Author Archives: Christina W

About Christina W

Mass Audubon's Advocacy Associate

Meet Our Team: Danica Warns

This month, our Shaping the Future of Your Community Program welcomed Danica Warns to the team as our new Southeast Regional Coordinator. She’ll be working with communities throughout the Taunton River Watershed to guide targeted land conservation and smart, sustainable development in that region.

Danica joins us from New York City, where she worked with NYC Parks to protect and restore wetlands throughout the City’s five boroughs, with a focus on volunteer stewardship of natural areas. While there, she engaged community members in wetland restoration and maintenance, aquatic wildlife monitoring, and migratory fish and oyster restoration. Working in the realm of land conservation in NYC, Danica has learned to identify and appreciate the pockets of natural areas that exist in a large city, and the importance of protecting these highly valuable resources.

Danica’s educational background is in coastal ecology, having received both her Bachelor’s in Marine Science and Master’s in Marine Conservation and Policy from Stony Brook University. She is also trained in science communication, and environmental outreach and advocacy have always been a focus of her career. She has previously worked with an environmental non-profit in Belize to communicate their research and monitoring work, on a whale watching boat in Cape Cod to monitor whale populations and educate passengers about marine conservation, and in an aquarium to inform visitors about marine life.

With a passion for finding nature’s hidden gems scattered across an overwhelmingly urban landscape, Danica’s mission is to introduce as many people as possible to the natural world around them and empower them to conserve and protect it. In her new role with Mass Audubon, she is most excited about the opportunity to help communities and land planners identify and protect local natural areas of importance and to continue to promote healthy coastal watershed management that benefits both people and nature.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – September 23, 2019

An Inspiring Day of Climate Strikes

Thousands gathered for the Global Climate Strike in Boston last Friday, where the crowd heard from youth activists and political leaders. Mass Audubon sanctuaries joined strikes statewide and beyond, including in Lexington, Northampton, Providence, Worcester, and Wellesley. Kudos to climate change program manager Alexandra Vecchio for organizing Mass Audubon’s partnership in this event, and to all who attended.

Climate Central

→ An estimated four million people worldwide turned out for the youth-led Global Climate Strike. Here’s a recap of this exciting day of activism
→ Youth activist Greta Thunberg draws attention to protecting forests as a climate solution.
→ The health impacts of climate change.
→ Energy efficiency can slash emissions and get the US halfway to climate goals.

Partnering on Wind Power

Mass Audubon is an event partner and speaker at next month’s American Wind Energy Association Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston. Momentum for offshore wind in the US is building, and this year’s event will feature sessions on ensuring its long-term success and reducing costs.

Speaking Up for Local Bird Species

Local bird populations are declining across Massachusetts, largely due to climate change and habitat loss.WBUR’s Morning Edition takes a closer look at these changes in a discussion with Mass Audubon’s Joan Walsh.

Preparing for Climate Change in our Communities

September 24-30th is Climate Preparedness Week, a movement dedicated to learning, service, and actions that better prepare our communities for extreme weather events.

Climate change is already impacting towns and cities across Massachusetts, from hotter summers and rising sea levels to more frequent severe weather events and inland flooding. Meanwhile, recent extreme storms like the devastating Hurricane Dorian are reminders that extreme weather events are only getting worse globally. So while we continue working toward reducing emissions and preventing the worst future climate change scenarios, we also need to get serious about preparing for the inevitable impacts we’ll continue to see.

© Andrew Dai

Massachusetts has been a leader on this front, from the first-in-the-nation State Hazard and Mitigation Implementation Plan, to the groundbreaking Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, which provides support for communities to begin planning for climate change. And at Mass Audubon, we’ve been working to support these efforts as MVP facilitators and advocates for adaptation planning and funding. But there’s still so much to do!

Ready to take action and help your community build resilience? Why not start by:

Need more reasons to get involved? Many climate preparedness strategies, especially those that take advantage of nature based solutions, also have co-benefits of improving public health and preserving natural resources.

Climate Preparedness Week is a great introduction to getting more involved in your local community while helping build climate resilience, and we know that connected communities are more resilient communities. We have a lot of work to do, but each person’s decisions add up. What starts with individual action can turn into collective action in a neighborhood, community, state, or even country. 

Find an event near you to get started today!

Fight Destructive Offshore Drilling

Update 9/16/19: Great news – all three bills passed in the House last week! Next, the Senate needs to take action. Thanks to everyone who contacted your members of congress!

