This site is under construction. Please keep checking back to get updates. In the meantime, here is a brief introduction to what we are all about.
In 2011, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) conducted a demographic and economic study regarding birding in the United States. The study found that in 2011 there over 47 million individuals in the United States over the age of sixteen who regarded themselves as birders. Of these 47 million, over 2 million were Michigan residents. In addition, the study estimated that birders spend approximately $41 billion on trips and equipment for the purpose of birding, generating a total economic impact of over $107 billion!
Over the last few years, many regions in Michigan have developed birding trails with the purpose of attracting birders to their area. The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, The Superior Birding Trail, The Sleeping Bear Birding Trail, The Beaver Island Birding Trail, The Sunrise Coast Birding Trail, and the North Huron Birding trail have all now been established. Information regarding each of these trails can be found on Michigan Audubon’s website at http://www.michiganaudubon.org/go-birding/birding-trails/.
Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet Counties host a wide variety of protected areas and habitats that attract a large number of Michigan’s over 400 bird species. Whether it is a pair of nesting, federally endangered Piping Plovers, a Snowy Owl visiting for the winter, or the many warblers and waterfowl that pass through the area on their way to and from their breeding grounds, the tip of the Northwest Lower Peninsula offers exciting birding opportunities. Local parks, nature preserves, and natural areas make prime birding locations easily accessible and also highlight local conservation efforts.
With this in mind, a group of individuals and conservation related organizations in these counties are developing the Sunset Coast Birding Trail. The trail will provide information about birding in this region and highlight sites that provide prime birding opportunities to encourage birders to visit the area. Primary sites will be highlighted on a website, a printed map, and will also feature signage at the site itself. There will be approximately 30 primary sites on the birding trail – roughly ten per county. Because a printed map has limited space in which to feature sites, additional sites that offer good birding opportunities will be identified that will be featured on the website only.
The trail will also point visitors to other local amenities and attractions such as hotels/campgrounds, restaurants, museums, and other tourism oriented establishments. Birders visiting the area will need a place to eat, place to stay, and may also shop and visit attractions. Given that the prime birding months span from September through May, visiting birders can provide a boost to the local economy during the slower seasons.
Successful birding trails in more than 20 states are demonstrating that trails bolster economies, bring people closer to nature and create support for conserving habitats. The Sunset Coast Birding Trail will offer a unique opportunity to showcase the diverse natural features of Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties and generate an economic benefit to the local communities.