Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blucher Park Improvements Press Release


Blucher Park Improvements are for the BIRDS...

Birders and Nature Lovers will benefit too!

(Corpus Christi, TX - February 20, 2009) Almost half of the seven million visitors that flock to Corpus Christi each year are bird watchers and nature lovers. The Coastal Bend is the perfect place to view birds and is one of the top birding destinations in the world located at the point where two migration 'super highways' converge. Hundreds of different bird species stop to rest and fuel during spring and fall migrations. And Blucher Park is one of the major "Fall Out" or resting stops along the way.

Blucher Park provides a green space in the heart of downtown Corpus Christi. Several footpaths have been created throughout the park to allow visitors a chance to explore the natural surroundings of the park. Known worldwide the park attracts bird watchers year round in search of flycatchers, thrushes, vireos, warblers, chimney swifts and dozens more species. This densely wooded park with a small creek flowing through its center contributes to the coveted title, "America's Birdiest City" claimed by our city six years in a row.

Just a little over 4 acres in size, Blucher Park was donated to the city by the Blucher family in 1914. In 1990 a small group of birders raised $5,000 from Conoco Phillips and committed to the creation of a richly diverse bird habitat in Blucher Park. To this day, some of those same birders meet at the Park every Monday afternoon during daylight savings time to clean and maintain it. They call themselves the "Blucher Bunch" and can tell you where nearly every plant in the park originated. Their passion and knowledge of Blucher Park is priceless.

The Blucher Park Enhancement Project was generated from the Coastal Bend Nature Tourism Initiative, a project of the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau. Keith Arnold, President/CEO of the CVB, believes "Growing and marketing nature tourism in the Coastal Bend is the answer to gaining new business from leisure travelers. Birding, hunting, wind surfing and kite boarding, wildlife photography, fishing, kayaking, etc. are exceptional in the Corpus Christi region. As we work to package these products to increase essential visitor spending, it is equally important that the CVB serve as a catalyst and a facilitator to improving our nature sites and experiences. Blucher Park was selected as a model project for enhancement of an existing site that draws international nature tourists, but with meaningful, thoughtful improvements can migrate from a good attraction to a great attraction."

The improvements will include a defined trail system mulched with native wood chips, pedestrian bridge, seating stones, way-finding markers, removal of invasive plants and a chimney swift tower kiosk. The Chimney Swift (a cigar shaped bird with slender wings) is believed to be declining in numbers, partly due to the disappearance of many old chimneys. To help conserve the Chimney Swift the CVB is designing a chimney shaped tower above the kiosk to provide the much needed habitat for the birds to roost and nest. The project will also include signage, graffiti removal, improved park maintenance, and increased bike patrols. The total expenses for the enhancement project including in-kinds services totals $85,710.

The CVB has committed a dollar for dollar match up to $50,000 to support this and several other park improvement projects in the city. In addition the American Birding Association (ABA) has granted $2,500 to the project as part of their Convention Conservation Project. Richard Payne, President of ABA commented, "We are very proud to join the Corpus Christi CVB as well as the City of Corpus Christi in recognizing the value of such a remarkable urban oasis and sharing that desire to enhance its habitat value for the birds that reside and visit there." ABA will be hosting their convention in Corpus Christi this spring. The support of financial partners and grants will help the CVB and its Coastal Bend Nature Tourism Initiative stakeholders the ability to improve several sites throughout the area that can draw significantly more visitors when improved, interpreted and packaged for aggressive marketing.

The Nature Tourism Initiative is currently in Phase II of the planning stages for an interactive website, informational kiosks and marketing collateral with the assistance of Fermata, Inc., a Houston-based nature consultant firm. The Coastal Bend alone has an impressive 153 nature & birding sites in the area available to bird watchers and nature lovers year round.

Contact:

Michelle Horine
Communications Director
Corpus Christi CVB
361-881-1818 office
361-446-4152 cell
361-888-4998 fax
mhorine@cctexas.org


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coastal Bend Shines in Great Backyard Bird Count

The 2009 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) has finished its four-day run (the last day being Monday, President's Day) and Coastal Bend communities lead the nation! Corpus Christi reported the most species in the nation (176). Rockport is third (160), Aransas Pass is tied for fifth (152), and Kingsville is in ninth with 146.

The GBBC is an annual four-day event when birders count the birds they see in the backyard, at their feeders, at a neighborhood park, even at a local wildlife refuge. Participants count birds anywhere for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period. They tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count web site.

The GBBC engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event.

According to count organizers (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, National Audubon Society), as the count progresses anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or anywhere in the United States and Canada. They can also see how this year's numbers compare with those from previous years. Participants may also send in photographs of the birds they see. A selection of images is posted in the online photo gallery.

Check the GBBC website to see a current list of the top cities. For 2009, though, the Coastal Bend has hold on four of the top ten spots!