The 115th session of Congress kicked off last month along with the inauguration of the new President. While there are many changes coming to Washington, Audubon remains consistent in our approach to finding bipartisan opportunities to protect birds and the places they need.
Audubon is well-positioned as a leader in the conservation community. We believe our ability to work across the political aisle at the federal, state and local levels—and the willingness of our members to be engaged—will allow us to make progress on important conservation issues. In January, Audubon unveiled our conservation agenda during a telephone town hall with members. The agenda lays out key national priorities we anticipate focusing on such as defending the Sage Grouse Conservation Agreements, protecting threatened and endangered species, securing funding for western water agreements, and building support for comprehensive coastal conservation efforts, among other issues. At the same time, we see opportunities in 2017 to influence state and local actions that are critical to advancing our climate, water, coasts and working lands priorities.
Two conservation priorities—maintaining and enhancing conservation funding and protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge —are at the top of our list, even this early in the 2017 legislative session.
Conservation funding has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress because of our nation’s proud legacy of programs that benefit birds and other wildlife. Audubon is concerned that some in Congress and the new Administration may try to end or weaken these critical programs that support creation of new parks or allow for the restoration of treasured ecosystems like the Everglades, Great Lakes, Long Island Sound, and Chesapeake Bay. We are following the funding process closely in Washington as we expect the President to release a proposed budget later this month followed by action in Congress this spring and summer.
Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a high priority, too. The habitat of the Refuge supports nesting birds such as Tundra Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Snowy Owls, Golden Eagles, a multitude of songbirds, and more. The birds hatched in the Refuge migrate across each of the 50 states to their wintering grounds. Some in Congress want to use the federal budget process to open the heart of the Refuge to drilling, causing irreparable harm to birds. Action may come as early as this spring.
This is a critical time for both issues. Audubon will rely on your support to reach out to Members of Congress and let them know you want them to maintain conservation program funding and protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. You can send an email directly to your elected officials about these issues quickly and easily at our Action Center.