Monkton man wins Silver Feather for wildlife work
MONKTON/MIDDLEBURY — The Otter Creek Audubon Society (OCAS) Board of Directors has awarded Chris Slesar of Monkton the organization’s 2015 Silver Feather award.
At its annual dinner last month, the OCAS bestowed the award on Slesar “in honor of notable devotion, dedication and untiring effort on behalf of the preservation and appreciation of the birds, other wildlife, and natural communities of Addison County,” according to the OCAS.
Slesar has been at the core of a multi-year effort to design, fund and construct two wildlife underpasses at a busy amphibian crossing between the Monkton Swamp and upland forest. A dream he has shared with Steve Parren of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, the underpasses came about by convincing the Vermont Agency of Transportation of their importance, undertaking major fundraising to augment state budgets and several successful grants, and creatively resolving design challenges.
In his position as Environmental Resources Coordinator for VTrans, Slesar was in the ideal place to promote and organize the project, according to OCAS. But his role went far deeper. His efforts generated a culture of conservation and an atmosphere of support for wildlife within VTrans. As the chair of the Monkton Conservation Commission and a board member of the Lewis Creek Association, he encouraged strong community support for the project and played a significant role in community fundraising from the town of Monkton and the Lewis Creek Association that covered the funding shortfall.
The underpasses, installed earlier this year, will reduce significantly the threat to large numbers of several species of amphibians that cross the Monkton Road to breed. In recent years half of the crossing amphibians never make it across the road on any given night