Category Archives: Advocacy

State Releases New Resilient Lands Initiative  

three tree swallows on wood posts in a salt marsh and water
Tree Swallows

On January 4, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) released the Resilient Lands Initiative (RLI) Vision. We’re thrilled that this framework to protect and improve the quality of life for residents of every Massachusetts community through nature conservation and stewardship initiatives was among the final actions of the Baker Administration. 

EEA engaged with stakeholders across the Commonwealth when it developed the RLI Vision, and it reflects many of the goals defined in Governor Healey’s Climate Plan—namely those focused on Natural and Working Lands. Importantly, it also supports the incoming Administration’s aggressive goals for affordable housing. 

The actions outlined in the RLI Vision will help the Commonwealth achieve its climate goals, reduce vulnerability to climate impacts such as urban heat islands and coastal flooding, improve water quality, and protect wildlife and natural systems. What’s more, RLI used two lenses in shaping its objectives: 1. diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and 2. climate change.  

Nature-based climate solutions are essential to improving the quality of life for every resident of the Commonwealth and for meeting our 2030 and 2050 Climate Roadmap imperatives. The RLI Vision is an important framework that should be used to ensure that nature does its part in meeting these critical needs.   

As part of Mass Audubon’s Resilient Landscape goal of our Action Agenda, we are dramatically expanding our efforts to protect, restore, and steward the state’s most important natural lands. Working in close partnership with others, we aim to conserve an additional 150,000 acres of the Commonwealth’s most important and biodiverse habitats, bringing the percentage of protected land in the state to 30%. The RLI Vision is another huge step toward achieving this goal. 

There is much work to be done, and we’re thrilled that the “menu-based” approach offers many potential actions to choose from as future capital budgets are developed, legislative agendas and regulatory updates considered, and decisions on policy and programmatic options contemplated. 

Mass Audubon and the hundreds of advocates that participated in developing the RLI Vision stand ready to support and assist the Healey Administration as it implements its ambitious goals and objectives for climate, resilient lands, and affordable housing.  

Advocating for Nature in D.C.

During the week of December 5, Mass Audubon President David O’Neill and team visited Washington, D.C. to meet with Federal leaders about policies and funding opportunities to advance Mass Audubon’s nature and climate objectives.  

Vice President of Policy & Advocacy Michelle Manion, President David O’Neill, Chief of Staff to the President Margo Mercer, and Director of Conservation Science Jeff Collins

During meetings with members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and their staff, and officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of Interior (DOI), Mass Audubon thanked them for their support, encouraged their leadership on specific pieces of legislation, and explored ways to drive new resources to Action Agenda priorities.

Topics Discussed

Some of the specific topics discussed included:

  • Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), which passed the House in the summer of 2022. The bill provides financial and technical assistance to states, territories, and DC for recovering species listed as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act or state law. Additionally, the funds would also support efforts to keep species from needing to be listed in the first place. For Massachusetts, RAWA would provide the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife with $14 million annually to help 570 species in need through habitat restoration, species reintroduction, and research. 
  • Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which also passed U.S. Congress this summer, including $370 billion for climate and clean energy measures. In Massachusetts, the IRA’s funding will be a vital complement to the state’s ambitious goals to achieve net-zero by 2050. 
Collins, O’Neill, and Rep McGovern

The team met directly with Rep. McGovern, Rep. Keating, Rep. Trahan, and met with staff from Rep. Clark and Rep. Neal’s offices. RAWA was a topic of particular interest, because while the bill passed the House in the summer, it has not yet been passed in both chambers. Our hope is that an Omnibus Federal Funding Bill will be passed in the next few weeks and that it includes RAWA.   

In addition to seeking continued support for RAWA, the Mass Audubon team sought support for the 17-acre Forbes project in Chelsea. The vision for the Forbes property is to create more than 12 acres of greenspace accessible to the surrounding under-resourced communities, build affordable housing units on the site, and to provide nature-based educational programming. Mass Audubon, in partnership with local organizations GreenRoots and The Neighborhood Developers, and the City of Chelsea, is committed to making this project a reality for the residents of Chelsea. While Chelsea is not in the districts of the Reps. that the team met with, every Rep. expressed their support for the project and committed to signing a joint letter that will be sent to DOI, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Lastly, a conversation with Rep. McGovern brought up the opportunity for small towns in rural Massachusetts to work together and to promote working lands and recreational opportunities potentially supported by funding that is available as a result of the passage of IRA. 

Get Involved 

Our advocacy will not stop here and we need your help. You can advocate for nature and climate solutions by becoming a Climate Champion. 

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