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!
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 >
Update 8/5/2019: Great news – Governor Baker signed the FY20 budget last week, and it included these CPA funding increases. Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators and Governor Baker in support of CPA!
The Community Preservation Act (CPA) helps cities and towns preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. Since it went into effect in 2000, CPA has been adopted by 175 communities (50% of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns), and has helped preserve 29,289 acres of open space.
When a city or town votes to adopt CPA, they agree to add a
small surcharge to local property taxes, which goes into a dedicated fund for these
projects. In exchange, they receive matching funds from the Statewide CPA Trust
Fund, which is generated from Registry of Deeds recording fees.
As the number of CPA communities has increased, however,
Trust Fund payouts to CPA communities have declined. Fortunately, we now have a
chance to change that pattern.
The FY20 budget has been sent to Governor Baker’s desk for his final approval, and it includes a long-overdue increase to recording fees from $20 to $50 – a change that would provide the Trust Fund with an additional $36 million per year! The budget also includes a one-time transfer of $20 million to the Trust Fund from the state’s FY19 tax collection surplus.
Combined, these fixes would stabilize CPA and boost future matching funds for communities to use in local projects.
You can help make this happen! Our Community Preservation Coalition has launched a campaign to generate hundreds of phone calls to the Governor’s hotline, urging him to sign the bill. It only takes two minutes – please call today and let Governor Baker know it’s time to #SaveCPA!
Our Shaping the Future of Your Community program is hiring! We’re looking for a Southeast Regional Coordinator to help promote smart development and protect natural resources in the Taunton River Watershed and South Coast.
Today kicks off National Pollinator Week! Massachusetts is home to hundreds of pollinator species like bees, butterflies, beetles, and hummingbirds that are vital to fruit and vegetable crops and ecosystem health. Pollinators are threatened by pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss, and many species are in serious decline.
The good news is, there are lots of ways you can help:
Contact your state legislators in support of our priority pollinator bill, which would help protect more of their habitat here in Massachusetts.
Attend a pollinator program at Mass Audubon, or visit one of our wildlife sanctuaries with a pollinator garden to see their benefits firsthand.
Donate to Mass Audubon to fund pollinator-friendly management practices on our lands, create more gardens with native plants, and teach others how to make their land more welcoming to pollinator species.
Mass Audubon supports the Green New Deal, but the US Senate has been unwilling to seriously discuss the climate’s breakdown. In the meantime, Massachusetts should step up at the state level. The latest Op Ed from our advocacy director dives into this idea.
Support for Darker Night Skies
We submitted testimony in favor of legislation aimed at darker night skies. Brightly lit buildings can disorient migratory birds, and reducing unnecessary outdoor lighting would not only help protect wildlife, it would reduce emissions and save money.
A Battered Buffer
Mass Audubon weighed in for this Boston Globe article on the plight of the North Shore’s Great Marsh. The area is one of New England’s most vital coastal ecosystems, but climate change poses a threat to its survival.
Offshore Wind and Whales
With partners, we commented on the Vineyard Wind project’s latest phase of permitting, which deals with marine mammal impacts. Our letter focused on ensuring species like the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale remain protected as the project moves forward.
Across Massachusetts, communities are taking
their energy decisions into their own hands.
Climate change is the single greatest threat
facing the nature of Massachusetts, and we are already seeing its effects as warming temperatures, shifting seasons, and
rising sea levels are disrupting the behavior of our wildlife and the
ecosystems that support them. For their part, many communities are taking
measures to prepare for impacts like extreme precipitation and flood risks, completing
vulnerability assessments and developing action-oriented plans to improve
But we still have an opportunity to prevent the worst of these impacts from occurring, if we take bold and immediate action. For our part, Mass Audubon has eliminated all carbon emissions from electricity use through the purchase of renewable electricity and through on-site generation of solar power from our own 44 photovoltaic arrays.
Local efforts to reduce emissions at the community level are another crucial way to make a difference. That’s why many
communities have started incorporating renewable energy components into their Community
Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs, allowing them to take control over their
Massachusetts state law, CCA programs enable
a city or town to choose the electricity supplier for its residents and
businesses. When adopting a CCA
model, communities also have the opportunity to increase the renewable energy content of
their electricity supply.
For example, the Green Energy Consumers Alliance’s “Green Municipal Aggregation” model recommends communities add at least 5% more Class I renewable energy per year into their electricity supply, compared to the 1% per year required by the state through their Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). Some communities also choose to set their initial base percentage higher – Brookline, for instance, has set their base percentage at 39% compared to the state’s 14%, and the City of Newton recently made the decision to set theirs at 60%!
Some communities, like Newton, Somerville, and all 21 towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard have chosen to offer customers the option to “opt up” to 100% renewable energy by purchasing Class 1 Renewable Energy Certificates equal to their total electricity consumption for an additional fee.
We encourage communities to support the adoption of CCA programs that incorporate the strongest renewable energy component possible, including by increasing the percentage of electricity from Class 1 renewable sources beyond what is required by the RPS.
Our Shaping the Future of Your Community Program is excited to welcome Paige Dolci as our new Outreach Assistant. She’ll be helping to develop materials and engage communities about the value of “ecosystem services” provided by our forests and water resources.
Paige joins us after serving with TerraCorps at Sudbury Valley Trustees. Over the span of a year, she coordinated native pollinator plantings with local organizations, conducted outreach and held trainings for citizen science initiatives, and organized youth environmental education workshops. Her favorite project while there was a collaboration between SVT, Framingham Parks and Recreation, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Framingham. The partners worked together to plant a new pollinator garden close to downtown Framingham, helping promote pollinator conservation in a high-visibility area.
Paige graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Analysis and Policy. As an undergrad, she explored various disciplines, assisting with research on climate change and nutrient cycling in New Zealand, completing a directed study on public health and environmental justice, and interning in Mass Audubon’s Legislative Affairs Office where she developed communication and web materials on pollinator protection legislation.
Paige has become increasingly passionate about climate change, access to green space, and encouraging a more sustainable, equitable use of ecosystem services. When she is not engaging with these topics, Paige enjoys spending time outside, stopping her cat from eating the houseplants, and getting innovative with tofu. Paige is excited to rejoin Mass Audubon and use her strengths in public outreach to help the Shaping program increase its impact!
Most recently, Lauren is a graduate of UMass Amherst’s MS Sustainability Science program, where she focused her work on climate resilience and green infrastructure planning. During her time at UMass, she served as a Sustainability Fellow with the City of Somerville, where she updated the City’s greenhouse gas emissions inventories and supported community engagement around the City’s Climate Action Plan. One standout memory from that time was helping organize the Plan’s launch event, including a “green carpet” where guests were photographed making their own climate action pledges, from ideas like taking public transportation to going vegan.
Lauren has always been driven to understand what inspires people to take action and make change, prompting her to study communication and human motivation as an undergraduate at McGill University, in her hometown of Montreal. This background served her well in her early career as a marketing and business development consultant, helping small business owners develop strategic communications and business plans. During this time, Lauren was a consultant for three different establishments all named after birds: Cardinal (a tea room), Sparrow (a gastropub), and Magpie (a pizzeria). Seems like destiny that she should now find herself at Mass Audubon!
Lauren is also the co-founder of Paperbark Literary Magazine, a journal of creative sustainability. She is looking forward to bringing her skills and passion for local planning to the Shaping program.