Mass Audubon has been working to oppose a damaging expansion in offshore oil and gas drilling proposed by the Trump Administration, since the extraction of oil and gas through our oceans would have severe impacts on fisheries, wildlife habitat, and geological resources.

We had some good news earlier this year when components of the plan involving the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic were blocked in federal court. However, much of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are still at risk from expanded drilling, and the federal government will likely appeal the ruling, so it’s important that we keep fighting for protection of our coastlines.

Humpback whale. Photo credit: NOAA

Now we have a chance to do just that. A major vote in the US House of Representatives is expected this week on federal legislation that could make a big impact. The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941) would ban offshore drilling & seismic testing on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Please take a minute to contact your congressperson and ask them to support H.R.1941 when it comes up for their vote. Let them know that this protection is crucial for our vulnerable marine ecosystems and wildlife, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale. You can also remind them that Massachusetts and all of New England depend on a thriving coastal and ocean economy, and that success in turn depends on healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems.

While you’re at it, ask them to support these additional drilling prevention bills, which are also set for votes this week:

The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act (H.R. 1146) would restore protections against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Although the federal court has upheld protection for the Arctic Ocean against drilling, the Refuge could become open for drilling leases as soon as this fall.

The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act (H.R. 205) would extend protections into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – August 26, 2019

Photo credit: NOAA; NOAA; NASA

One More Way to Help Wildlife

Here’s another way you can help stop the recent federal Endangered Species Act rollbacks! Join our Coalition in asking your congressperson and senators to pass legislation restoring the ESA.

Offshore Wind Update

This week, the state will release public bids received for their second-round procurement of up to 800 MW of offshore wind energy. The final selection, to be made by the end of the year, should bring the state to its goal of 1,600 MW.

Climate Central

→ The Amazon is burning: a deeper look
→ 100-year floods could soon happen annually in parts of US
→ 10 Democratic presidential candidates will participate in CNN’s climate crisis town hall

Photo credit (R): MA DPH

State Reviewing SMART Solar Regulations

The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is looking for input on their SMART solar program. Following their initial review of the existing program, DOER is holding stakeholder meetings to share their results and collect feedback.

New Local Leadership at EPA

Welcome to Dennis Deziel, EPA’s new Regional Administrator for New England. Dennis brings over 20 years of federal government experience to the position, and we look forward to working with him.

Mosquito Alert

This summer is an unusually high-risk year for the mosquito-borne disease Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. While you’re enjoying the outdoors in these waning days of summer, be sure to take precautions. Learn more and see the most recent risk map.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – August 19, 2019

Save the Endangered Species Act

The federal Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most successful conservation laws, and it’s under threat. The Trump Administration has finalized changes that will significantly weaken protection for vulnerable species, but you can help fight them.

Rallying Support for Vineyard Wind

Vineyard Wind would be the first US industrial offshore wind project and has the potential to power more than 400,000 homes. Earlier this month, the project was delayed by the Interior Department. At a press event with our colleagues on Cape Cod, we spoke out about this unnecessary delay.

Climate Central

→ Greta Thunberg sets sail for U.N. climate talks
→ Rhode Island is the first of the lower 48 states whose average temperature has risen by more than 2ºC, and the rest of the Northeast isn’t far behind
→ It’s official: this July was the planet’s hottest month on record

Pesticides and Endangered Species

In addition to her pledge to take action on Endangered Species Act rollbacks, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy and ten other state attorneys general have opposed an EPA proposal that risks exposing endangered species to harmful pesticides.

Protecting the Endangered Species Act

by Christina Wiseman and Jenna Clemenzi

The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) is under threat. A bipartisan conservation law passed in 1973, the ESA defines species as “endangered” or “threatened” and requires federal agencies to protect them and their habitat. The ESA has a 99% success rate, and has helped bring species like the bald eagle and humpback whale back from the brink of extinction.

The ESA is especially important today, as we face the threat of a mass extinction of up to 1 million species. This drastic decline in species would be detrimental to our health, food security, and economies. The ESA is also strongly supported by the American public, with 90% expressing support in a recent poll.

Bald eagle chicks. Photo credit: USFWS

An Uncertain Future

Despite the ESA’s popularity and bipartisan passage, some members of Congress have made 150 efforts to weaken the act in the last two years, largely due to pressure from extractive industries that believe the law restricts business.

