Next Steps for Securing Trailside Funding

Trailside Museum Director Norman Smith © Kent Harnois

Trailside Museum Director Norman Smith © Kent Harnois

Last month, funding for the state-owned Blue Hills Trailside Museum was in jeopardy. Governor Baker vetoed the funds set aside for running the state-owned interpretive center for the Blue Hills Reservation.

The museum, which features indoor and outdoor wildlife and natural history exhibits, welcomes more than 200,000 visitors a year to the Blue Hills Reservation; provides environmental education to more than 200 schools; and offers universally accessible nature trails, including sensory and audio trails for the visually impaired.

So when we asked for you to contact your legislators demanding that they override the governor’s veto, you came through in a big way. Many legislators reached out to us, commenting on how many calls and emails they received in support of Trailside.

To everyone who called, emailed, and shared this message, we want to offer our sincere thanks.

But Wait, There’s More

Unfortunately, Trailside is not out of the woods yet. In order to keep the state budget balanced, Governor Baker can utilize what is known as 9C cuts to reduce the funding of any executive branch agency or operation (including the Blue Hills Trailside Museum) at any point during the fiscal year as a corrective measure.

We have already sent a letter to Governor Baker urging him to prioritize funding for Blue Hills Trailside Museum. But our words can only go so far. We need you to call or email the governor asking him to continue funding Trailside.

Why Not Start a Petition or Fundraising Campaign?

You may be wondering why we don’t utilize online petitions of crowd-funding platforms. Online petitions can be an effective means of gathering support for some issues. That being said, Mass Audubon’s experience is that emailing and calling legislators and the Governor’s office is a more personal, timely, and direct method of requesting action. We have specifically heard that even just a few phone calls can go a long way.

Snowy Owl © Richard Johnson

Crowd-funding is a little trickier since Trailside’s budget is complex. The government has been providing operating funds for Trailside since it first opened in 1959. When Mass Audubon took over managing the museum for the state in 1974, we began raising additional money above and beyond the state funding to run public and school programs for adults, children, and families and to care for and research the animals that could not survive in the wild.

For example, the Snowy Owl Project based at Blue Hills Trailside Museum has become a national example of how to humanely capture snowy owls at airports and relocate them to safer areas.

In order for Trailside to operate at its fullest potential, we need both sources of funding on an annual basis. Learn more in our Trailside Funding FAQs.

See Why Trailside is Unique

© Kent Harnois

Universally Accessible Trail © Kent Harnois

If you have never been to the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, we invite you to come visit our native live animal exhibits.

Take a walk on our universally accessible trail, which includes a rope guide and educational materials in large-print, Braille, audio, and tactile formats.

And reach out to one of the many dedicated staff members or volunteers, who can tell you first-hand just how important this resource is for the nature of Massachusetts.

In addition to contacting the governor to keep state funding in place, you can support Mass Audubon’s work keeping Trailside the vibrant, fun, and engaging place to visit by making a donation today.

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