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Audubon Society
of Rhode Island
Raptor Weekend 2014

September 6 & 7
10am-4pm

Audubon Environmental
Education Center
1401 Hope Street
Bristol, RI 02809

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Home arrow History arrow A Brief History
A Brief History PDF  | Print |  E-mail
In 1897, a group of concerned Rhode Island citizens bands together to fight the mass slaughter of birds for the needless use of plumage in the fashions of that era. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island was born.
  • Ten years after its origin, in 1907, the Society has 1,300 members - a number than has grown to more than 17,000 today.
  • The 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty Act abolishes feather hunting nationally.
  • In the 20th Century's early decades "environmental education" becomes a reality as Audubon teaches local students with a very strong presence on Block island.
  • The Kimball Bird Sanctuary in Charlestown, which was deeded to Audubon in 1924 so that visitors could view the birds that nested and migrated there, becomes the Audubon's first property.
  • As the 20th Century progressed, additional parcels of wildlife habitat acreage are added to the burgeoning Audubon wildlife refuge network. Noteworthy among the growing refuge network were George B. Parker Woodland, Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, Seekonk's Caratunk Wildlife Refuge, and Eppely Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown.
  • In the 1950s, the Audubon began formalizing its "environmental education" programs, reaching out to area schools and students.
  • The Rhode Island Red is selected as the state's official bird in 1954.
  • From 1958-1987, the Audubon's headquarters resided at Bowen Street on Providence's East Side.
  • In the fall of 1961, the first adventurous birders took part in the Audubon's premier Block Island Birding Weekend - a tradition that endures today.
  • Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is published and stuns readers everywhere.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, Audubon stood in the vanguard of the battle to ban DDT in Rhode Island. Among the first state's to curtail the toxin's use, the Federal government instituted a national ban in 1972.
  • The ASRI Report, Audubon membership's newsletter, sees its first edition published.
  • In 1971, Audubon leadership and environmental advocacy lead to the creation of the Rhode Island Wetlands Act.
  • By 1980, the Society's refuge network totals more than 4,000 acres.
  • The now-famous Audubon Great Expeditions program was begun in 1981. Since, thousands have traveled to naturally rich settings in the Eastern United States and Canada for bird-watching and nature observation.
  • That same year, the Society organized and led the state's first Coastal Cleanup - an event that still exists and seems to grow larger each year.
  • In 1983, the Audubon hosted its first-ever birdathon, during which 182 collective species of birds were identified.
  • By 1986, Audubon had promoted and supported passage of Rhode Island's statewide recycling program through the General Assembly.
  • In 1987, Audubon moved its headquarters to Powder Mill Ledges Wildlife Refuge in Smithfield, allowing visitors to enjoy birding and programming on 120 acres of woodlands and wetlands, surrounding the Society's administrative offices..
  • The early 1990's saw the opening of the 1,000-acre Fisherville-Brook Refuge, Exeter and the Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge with diverse habitats in Warren.
  • In 1991, Audubon opposes the use of processed drinking water for industrial cooling.
  • Audubon and staff spring to action for triage and treatment of stricken sea creatures and waterfowl during the 1996 North Cape oil spill crisis.
  • Also in 1996, the 235-acre woodland that is the Florence Sutherland Fort & Richard Knight Fort Nature Refuge, North Smithfield, opens for public enjoyment.
  • As of 1997, Audubon was teaching environmental education to 15,000 kids.
  • In 2000, the Audubon's $3.5 million Environmental Education Center in Bristol opened. The state-of-the-art exhibitions and dioramas enthrall visitors, preparing them to understand and experience the surrounding refuge habitats and wildlife.
  • In 2002, Audubon dedicated the Claire D. McIntosh Wildlife Refuge in Bristol, which surrounds our Environmental Education Center and offers diverse wildlife habitats such as woodlands, fields, meadows, salt marshes and shoreline.
  • Audubon establishes the Land Legacy Fund in 2004 to ensure we have the resources to protect habitats we steward for maximum wildlife benefit.
  • In April 2004 the Audubon announced its groundbreaking Environmental Education for Urban Schools Initiative, which provides critical environmental programming to enhance school science curricula in underserved communities.
  • Today, Audubon is the largest private landowner in the state, maintaining and managing a 9,500-acre refuge system, which includes nearly 30 miles of trails for public use that form the state's largest wildlife refuge system.
  • Today, the Society teaches about 33,000 school children annually - at schools and Audubon sites - with the primary focus being at the award-winning ASRI Environmental Education Center in Bristol.
  • Today, the Environmental Education Center houses modern exhibits and the state's largest public aquarium. Located on a breathtaking wildlife refuge, rolling from upland meadows to the Narragansett Bay shore, the Center attracts thousands of visitors yearly.
 

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12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, RI 02917 ~ 401-949-5454
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