Update on Hog Island Planning
From David Yarnold, Audubon President & CEO
To the Friends of Hog Island and other members of the Audubon family:
As you may be aware, the website, Working Waterfront yesterday published an article about Audubon’s plans for Hog Island. While it painted a vivid picture of what has made the island such a special place and conservation resource for 75 years, the article was much less accurate regarding the status of Audubon’s planning for the property.
We are grateful for the generous support we have received from the Friends of Hog Island and others to ensure that this treasure will continue to be a place for discovery, inspiration, and conservation. And for all concerned about this special place, here are the facts:
Q. Is it Audubon’s intent to close the Hog Island education programming?
A. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are exploring a relationship with Kieve-Wavus Education, with the intent of strengthening Hog Island’s long-term sustainability.
Q. Is there a deal for a transfer of property ownership, as the Waterfront reported?
A. No. We are currently in negotiations. Details of a potential agreement, including specifics related to property ownership, have not been finalized.
Q. Why is Audubon considering a new approach for Hog Island at all?
A. Audubon is committed to the ongoing preservation of Hog Island’s biodiversity and wilderness. And we treasure the transformational education and conservation experiences its programs have provided. However, for more than a decade, Hog Island has faced financial challenges related to running and operating residential camp programs, including increasingly high operational costs, shifting consumer travel choices, and changes in the camping industry.
Q. Did Audubon just decide to do this based on a home office decision?
A. No, in 2009, Audubon and Maine Audubon conducted a comprehensive assessment of the camp’s programming, marketing, and operations. We received substantial input from many stakeholders as we explored potential solutions that would preserve the island’s wilderness and allow for the continuation of educational programming. We concluded that collaboration with a strategic partner would offer the clearest path to achieving our goals.
Q. How did you choose a prospective partner? What’s their reputation?
A. Our assessment led us to our current discussions with Kieve-Wavus Education, a local nonprofit organization whose camps “promote the values of teamwork, kindness, respect, and environmental stewardship” for youth and adults. Audubon and Kieve-Wavus have been working together informally for more than 30 years, and we have been working more closely together in the past two years. Kieve-Wavus Education has an excellent reputation for offering high-quality active-learning educational experiences for young people for the past 85 years. Our discussions are continuing and may offer exciting new opportunities to engage a wider audience in conservation education.
Q. So, are campers going to be able to continue to enjoy the birding experience at Hog Island?
A. We are committed to finding a solution that will ensure that future generations will be inspired by their experiences at Hog Island like the campers who took part in this past summer’s inspiring and successful programs.
Q. Are next year’s programs in limbo?
A. No. Steve Kress and his team have already put together a terrific line-up for next summer’s programming.To check the schedule and availability please go to http://www.projectpuffin.org/OrnithCamps.html.