The History of the Connecticut Audubon Society
The Connecticut Audubon Society (CAS) was founded in 1898 by Mabel Osgood Wright, a pioneer in the American conservation movement. From our beginning, we have focused on our mission of conserving birds and their environments in the State of Connecticut through science-based education and advocacy.
Connecticut Audubon Society received its first land donation in 1914 through the generosity of philanthropist Annie Burr Jennings of Fairfield. With Ms. Jenning’s gift of 10 acres, Mrs. Wright created Birdcraft Sanctuary, the first-of-its-kind songbird refuge in the nation, and literally laid the groundwork for Connecticut Audubon Society. The Museum at this Sanctuary was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
CAS’s 5 Centers and 19 Sanctuaries give us a presence throughout the state and across all of Connecticut’s habitats.
- In 1971, we opened our Center at Fairfield, which is adjacent to the 155-acre Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary, with its varied land, forest, and freshwater wetland ecosystems.
- In 1981, we opened our Center at Glastonbury, which promotes awareness of the Connecticut River ecosystem and the birds and habitats it supports.
- In 1982, Trail Wood, the Edwin Way Teale Memorial Sanctuary, once the home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning naturalist and writer, was donated to CAS.
- In 1982, the Richard G. Croft Memorial Preserve in Goshen, which represents a forest ecosystem, was donated to CAS.
- In 1995, we opened our Coastal Center at Milford Point, which is adjacent to the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area, and also provides access to the Long Island Sound and its many habitats, including tidal salt marshes, tide pools, and coastal dunes. This Center was designated an Important Bird Area in 2002.
- In 2000, we opened our Center at Pomfret, which is adjacent to our 700-acre Bafflin Sanctuary, with its extensive grasslands habitats. This Sanctuary was designated an Important Bird Area in 2004.
Since 1974, CAS has contributed to every major environmental initiative in Connecticut through our Hartford-based advocacy program. We offer enlightened leadership on key issues, advise on environmental policy, and promote environmental, conservation, and other public policies that will protect birds and their habitats, preserve open space, and strengthen land management practices. Since 2006, we have published an annual Connecticut State of the Birds report, which highlights conservation, environmental, and science priorities in the state.
We are a partner in conservation with the state. In 1986, we entered into a long-term agreement to serve as stewards of property at Milford Point. In 2007, the Department of Environmental Protection named us as Chair of the Connecticut Grassland Commission.
Starting in 2008, CAS has worked on environmental projects for corporations and governmental entities. We have a long-term agreement with DuPont to serve as stewards of property at Stratford Point. We have an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to provide wildlife and flora studies and data analyses for its facilities in Thomaston, Middlebury, and Plymouth.
For over 110 years, the Connecticut Audubon Society has provided educational programs for schools, families, and adults; worked on conservation projects and stewardship of our land; supported Citizen Science projects that contribute to our knowledge of the environment; sponsored museum exhibits and nature-related programs; and traveled throughout the world to explore areas of natural and cultural importance. Going forward, we will expand our science-based, educational, and advocacy work to further promote conservation of the environment and of Connecticut’s birds and their habitats.