Barn Swallow populations across North America are in sharp decline. But there's reason for hope: numbers of breeding pairs at the Stable building at the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte NWR, Hadley are increasing— the Stables at the Refuge hosts what is possibly the largest colony in MA, with over 35 nesting pairs this past season.
At an August 16 public meeting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated that they were soliciting public input on five potential options for the future of the Stables. At the meeting, the public was told that the first step would be a comment period during which the public was invited weigh in on the five options. This was to be followed by the drawing up of an Environmental Assessment (EA) by USFWS, then there would be another public meeting and comment period after the EA was shared.
The first comment period has ended, but the EA has not yet been shared. Yet USFWS is making major changes to the Stables that threaten its structural integrity — and therefore endangering these critical birds and throwing their recovery into jeopardy. These changes effectively eliminate several of the options presented at the public meeting on August 16, including those that the public and scientific experts deem most beneficial for the swallows. The USFWS is steamrolling this process and ignoring the needs of the birds.
Please urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to listen to both the experts and the community who want the birds protected and repair the roof of the stables.
Alternative structures don't work, and changes to the existing structure also threaten the colony. Saving proven, successful nest sites is the best way to slow the swallows' decline.