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From Native Plants to Clean Energy, We Lead Where Birds Need Us

Despite headwinds, Audubon landed a number of wins in 2018. There’s plenty to build on next year.

It's been an eventful year for conservation, and sometimes it felt like birds were the targets every time we looked skyward: From rollbacks at the EPA and attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act to a sneak attack on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the shrinking of public lands for drilling and mining, Audubon played a lot of defense for the sake of birds.  
That made 2018 challenging, but there were some real steps forward on the big policies that affect birds and nature. For one, we worked closely with Republicans in the House of Representatives as they introduced a bill that would institute a federal carbon tax to address a changing climate. A number of states joined us to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. And Audubon has been instrumental in making strides in conservation, in part because of the support and inspiration that you so generously provide every day. 
For example, Audubon was at the table as seven states worked to gather support for the Drought Contingency Plan. That vital plan ensures a sustainable water future for the entire Southwest. Our California team helped secure nearly $4 billion in funding for climate work and water sustainability, including $200 million to keep water in the Salton Sea, a migratory stopover for 400 bird species. Keeping the Salton Sea alive also prevents chemical dust clouds from coating the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, causing a health crisis for millions of people. 
In South Carolina, Audubon members helped convince state legislators to reauthorize the Conservation Bank, a pot of money used to protect vital parts of rich natural landscapes there. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, we worked with the Arkansas Public Service Commission to help make sure that opting for sustainable solutions, like solar power, would be affordable. 
After months of Audubon's advocacy, fishery managers along the Atlantic coast voted to implement strong catch limits and close areas to harmful fishing practices. These decisions will help bring back Atlantic herring, benefitting seabirds like the Atlantic Puffin, marine mammals, and larger fish.
When it comes to your own backyards, more than 230,000 people used Audubon's Plants For Birds online plant finder with the support of the Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants. More than 30 Audubon centers and chapters received grants to engage their communities around the plants that nurture birds and put tens of thousands of new native plants in the ground. 
The new Democratic majority in the House will likely mean quicker introduction and action in committees on conservation issues—an area in which, our experience tells us, bipartisan policy solutions look attractive to both parties. Our commitment to birds-first action guides us no matter which political party holds the upper hand. Birds don‘t have a party and neither does Audubon. 
Your passion for birds and protecting them are what makes Audubon unique. Next year will be challenging, but this year showed that, more than ever, you are what hope looks like to a bird.
This story originally ran in the Winter 2018 issue as “We Lead Where Birds Lead (or Need Us).” To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.
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