquarium's conservation advocacy arm and currently serves as chairman of the Wild Salmon Center in Portland, Ore.
Birding trip Oct. 19
Yosemite Area Audubon will also offer its monthly birding trip Saturday, October 19, along Mariposa Creek from the Mariposa Art Park to the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.
Targeted for beginning birders, this three-hour walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the art park. The trip is free to the public. Bring binoculars, field guides, snacks and beverages, and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Details: (209) 742-5579.