Last week, the Trump Administration announced their final changes to ESA regulations, which significantly threaten the law’s effectiveness.

These changes include:

  • Allowing economic impacts, rather than solely the best available scientific data, to be considered when determining the protection status of a species
  • Weakening of protections  for species deemed “threatened”
  • More flexibility in determining how species will be impacted in the “foreseeable future,” effectively allowing the effects of climate change to be disregarded

The changes allow the coal, oil, gas, and timber industries to have a greater say in the management of threatened and endangered species and their habitats. In order to ensure the continued survival of these species in the United States, the ESA needs to be restored to its full capacity.

Humpback whale. Photo credit: NOAA

Fighting Back

You can help stop the dismantling of the Endangered Species Act!

  • Call or email your Congressperson and ask them to hold hearings on saving the ESA
  • Ask Senators Warren and Markey to stop the rollback using the Congressional Review Act
  • Thank Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for her defense of the Act – she plans to sue the Trump Administration over these changes

Mass Audubon has spoken out about this issue before, and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve reached out to Attorney General Healey in support of her legal appeal, and have offered to work with her office in defending the ESA in federal court. As founding members of the US Endangered Species Coalition, we condemned the decision to weaken the ESA, and weighed in about impacts these changes could have locally here in Massachusetts.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – August 5, 2019

Help Cut Peak Energy Use

Cities are especially vulnerable to the rising temperatures that come with climate change, thanks to factors like the heat island effect. Find out why and discover one simple thing you can do to help.

State Budget Success

Governor Baker signed the FY20 budget last week, which included funding for Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum and a permanent increase for the CPA Trust Fund. Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators and Governor Baker about supporting these programs!

Climate Central

→ Boston is holding a public hearing on their Community Choice Energy Plan to increase renewable energy use
→ The growing carbon footprint of ride hailing in Massachusetts
12 books about climate change solutions for your summer reading list

Expanding the MVP Program

Massachusetts is seeking Regional Coordinators for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. The positions will support communities through the MVP process and help them advance climate resilience projects. Think you’d be a good fit? Learn more & apply >

Harnessing the Wind: A New Resource for Offshore Planning

The heatwaves we’ve been experiencing this summer are a good excuse to get to the beach, but they’re also a reminder that we’re already starting to experience the impacts of climate change. One of Mass Audubon’s top climate change mitigation priorities is the responsible development and use of offshore wind, which could bring more than 4 gigawatts of clean, renewable energy to Massachusetts.

Offshore wind is a critical component to US emissions reduction and has the potential to create thousands of jobs. But we need to make sure the industry grows responsibly, and set clear guidelines for minimizing environmental impacts.

A North Atlantic right whale and calf

Harnessing the Wind: How to Advance Wind Power Offshore, is a new resource produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council in collaboration with Mass Audubon and other partner groups. This guide outlines how we can tap into US offshore wind potential in a way that’s also protective of ocean life, and identifies the top challenges, along with proposed actions, toward accomplishing that goal.

Whether it’s placing projects outside of sensitive habitat areas or reducing underwater noise, taking these measures up-front will ensure the offshore wind industry continues to grow in a way that works for wildlife, people, and the planet.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – July 29, 2019

Greenworks Bill Passes House

Speaker DeLeo’s “Greenworks” bill, which would develop a state grant program for resiliency and clean energy projects, passed in the House last week. Members of our Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition helped improve the bill to include more nature-based solutions and environmental justice criteria, among others.

Climate Central

→ CNN will hold a Democratic presidential town hall focused on the climate crisis
→ Boston is America’s top-rated city for clean energy!
→ Many species aren’t adapting fast enough to withstand climate change
→ Automakers struck a deal with California on improved efficiency standards, despite a federal push to roll them back.

Greening Transportation Workshops

State agencies will hold more community workshops in August to gather input for a regional, low-carbon transportation plan. Part of the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative, these workshops will focus on how to reduce emissions and make our transportation systems more resilient and equitable.

Taking Action on Chemical Contamination

We signed on to testimony in support of bills that would establish an interagency task force on the group of chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS chemicals threaten both public and ecosystem health through groundwater contamination, and the state needs a plan to improve their management.

Upholding Hydropower Regulations

Mass Audubon was also among 70 groups opposing a state proposal to change the way hydropower generators are certified as river-friendly facilities. The change would allow a qualified project to retain that status regardless of environmental changes or needed updates, which could negatively impact river systems.