This year our conservation leaders, bird advocates, college students, ambassadors, volunteers, and scientists accomplished amazing things. Through early-December, more than 170,000 of us contacted decision-makers more than 1,085,000 times on behalf of birds. All of the accomplishments listed below come from the hard work and dedication of our members, chapters, volunteers, and staff. We're very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past 12 months.

Keep reading to see the most important ways that our flock worked together this year.

Supporting Bipartisan Climate Legislation in North Carolina

In October, North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 951 with large bipartisan majorities. The bill, which was signed into law a week later by Governor Roy Cooper, requires that the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission come up with a plan by the end of next year that uses the most affordable options to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector by 70 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by the year 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Thousands of Audubon advocates across North Carolina met with lawmakers via Zoom, sent emails, made phone calls, took elected officials on bird outings, and delivered petition signatures, all to speak up for bold action on climate. 

Volunteers and staff with Audubon North Carolina smile for a group photo prior to meeting with state representatives during the Audubon North Carolina Virtual Advocacy Day Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

Supporting Bipartisan Federal Legislation in the Senate

In June, the United States Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill creates a new program to address barriers to entry for landowners trying to access voluntary carbon markets, and encourages practices guided by science. These markets have the potential to further support farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in adopting sustainable management practices like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation. In addition to improving the health of working lands, these practices serve as natural solutions for reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil.

Demonstrating How Helping Birds Can Also Help Fight Climate Change

This summer, Audubon scientists reported in the new Natural Climate Solutions report that you can protect birds and fight global warming at the same time. The researchers studied ecosystems across the country that are critical to both carbon storage and to birds, both now and under future climate change, and found that these regions often overlapped. Combined, the priority areas studied already store over 100 billion tons of carbon, and, if climate-smart strategies are implemented, have the potential to sequester up to twice as much carbon annually as they do currently.

The report says that by conserving, managing, and restoring these priority areas, the U.S. could realize up to 23 percent of its Paris Agreement commitment to reduce emissions, while also helped imperiled birds across the hemisphere.

Pairing Solar Energy and 3,000 Native Plants in Colorado

This summer Audubon Rockies and Jack’s Solar Garden celebrated the first full growing season of the pollinator native plants at this solar energy site. Located in Longmont, Colorado, Jack’s Solar Garden features more than 3,200 solar panels that create a 1.2 megawatt community solar garden. It’s also the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system currently researching crop and vegetation growth in the United States. Audubon Rockies partnered with Jack’s Solar Garden and United Ecology to plant a living fence of more than 3,000 native plants around the periphery of the solar array.

Contractors plant the Habitat Hero garden at Jack's Solar Garden in May 2020.

Restoring Wetlands Along the Connecticut Coast

After years of planning and fundraising, Audubon Connecticut and others broke ground for a major restoration project at Great Meadows Marsh, a globally significant Important Bird Area, and part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. The project will restore up to 33 acres of salt marsh and other important coastal habitat. Great Meadows Marsh contains the largest block of un-ditched salt marsh remaining in Connecticut.

Audubon Connecticut, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are partners in this restoration. In addition to managing the construction, over the next few months Audubon will offer opportunities for the community to get involved, primarily through planting up to 170,000 native grasses and shrubs in spring.

Saltmarsh Sparrow.

 

Going 100 Percent Solar

Audubon Arkansas and the Little Rock Audubon Center is the first non-profit in the state of Arkansas to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The Little Rock Audubon Center is now home to a 35-kilowatt solar power plant, which was constructed by Scenic Hill Solar and designed to meet the center’s total electricity demand. The center also will feature a Solar Learning Lab to provide community education opportunities on solar power technology.

Making Wind Power Safer For Birds

When the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) issued its Record of Decision approving the Vineyard Wind I project off the coast of Massachusetts, that approval came with serious measures reduce impact to migratory birds, including siting the project to avoid the most important offshore habitats for birds. Audubon and partners worked extensively with BOEM to create a framework for understanding how offshore wind farms affect seafaring birds.

In turn, BOEM is requiring Vineyard Wind to develop a monitoring program that includes pre- and post-construction avian surveys, installation of radio telemetry receivers within the project area, the deployment of radio transmitter backpacks to species of concern that may interact with the project, and the use of additional monitoring technologies as they become available.

 

A family of Piping Plovers huddles at Sandy Point State Reservations in Massachusetts.

Stopping Oil and Gas Leases in the Arctic Refuge

On June 1, 2021, the Biden Administration announced it is suspending oil and gas leases and all associated activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until it can complete “a comprehensive environmental analysis” of the leasing program. Protecting the Arctic Refuge has been a central part of Audubon Alaska’s work over the last decade.

Halting Oil and Gas Development on Alaska’s North Slope

On August 18, 2021, a federal court judge reversed the Trump administration’s environmental approval for ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow Master Development Plan on Alaska’s North Slope. In her decision, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason said the Trump administration’s approval of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act was flawed because it failed to thoroughly analyze potential greenhouse gas pollution and it didn’t sufficiently consider legal protections for the Teshekpuk Lake wetlands complex, which are used as a subsistance resource by local communities.

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