Audubon’s conservation vision—that we protect birds throughout their full lifecycle—requires we address the biggest threats to birds and the places they need now and into the future. Those threats include shrinking shorebird habitat squeezed between increasing sea-level rise and coastal development, loss of water and wetlands due to inadequate quantity or quality, disappearing grasslands and sage steppe due to agricultural conversion, and energy development. Climate change underlies and intensifies each of these threats and adds others making it the biggest single threat to birds and people.
Audubon has the unique breadth of membership and depth of expertise to protect birds through policy and advocacy from the local to the federal level. Through our growing ability to mobilize bird lovers, Audubon is building a powerful and permanent grassroots network capable not only of securing policy outcomes, but of fundamentally changing the politics around climate and conservation. We are building durable public will in some of the most strategic places in the nation, in some cases in places no other conservation organization can reach.
Audubon’s policy agenda will address those threats at scale and with a focus on pragmatic and creative solutions that can rebuild bipartisan support for conservation. Through our work, we will advance landscape-scale conservation, defend bedrock environmental laws, and secure state and federal funding for our conservation priorities.
Audubon’s goal is to achieve a portfolio of policy solutions to help birds and the places they need by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. To get there, we will build bipartisan support for solutions that include carbon pricing mechanisms, green infrastructure, energy efficiency, and sequestration in natural systems, as well as investment in critical technology innovations like carbon capture and storage, energy storage, and renewables. Our goals for 2019 include advancing federal legislative efforts, ensuring robust funding for clean technologies, and securing state-level wins that can catalyze regional change and pave the way for federal progress.
Coastal and Marine Conservation
Audubon is committed to protecting the coastal habitats and forage fisheries that are the foundation for healthy and resilient shorebird, seabird, and human coastal communities. In 2019-2020 we will work to expand wetlands and other coastal habitats by adding nearly 300,000 acres to the Coastal Barrier Resources System and by recommending an investment of more than $1.7 billion dollars from Deepwater Horizon penalties to fund a suite of 26 Gulf projects and four open ocean projects that are vital to the region’s recovery. In 2019, Audubon will defend the provisions in the Magnuson-Stevens Act—a critical tool to rebuilding 44 populations of overfished species—that require science-based management for federal fisheries and expand authority to manage forage fish based on the needs of seabirds.
Audubon is focused on a goal of driving $1 billion in resources to conserve priority habitats for birds in places like the Great Lakes, Colorado River Basin, Everglades, Long Island Sound, and Delaware River Watershed. We will also look for opportunities that encourage communities to build natural systems—like wetlands, dunes, and oyster reefs—that can provide flood and storm protection but also important habitat for birds and other wildlife.
The Farm Bill—America’s single largest source of conservation funding for private lands—has delivered many benefits to birds, farmers, and rural communities. In 2019, Audubon will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure bird-friendly policy changes in the 2018 Farm Bill materialize in real on-the-ground benefits for birds.
Bedrock Environmental Laws
While we defend critical protections under bedrock statutes like the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, Audubon will be focused on laying the groundwork to restore federal protections for birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Protecting critical public lands for birds, including the inter-mountain sagebrush steppe and Arctic habitats such as the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and key areas in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, from energy and other development will remain a top priority.
These policy initiatives do not capture the entirety of Audubon’s policy work at either the national or the state level. We will continue to comment and participate in a broader set of issues that include other state or federal bedrock environmental laws; support for vital conservation programs; coastal, working lands, and wetland protections; bird-safe buildings; and more to achieve the outcomes of our strategic plan. We also know that 2019 is likely to bring unexpected developments that may require us to re-evaluate our priorities and adapt.