Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Assessing WHSRN Sites in the Atlantic Flyway


Between April and July, in five separate workshops from Canada to the United States to Argentina, WHSRN site managers and other partners gathered to assess the overall ecological/social/economic condition, threats, and actions needed at their existing or candidate WHSRN sites—six in total—using the WHSRN Site Assessment Tool (SAT).

Simultaneous SATs in action. / © Meredith G. Morehouse

The results will help to inform not only future management decisions at these sites, but also our broader understanding of the obstacles or threats to shorebird conservation in the Atlantic Flyway. This can also inspire new lines of coordinated actions among partners, especially for Arctic-nesting species.

These five workshops were organized and facilitated by Manomet’s WHSRN Conservation Specialist Meredith G. Morehouse, with invaluable coordination support from site partners and funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Service (NFWF) and the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The assessments help to advance the goals of the international initiatives these agencies are supporting: the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative (AFSI) and the Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative (AMBI), respectively.

Bay of Fundy workshop / © Meredith G. Morehouse

Bay of Fundy, Canada: Conducted this April during a joint meeting with AMBI leaders, hosted by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in Sackville, New Brunswick, with CEC funding. Participants completed four SATs simultaneously (“Threats” worksheet), one for each major shorebird area in the Bay of Fundy: Shepody Bay, Minas Basin, Cumberland Basin, and Cobequid Bay. Partners are working to modify the original WHSRN boundary to include the latter two areas. The 15 participants in the SAT session, including co-facilitator Julie Paquet (CWS), represented nine organizations: CWS, Mount Allison University, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Nova Scotia Bird Society, Bird Studies Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Departments of Natural Resources, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, and Ducks Unlimited Canada. 

James Bay workshop / Courtesy of Garry Donaldson

James Bay, Canada: Conducted this June during a 2-day conservation planning meeting with members of the Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) in support of advancing the nomination of southern James Bay as a WHSRN Site within their Homelands. The meeting, held in Timmins, Ontario, was organized by Nature Canada with CEC funding. The 14 participants in the SAT session included co-facilitator Ted Cheskey (Nature Canada); members of the MCFN, the Cree Nation of Waskaganish, and the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council; and Garry Donaldson and Christian Friis of Canadian Wildlife Service.


Cape Romain workshop / Courtesy of Meredith G. Morehouse

Cape Romain, USA: Conducted this June at Santee Coastal Reserve in McClellanville, South Carolina, thanks to coordination support from Felicia Sanders of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and funding from NFWF. The WHSRN Site currently consists of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Partners are working towards modifying the WHSRN boundary to incorporate six more areas that are important for shorebirds on State-owned and one privately owned island (approx. 50 coastal miles in all). The eight participants in the 2-day SAT workshop represented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SCDNR, and Dewees Island.

Altamaha River Delta + GA Barrier Islands workshop / Courtesy of Meredith G. Morehouse

Altamaha River Delta + Georgia Barrier Islands, USA: Conducted this July in Brunswick, Georgia, with funding from NFWF and coordination support from Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR). Partners in this 2-day joint workshop simultaneously completed a SAT for the Altamaha River Delta WHSRN Site and for a candidate area encompassing more than 100 miles of coast and barrier islands. The latter is also a priority conservation area for the CEC in support of AMBI, and partners are working towards nominating it as a WHSRN Landscape. Partners also are working towards modifying the Altamaha River Delta’s WHSRN boundaries to incorporate an important island for shorebirds. The 13 workshop participants, including co-facilitator Tim Keyes of SCDNR and co-organizer Brad Winn of Manomet, represented 8 organizations: SCDNR, Manomet, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Little Saint Simons Island, St. Catherines Island, 100 Miles (nonprofit organization), National Park Service, and Georgia Sea Turtle Center. 

Bahia Blanca workshop / Courtesy of Mirta Carbajal

Bahia Blanca, Argentina: Conducted this July in Villa del Mar, Buenos Aires Province, at the Foundation for Receiving and Assisting Marine Animals (FRAAM) headquarters, with funding from NFWF. Pablo Petracci of the National University of the South's GEKKO research group (and representative for Bahia Blanca on the Argentine WHSRN Council, along with Martin Sotelo) and Mirta Carbajal of Inalafquen Foundation (and President of the Argentine WHSRN Council) provided invaluable coordination support for the 2-day workshop. They also served as primary facilitators, following remote training sessions with SAT coordinator Meredith Morehouse who couldn’t attend. The 21 participants, including managers from each of the six subsites that comprise Bahia Blanca WHSRN Site, represented 12 organizations such as National University of the Sur, Inalafquen Foundation, EcoHuellas, FRAAM, Guardianes del Mar, scientific institutions, fishing and hunting club, tourism industry, and federal, provincial, and municipal agencies.

In total, the five workshops brought together 71 people from 37 different organizations who, together, manage an estimated 887,000 acres (360,000 hectares) and 150 coastal miles of shorebird habitat in these three countries. Up to four more workshops are being planned for October-November.

For more information, please contact Meredith G. Morehouse (mgmorehouse@manomet.org), WHSRN Conservation Specialist, Maine, USA, or the site partners named above.