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CT Senator George P. McLean and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act at New Haven Museum


New Haven, Conn. (March 18, 2024) – Connecticut’s Senator George P. McLean helped establish lasting legal protections for birds, overseeing passage of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), landmark environmental protection legislation that is still in effect today. Will McLean Greeley, McLean’s great, great nephew, will discuss that vital victory during a time of widespread corruption and political instability in a Zoom lecture, “Birdman of the Senate: Senator George P. McLean and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” for the New Haven Museum on Thursday, May 2, 2024. at 6 p.m. Register here. The free event will also stream on FB Live, and is co-presented with the New Haven Bird Club.


Conservationists estimate that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has saved millions if not billions of birds and likely prevented the extinction of many bird species. Greeley says the MBTA also ushered in the watchdog role of the federal government over the environment, adding, “Its passage was a victory for bipartisanship in Congress, something most Americans long for today.”


Greeley will base his presentation on his book, “A Connecticut Yankee Goes to Washington: Senator George P. McLean, Birdman of the Senate,” putting McLean’s victory for birds in the context of  the senator’s distinguished 45-year career. Greeley grew up with a deep interest in his ancestor’s life, especially his years in the Senate. “McLean’s name was in the headlines on the 100th anniversary of the MBTA in 2018,” Greeley says.  “I decided then to learn more about him and embarked on four-year research and writing journey culminating in my book.”


Greeley hopes that attendees gain a deeper appreciation for McLean’s role as an important conservationist who persevered for seven years in the U.S. Senate to get the milestone legislation passed, despite opposition from hunting groups, business interests, and states-rights advocates.  He says, “It is also a reminder how difficult it is to lead change, and how courageous leaders like Senator McLean are needed to protect our environment for future generations.”


As an introduction to Greeley’s presentation, Craig Repasz, former president of the New Haven Bird Club and current conservation chair of the club, will discuss the conservation crisis in the United States and the founding of environmental organizations across the country, with a focus on the New Haven Bird Club’s founding in 1907. Repasz is holds a B.A. in the history of science and medicine from Yale College and has published articles on medical sectarianism and changing conceptions of disease. He has served as coordinator of volunteers for the Connecticut Bird Atlas project, is President of the Friends of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and is on the board of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.


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