Gary is the Vermont Birder Guy
Connecting people to nature through birds
In the late 1990s I, Gary aka “The Nunn (CO) Guy”, was given a bird feeder as a gift. Having seen birds coming to the feeder I thought “more feeders, more birds.” I was right in my assumption I then began seeing birds in a variety of colors and shapes at the feeders. I needed a set of binoculars and a field guide to find out who these birds were. A birder was born.
The next step in my evolution as a birder was receiving an newspaper article talking about the new Great Florida Birding Trail from my mom. I wondered what this might be and investigated it. In my research I discovered the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail (the originator of the birding trail concept). I thought to myself “Colorado calls itself the great outdoors, where is our birding trail?” As an IT professional I created the Great Pikes Peak Birding Trail for the five counties surrounding Colorado Springs. Instant hit! It quickly garnered the support of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, local Audubon, media and business. Long story short, a few years into it our state stood up the Colorado Birding Trail Steering Committee and the Colorado Birding Trail was born!
Soon after that “social media” was born and I turned my thoughts to how to engage our citizens by “connecting them to nature through birds.” I developed two birder social networks and that really energized my efforts towards conservation and my role in it.
I participated on the multi-partner Wildlife and Biological Resources Working Group which helped to shape new Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rulemaking to implement Colorado Senate Bill 19-181. Our guiding principles were:
- Reflect the paradigm shift in SB-19-181 that amended the Oil and Gas Act to ensure that wildlife, the environment and biological resources would be protected in the future.
- Implement a landscape-scale and ecosystem-wide approach to planning and protections.
- Provide for a cradle-to-grave approach of protecting wildlife and biological resources during all phases of oil and gas operations, including direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts.
- Include “biological resources” in 1200 Series protections, to reflect the Act’s requirement of protecting biological resources.
a. Rename the current 1200 Series (Wildlife) rules “Protection of Wildlife and Biological Resources (1200 Series)”
b. Define “Biological resources: fish, wildlife, rare plants, priority plant communities, important plant areas, pollinators, important bird areas, and their aquatic and terrestrial habitats.”
c. Add a new stand-alone “Biological Resources” rule that addresses identifying and protecting them, per the definition.
d. Just as COGCC consults and confers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (“CPW”) on wildlife resources, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program should be utilized as a database for information on biological resources, and recognized in the rules as such.
- Protect High Priority Habitat (“HPH”) and other valuable biological resources through avoidance.
- Expand the current draft Rule 1202.c list of HPH based on the best available science. The rule should be expanded to reflect relevant sources of scientific information regarding conservation priorities for Colorado wildlife and biological resources.
- Incorporate climate science both to protect at-risk ecosystems and habitat including the principles of resilience and adaptation; and ensuring that life cycle GHGs from oil and gas development are consistent with Colorado climate goals.
Fast forward, 2019-2020, I completed Colorado State University’s graduate-level “Nonprofit Administration” certificate and started the completing of their “Conservation Communications” certificate. This led to my “Friends of the Pawnee National Grassland” birding organization, the result of this educational endeavor.
We moved to Vermont in late May 2022. I came up with “The Vermont Birder Guy” handle!