Green is for Nature

For over four decades, the rainbow Pride flag has been a symbol of hope and support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Mass Audubon is flying a newer version of the flag, the Progress Pride flag, to celebrate Pride Month at our wildlife sanctuaries. Learn more about the flag, what it means to Mass Audubon, and more ways to celebrate Pride outdoors.

Progress Pride Flag at Broadmoor

Get to Know the Flag

The original rainbow flag dates back to 1978, when it was first used in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade. It originally had eight colors (including pink and turquoise) but has since been trimmed down to six colors. Each stripe represents an important value: red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, blue is harmony, violet is spirit, and green is for nature. 

While the Progress Pride flag, developed by designer Daniel Quasar in 2018, still contains the original colors of the rainbow flag on one half, it also features five new colors that make up a chevron on the other half. The colors in these additional stripes represent gender non-conforming and transgender people (light blue, light pink, and white), People of Color (brown and black), and those living with AIDS (black). The triangle shape suggests forward progress, reflecting how far we have come and where we hope to get to in the future. 

Pride at Mass Audubon 

Nature is truly a place that welcomes everyone with open arms. No matter who you are or how you identify, the natural world offers an opportunity to find inner peace and love. The green stripe on the rainbow flag reminds us to do just that: seek out places that help us grow and prosper.  

Mass Audubon is dedicated to creating inclusive, equitable access to nature for people of all backgrounds and identities and making our wildlife sanctuaries a place of safety and belonging. Flying the Progress Pride flag demonstrates that commitment and acknowledges that Mass Audubon is made up of people with a broad range of identities—those who work at our organization and those who visit and support our efforts every single day. 

Throughout the month of June, Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries across the state are hosting Pride events for members of the LGBTQI2SA+ community. Relax at the Boston Nature Center in Mattapan for an LGBTQIA2S+ Afternoon, explore somewhere new at the Green is for Nature Pride Walk at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, or join a Pride Month Game Night at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. See all upcoming Pride events across our network of sanctuaries here

Celebrating Across Massachusetts 

© Jim Leahy

There are also plenty of other organizations hosting nature-based events for the LGBTQIA2S+ community during Pride Month.

Backpack through the wilderness with leaders from the Venture Out Project, or hike across New England with GayOutdoors. The Chiltern Mountain Club organizes outdoor activities for LGBTQI+ people, including canoeing, biking, camping, and more. 

Share Your Pride 

We hope you will spend time this Pride Month in nature. Tag us in all of your outdoor activities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! We can’t wait to see how you explore nature and the color green. 

Protecting Salt Marshes at Allens Pond 

Visitors to Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in South Dartmouth and Westport may be curious if they spot groups of individuals digging on the sanctuary’s salt marsh. 

Under the watchful eye of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Resilience Program Director Dr. Danielle Perry and the South East team, they are carving out runnels, shallow channels used to improve waterlogged conditions on the salt marsh by lowering the water table and draining impounded water.  

Climate-related increases in sea level have shown that incoming tides are higher and lasting longer, causing upland areas of the marsh to be flooded more frequently, resulting in the formation of saltwater pools (water impoundments) that remain even when tides recede.  

These water impoundments are having a disastrous effect on the high-marsh ecology, including vegetative die-off and habitat loss. As they literally drown in place, we lose essential salt marsh services such as protection against floods and storms—and as marshes degrade they can release stored carbon and greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. 

Along with our partners at Save the Bay, Bristol County Mosquito Control, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are utilizing narrow, strategically placed runnels to drain excess sea water into preexisting ditches or creeks that flow into open water. This strategy alleviates stresses on these habitats, which is crucial to the long-term viability of the plants and animals that rely upon them.  

A runnel

For example, Saltmarsh Sparrows are now extremely vulnerable as their nests within the high marsh are more frequently inundated by incoming tides, as sea level rises.  

Creating runnels can be an effective nature-based climate solution, rather than constructing extensive and costly sea walls that further erode the salt marsh. 

Perry and Mass Audubon Director of Conservation Science Jeff Collins hope to use this salt marsh restoration technique and others at additional coastal sanctuaries, including Great Neck in Wareham, Barnstable Great Marsh and Wellfleet Bay on Cape Cod Bay, and Rough Meadows in Rowley on the North Shore.