Category Archives: Advocacy

Help Protect Pollinators

Our priority bill to protect pollinator habitat in Massachusetts is up for a State House hearing this week!

Monarch butterfly (photo credit: USFWS)

Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and bats are in trouble. Factors like habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species, disease, and climate change are all to blame, and their impacts on pollinators also present a larger threat to biodiversity and food supply.

An Act to Protect Pollinators would establish a commission to investigate solutions that better protect and promote pollinators’ health. The bill would require the commission to include individuals with expertise in the protection of pollinators, wildlife protection and expertise in native plants.

You can help this bill pass!

If your state legislator is on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, ask them to quickly and favorably pass S.497/H.818 out of committee. Even if your legislator isn’t on the committee, you can ask them to urge the committee to support the bill.

Let them know that this legislation would set Massachusetts on the right path to a sustainable future for the pollinator species on which we rely for so much, from crops to ecosystem health.

Interested in other ways to help pollinators? Here are some ideas.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 4, 2019

The Value of Forests in a Changing Climate

Forests cover 60% of our state and play a crucial role in solving the climate crisis. Mass Audubon recently worked with other members of the Massachusetts Forest Forum to draft a statement about the need to prioritize forest conservation.

Climate Central

→ Amazon countries signed a forest pact to coordinate disaster response.
→ Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy gave some important advice to journalists covering climate change.
→ Can a wave of new technology slash natural gas leaks by detecting methane?

More Progress for Offshore Wind

The 804-megawatt Mayflower Wind proposal has been selected as the next offshore wind project to move forward in Massachusetts. When combined with the already-approved Vineyard Wind proposal, the two projects would meet the state’s current 1600-megawatt goal for offshore wind power.

Maintaining Protections for Coastal Ecosystems

Mass Audubon signed on to a letter with our partners opposing state legislation to exempt coastal resiliency projects from critical environmental protections. As currently written, the bill would negatively impact wetlands and other natural resources.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – October 21, 2019

Pledge to Help Green Transportation

In recent years, the transportation sector has surpassed power plants as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. Learn more about this shift and how you can help curb emissions.

Climate Central

Our climate change program manager participated in a Project Drawdown conference this weekend, an opportunity to share resources and strategies for creating climate solutions. Not familiar with Project Drawdown? Learn all about it here.

Supporting Rural Communities

Rural areas of Massachusetts can face different challenges than the rest of the state, from declining populations to limited fiscal resources. To help address these issues, a state Commission created the Rural Policy Plan, on which Mass Audubon provided input.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – October 7, 2019

Help Stop the Decline of US Birds

According to the first comprehensive review of bird population trends in decades, 29% of US birds have disappeared since 1970. Learn more about the issue and some Mass Audubon programs you can support to be part of the solution.

The Value of Nature in Narragansett Bay

This new report and website explore the $14 billion value of nature-based economic sectors in the Narragansett Bay Watershed. Mass Audubon partnered with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and others on this project, which aims to inform future decision-making in the region.

Climate Central

→ Massachusetts is the most energy-efficient state in the US
→ Climate change threatens the world’s fisheries
→ The multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative releases its draft framework
→ Massachusetts is among a the 23 states suing over vehicle emission standard rollbacks

Latest Round of MVP Funding Announced

The state has announced $8 million in funding for the latest round of Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program grants. This funding will help communities plan for climate impacts and implement priority adaptation projects. Learn more about MVP and how to apply for this funding.

Are You a Community Preservation Leader?

Our Community Preservation Coalition Steering Committee is expanding! As the CPA program has grown over the years, the Steering Committee hopes to grow along with it by including wide-ranging representation from member communities. Learn more.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – September 30, 2019

Attorneys General Sue Over Endangered Species

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading a lawsuit over federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) rollbacks. The ESA is needed more than ever in the face of climate change and habitat loss, and as Mass Audubon notes in the press release, reducing its protections now would be a big mistake.

Climate Central

→ New IPCC report: oceans and ice are absorbing the brunt of climate change
→ Most teens are worried about future climate impacts

Speaking up on Solar Siting

The state is reviewing its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program, which provides financial incentives for solar energy projects. We submitted comments expressing strong support for solar energy, but recommending it be located away from ecologically- and socially-valuable land.

State Funding Awarded for Land Protection

The state has awarded $12.9 million in grants to protect land and natural resources, create and restore parks, and increase climate resilience. This funding will help communities conserve 1,191 acres of land.

A Cleaner Future for Massachusetts

Last week at the State House, we testified on our priority legislation: An Act to secure a clean energy future (S.2005/H.2802). This bill would set Massachusetts on a clear path forward for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The climate of Massachusetts is already changing – and with it our natural lands, waters, and wildlife. These changes are affecting our health, the nature we love, and the natural resources on which we depend.

We still have time to correct our course and align the Commonwealth’s climate strategy with the best scientific data available, but we have to act quickly. S.2005/H.2802 will do this by ensuring the policies we put in place lower our greenhouse gas emissions while creating a flourishing clean energy economy.

Some of these goals include:

  • Setting deadlines for market-based compliance, like carbon pricing, by 2022
  • Increasing the number of state-owned electric vehicles
  • Incentivizing electric vehicle purchases for residents
  • Increasing access to solar panels
  • Setting minimum standards for energy storage on our grid network
  • Increasing offshore wind
  • Improving access to clean energy programs for environmental justice populations

You can help this bill pass! If your state legislator is on the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, ask them to quickly and favorably pass S.2005/H.2802 out of committee. Even if your legislator isn’t on the committee, you can ask them to urge the committee to support the bill.

Let them know that this legislation would set Massachusetts on the right path to reducing the impacts of climate change while we still can by expanding our reliance on, and access to, clean energy.

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.