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National Audubon VP Speaks On Pacific Flyway

The Yosemite Area Audubon Society (YAAS) is pleased and honored to announce that Michael Sutton, the National Audubon Society’s Vice President, Pacific Flyway, will open its 2013-2014 program season Thursday, Oct. 10, with a slide presentation, “The Pacific Flyway: Superhighway in the Sky.”

The Pacific Flyway is an aerial superhighway stretching nearly 10,000 miles from Alaska to Patagonia. It encompasses fewer U.S. states and more Globally Important Bird Areas than any of the other three flyways in North America. 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. Some species, such as the black-footed albatross and least tern, are in serious trouble. Even 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 October 10 presentation at the Mariposa Methodist Church parish hall in downtown Mariposa, beginning at 7:00 p.m., 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 local residents will take advantage of this uncommon opportunity to hear directly from this champion for conservation.”

Michael Sutton is a social entrepreneur and conservation leader. He 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. Mike 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, George Washington University and the University of Rhode Island.

Previously Mike 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. He had earlier helped establish ocean conservation programs at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where he founded the London-based Marine Stewardship Council.

He currently serves as chairman of the Wild Salmon Center in Portland, Oregon, on the boards of Ocean Champions and COMPASS, and on the advisory boards of the Ocean Foundation, the Sea Change Investment Fund, the Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Program and LightHawk.

For more than a decade before joining the WWF staff, Mike served as a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a National Park Service ranger in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Biscayne and Virgin Islands national parks and Death Valley National Monument.

He had previously earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from Utah State University, pursued studies in marine biology at the University of Sydney, Australia, and received a law degree in international and natural resources law from George Washington University’s National Law Center in Washington, DC. In 2013 Utah State University honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

Yosemite Area Audubon SocietyLike all YAAS programs, Sutton’s presentation is open and free to the public, although donations to defray program costs and to support Audubon’s local activities are welcome.

Yosemite Area Audubon will also offer its monthly birding trip Saturday, Oct. 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 and the public is welcome. Bring binoculars, field guides, snacks and beverages. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

The mission of the National Audubon Society, the namesake of noted 19th-century naturalist and bird painter John James Audubon; its state affiliate, Audubon California; and local chapters such as the Yosemite Area Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.

About Len Mckenzie

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