PUT-IN-BAY — Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial officials want to do their part to ensure the safety of migratory birds as they pass through South Bass Island.
Beginning Sunday, the memorial will implement a plan to reduce its impact on migratory birds while maintaining the cultural significance of the monument through its associated nighttime illumination, a fundamental design feature of the site.
“It is important to recognize the competing resource values and preserve the cultural significance of the monument while reducing the risk it poses to birds,” said Park Superintendent Barbara Rowles in a news release.
Thanks in part to a Scientists in Parks work experience program intern, the park was able to devise a plan to allow for limited illumination of the monument while also protecting the many migrating birds that move through the area.
The park's current light management plan calls for the monument’s lights to be turned off during peak passage times for birds during spring and fall migration.
During the month of May and September, the monument’s lights will be shut off two hours after sunset as the number of birds in the air generally peaks around midnight.
The United States Coast Guard navigation lights will always remain on to meet safety regulations.
The monument will be illuminated on special occasions and anniversaries, including the anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie and Memorial Day.
According to the National Park Service, artificial light poses one of the greatest threats to the billions of birds that migrate each year.
Birds largely migrate at night and artificial light is known to attract and disorient them.
This can cause birds to collide with buildings or miss stopover sites during their migratory journey.
By turning the lights off two hours after sunset, the park will be assisting the many species of birds that move through the area or stop on the island.
As the monument implements its new lighting plan for migratory birds, it is also preparing for two major projects that will help maintain park infrastructure, improve visitor services, address deferred maintenance, and provide resiliency for potential climate impacts.
According to a news release, one of the projects will repair and restore the park’s seawalls.
The seawalls protect the memorial from wave action, ice push and effects of climate change.
Started in the spring of 2022, the project should extend the seawall life cycle up to 40 years.
The construction contract for the seawall project was awarded for $25 million and is being funded through the National Park Service’s line-item construction program, which addresses the repair or replacement of high-priority facilities in national parks.
The other project will restore the structure that supports the upper plaza and will begin in 2023.
This project is estimated at more than $20 million and will address critical structural degradation, make the restrooms and plaza spaces compliant with current accessibility standards, update building utility systems to meet current demands and address condensation issues under the plaza and within the column.
Historic materials will be reused to retain the character of the plaza.
The surrounding parking and sidewalks also will be updated to improve visitor access to the memorial.
The upper plaza project is being financed through the Great American Outdoors Act’s (GAOA) National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund. Supported by revenue from energy development, the fund provides the National Park Service with up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.
GAOA is part of a concerted effort to address the extensive maintenance backlog in the national parks.
Together the two projects will help protect the monument for future generations and improve the visitor access and experience of the site, according to the release.
These projects will address more than $60 million of National Park Service deferred maintenance associated with these facilities at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.
This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Put-in-Bay monument changes lighting plan to help migratory birds