Nozzolio Announces Opening Of Montezuma Audubon Center

Michael F. Nozzolio

September 25, 2006

State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio has announced the opening of the Montezuma
Audubon Center (MAC) in the Northern Montezuma Wetlands Complex in the Town of Savannah, Wayne County.

Senator Nozzolio cited the new center, located in an area known as an important habitat for hundreds of different species of resident and migratory birds, as an important component of on-going, collaborative efforts to protect wildlife across the State. Audubon New York will operate the center, with assistance from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in the planning of educational and interpretative programs and exhibits.

"The opening of the Montezuma Audubon Center is the culmination of years of hard work and will help ensure that Savannah is among the top spots in the nation to observe and learn about wildlife and nature," said Senator Nozzolio. "I would like to thank Governor Pataki for his commitment to this project and his leadership to make this day a reality. The Montezuma Audubon Center is an excellent example of how our local and regional economy can benefit from preserving and protecting our environment."

Governor Pataki designated the Montezuma Wetlands Complex as a BCA in 2000, which provides for protection and enhancement for birds and bird habitat, as well as expanding opportunities for bird watching and outdoor enjoyment. The site also is named as an Important Bird Area by Audubon NY.

The BCA is part of a larger complex of State, federal and private lands. Its habitat includes high quality wetlands bordered by deciduous forest, shrubs and open agricultural fields. The site hosts one of the largest migratory concentrations of waterfowl in the Northeast. In addition, the Montezuma area provides quality waterfowl hunting on designated public lands.

The Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) will complement the Montezuma BCA
designation by providing public access, research, education, and wildlife-related recreation opportunities. The Center is located approximately 1.5 miles north of the Hamlet of Savannah and is west of NYS Route 89 immediately north of the Crusoe Creek.

The 5,200-square-foot single-story building will offer a year-round environmental education programs, exhibits and presentations. The MAC contains a large exhibit area, classroom, nature store, office area, auditorium, and meeting room. A wall of windows offers a panoramic view of restored grassland and marshes. On site, two freshwater marshes have been restored, 50 acres of native grasses have been planted, a one-mile hiking trail has been constructed, and an all-access observation platform has been built.

The total cost of the Center is $2.7 million, which came from State, federal and local sources. More than 50 percent of the MAC is constructed from recycled products and it is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. DEC will apply for certification as a "Green Building" upon final building commissioning and submission of associated LEED documentation. The LEED certification is based on energy efficiency for heating, cooling and lighting; the use of recycled and other environmentally-friendly materials; and indoor environmental quality. The center will also have 100 percent of its electrical needs purchased through a green power energy provider.

Governor Pataki also announced 16 new BCAs across the State. New York State’s Bird Conservation Area Program, modeled after the National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Areas Program, was signed into law by Governor Pataki in 1997. The program is designed to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats on selected state-owned lands and waters.

The BCAs being designated includeBear Swamp in Cayuga County: a 3,316-acre State Forest, located in the Town of Sempronius, that supports a tremendous diversity and abundance of forest bird species.