by Kylie Armo
Hello again! This is Kylie, Mass Audubon Conservation Policy Intern, back with another report on my summer endeavors. Many of my latest experiences have provided me with the chance to learn from the organizations and individuals around me, while others have allowed me to contribute skills of my own.
Inspiring Learning Opportunities
Throughout the summer I have been able to learn about Mass Audubon and conservation in the Commonwealth by attending a variety of seminars and workshops. These events have ranged from a talk at The Nature Conservancy on building climate change resilience to weekly educational lunch sessions hosted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) for Boston environmental and legislative interns.
Located in Worcester over an expanse of 430 acres, Broad Meadow Brook is the largest urban wildlife sanctuary in New England and serves as a “sanctuary in the city” for the residents of the Worcester.
During my visit, I learned that they are currently in the process of renovating their visitor center, and are using Low Impact Development (LID) techniques to do so as sustainably as possible.
LID is an approach to land development that works with nature to manage water runoff, and includes the use of practices and tools such as rain barrels, permeable pavers, and “no mow” areas. Benefits of LID solutions include the reduced flooding, improved water quality, and protection of natural landscape features.
It was amazing to learn about and view first-hand BMB’s purposeful growth, ultimately aimed at servicing future visitors in a positive, accessible and eco-conscious way.
Writing & Research Contributions
As a Mass Audubon intern, I have also had opportunities to support the Legislative Affairs office’s development of communication materials through an assortment of writing and research projects.
Opportunities to write have arisen not only through this blog series, but through other forums as well. On behalf of Mass Audubon, I recently wrote a letter to the Senate President and the House Ways and Means Chair urging them to override Governor Baker’s budget cuts as they slashed funding for the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency dedicated to supporting arts and culture in Massachusetts. Securing funding for environmentally-oriented organizations and programs is a significant component of Mass Audubon’s advocacy work.
I’ve also taken on a few small research projects digging into background materials and sources on current legislative issues and writing projects. Recently, I did some investigating into “climate change lawsuits”: court cases that are being brought against state agencies and corporations by citizens claiming that the greenhouse gas emissions emitted and permitted by these organizations is a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine, the principle by which the government holds in trust designated resources (such as navigable waterways) for public use and benefit. These individuals are attempting to leverage the judicial system to protect our climate and future generations, and their cases are a fascinating component of the intricate relationship between climate change and the political system.
My time engaging with environmental and political matters at Mass Audubon this summer is nearing its end, but I am excited to continue learning from and participating in the environmental advocacy field in the weeks that remain!
Kylie Armo is Conservation Policy Intern, Summer 2016