CHARLOTTE – The Matthews Environmental Advisory Committee is encouraging area residents and business owners to help protect birds by turning off nonessential lights during migration periods  from March 15 to May 30 and Sept. 10 to Nov. 30. 

Gordon Miller, who chairs the committee, approached town commissioners with a “lights out” resolution to reduce the number of bird collisions with windows. The Mecklenburg Audubon Society counted 536 bird deaths in downtown Charlotte over a multi-season collection period. 

“We’re on the eastern skyway,” Miller said. “Major cities in North Carolina have taken this up and embraced it.”

He specifically mentioned cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Asheville.

Mayor John Higdon remembers one hotel in San Diego that took extreme measures to protect migratory birds. Guests were given flashlights to guide them to their rooms in pitch black darkness.

Higdon said it would be helpful if the environmental advisory committee offered the board more concrete examples to hand out to residents. Miller said they are working on it. Commissioners are likely to vote on the resolution soon after those examples are presented.

“This is really a public information situation where we can help the environment by very simply flipping the switch,” Miller said. 

“A ‘Lights Out Matthews Campaign’ would reduce light pollution, prevent avian collisions with structures of all types and save money by way of reduced energy use and resulting carbon footprint,” according to the resolution. 

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