Protecting birds through conservation advocacy
December 18, 2019 – Connecticut Audubon members act quickly and decisively when called on to speak out on a conservation issue. Their support and their willingness to be heard empowers and inspires us.
Here’s a summary of some of the issues we worked on together in 2019:
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The U.S. Congress permanently authorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 2019. The implications for conservation can’t be overstated. The bill secured $435 million for land conservation nationally this year.
Also included in the bill is the designation of the lower Farmington River as a Wild and Scenic River, joining the upper Farmington and Eightmile River (which empties into the Connecticut River in Lyme) in this designation.
Money from the LWCF will help permanently protect more than 400 acres in eastern Connecticut, including additions to Mono Pond State Park in Columbia and Devil’s Hopyard State Park in Lyme.
There is also funding for the Highlands Stewardship act, some of which will benefit Connecticut, and $1.39 million for a Forest Legacy Program to protect 500-plus acres of private forestland in northeast Connecticut through conservation easement.
Connecticut Audubon has supported the effort to reauthorize the fund. We worked with a coalition to make sure our voice and the voices of other independent state Audubon Societies were heard in Washington, and served as a liaison between National Audubon and the other Audubons on policy issues.
Connecticut’s Senate and House delegation all voted in favor. Connecticut Audubon sends its thanks to U.S. Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, and to Representatives Hayes, Himes, DeLauro, Courtney, and Larson.
One downside is that the although the fund was permanently authorized, funding is still decided on a year-by-year basis. We continue to press for passage of permanent funding for the LWCF, which would set a minimum level of appropriations each year for this important open space protection fund.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
The effort continues to persuade Congress to approve the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. It would significantly increase funding for wildlife conservation in the nation and in Connecticut. The bill passed out of committee in December 2019 and is headed to the House floor for a vote. If passed it is widely believed it will be the most important wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act.
For seabirds an abundance of fish to eat is essential.
We championed new harvest limits on Atlantic and river herring enacted by the New England Fisheries Management Council that include a 12-mile no fishing buffer off New England States, including all of Long Island Sound.
We helped oppose an increased harvest limit on menhaden along the Atlantic Coast and helped secure a compromise, the effectiveness of which we will monitor.
We are an appointed member of Senator Chris Murphy’s Land Conservation Council and are consulting on various pieces of national legislation including the Farm Bill and Land and Water Conservation Fund.
We supported federal changes that would help curtail the over harvest of horseshoe crabs, the eggs of which are essential to the survival of the endangered Red Knot.
We submitted testimony (in partnership with Audubon Connecticut) in favor of a bill that would offer important tax credits to private landowners who donate conservation easements on their property to protect recreational trail use forever.
We have been very active in support of the designation of a proposed National Estuarine Research Reserve in Connecticut.
We submitted testimony in opposition to the weakening the Waters of the United States Rule and in opposition to weakening the federal Endangered Species Act.
We supported the new plastic bag ban. Organizers of beach clean-up days in Connecticut this year reported 80 percent fewer plastic bags among the mounds of trash they collected.
We supported a modest fee on fresh-water boats to help the state stem the spread of invasive aquatic species (H. 6637, An Act Requiring an Invasive Species Stamp for the Operation of a Motorboat on the Waters of the State).
We submitted comments on Governor Lamont’s Executive Order on Climate Change. Our comments can be found here.