December 13, 2019

Sprague’s Neck to be designated `watchable-wildlife area’

CUTLER — A ceremony set for Tuesday at the Naval Communications Unit at Cutler will mark the first “watchable-wildlife area” to be designated within the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. The ceremony also will mark the northeast region’s first Ecological Reserve Area.

The ceremony, set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, will feature Jacqueline E. Schafer, assistant secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment. Representatives from several state and federal wildlife, conservation and government offices are expected to participate.

The Watchable Wildlife Program was developed by a group called the Defenders of Wildlife in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Land management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

According to a statement released by Eileen A. Robinson, public affairs officer at NCU Cutler, the program includes “a network of wildlife viewing opportunities sponsored by state, federal and private conservation organizations.”

In addition to establishing the watchable-wildlife area at Sprague’s Neck, near the radio antenna field at NCU Cutler, the Navy will sign a memorandum of agreement with the Nature Conservancy for cooperative management of the Sprague’s Neck Bar ecological reserve area.

The reserve area features more than 19 species of shorebirds and a variety of waterfowl, offering “exceptional bird watching opportunities,” Robinson said.

Sprague Neck and Sprague Neck Bar are on Sprague Neck Peninsula at the Navy base. The area is considered a major gathering place for birds, which number in the “tens of thousands,” according to Robinson.

Among the species known to frequent the site are black-bellied plovers, semipalmated sandpipers and, in smaller numbers, buff-breasted sandpipers.

Sprague Neck Bar is one of more than 15 designated natural areas on Navy property. They include seven national wildlife refuges, one state wildlife refuge, two Navy research natural areas and two other ecological reserve areas.

Access to the Cutler watchable wildlife area will be controlled because of Naval security at the radio antenna site. However, group visits to view and study wildlife and ecological features within the area are encouraged. They can be arranged through the NCU Cutler Public Affairs Office at 259-8203.

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