Chase and all:

Gas prices are definately taking a toll on my birding. In all honesty, I'm not 
as likely to get out in the winter anyway because I don't like to be cold, but 
last weekend, I fully intended to go to Eagle Bluffs, and it was the price of 
gas that changed my mind. I live in Jefferson City, and the trip to Eagle Bluffs 
is about an hour each way - nothing extraordinary but a jolt nonetheless. If gas 
prices continue to rise, or even stay the same, I expect that my hesitation to 
get out to the choice birding spots will persist through the warm weather. 

Amy J. Hoffman
Jefferson City
Cole County
 To the hungry, God's love can only reveal itself in the form of bread. -- 

From: Chase Darr <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thu, February 24, 2011 8:49:38 AM
Subject: RFI/Poll: Effect of Rising Gas Prices on Birding Trends

Hey all,

I'm interested in finding out the board's take on how gas prices affect your
habits as birders.  I wasn't involved in a birding community during the last
"crisis" in 2008, so this is my first time feeling like I have to decide
whether or not it's worth it to go to travel to get those rare birds that
pop up.  Yes, it's possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I'm a poor
grad student, given just enough to survive and not much more...when I then
have to choose between birding and eating because my fuel bill just shot to
$50 one-way...

Hopefully you can all appreciate how much more "economically troublesome" it
gets to bird when gas is so expensive.  I know for my part that going to
Eagle Bluffs drops my miles per tank by ~50-70 miles, a drop in gas mileage
from 32 mpg to 27 mpg just for one 2-3 hour trip!  I can only imagine what
SUVs would be like.

Maybe some of you are wealthy enough that you can afford big gas bills. 
However, since our demographic is made up largely of grad students and
retirees, it may be more of an issue than we'd like to let on.  If gas
prices shoot to $4 or 5 per gallon as "some people" are predicting (see any
newspaper or news website's front page in the last week...and the fact that
gas prices jumped $0.15 overnight at the mention of political unrest in
Libya), we could really feel the pinch of our gas-guzzling hobby.  Parks
like Eagle Bluffs CA, Bradford Farms, Columbia Bottoms, and others that
pretty much require a vehicle to cover properly as well as parks that are
out of the way and require a road trip to just get to them might see less
traffic than they have in the past year or two.

So my question is this: how much do you think increasing gas prices affect
your "birding mentality"?  Do you bite the bullet and continue?  Do you make
less trips?  Make more effort to bird in groups to defray the cost?  Do you
alter your locations?

I don't mean to seem like a Debbie Downer.  In fact, you'll probably see
quite a few posts from me traveling to Eagle Bluffs over the next few months
just like last year...but you're d*** right I'm gonna be more conscious of
my fuel consumption and will be turning the car off when I stop to look at
that 5th flock of probably 20 or so mallards in the distribution channel...

Look forward to your comments/responses,
Columbia, Boone Co., MO
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