Spreading Your Advocacy Wings
Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Chapter Chatter Newsletter April 2021
Advocacy in Action
Advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels can have incredible impacts on conservation efforts of all sizes. Chapters across the region have been working collaboratively with a range of partners to raise their voices and ignite positive change in their communities. Read on to learn more about chapter efforts in the Delaware River Watershed, southern Maryland, southcentral Pennsylvania, and internally through our working groups.
Belted Kingfisher
Delaware River Watershed Chapters Take to the Hill
March was a busy month for advocates in the Delaware River Watershed. Passionate chapter members and volunteers joined Audubon Mid-Atlantic staff in a series of virtual “Meet & Greets” with PA legislators. Ralf Graves, Janet Krevenas, Kathryn Freilich, Michael Guttman, Barbara Beck, Diane Smith, Jon Levin and Barbara Malt, representing the Valley Forge, Bucks County, and Lehigh Valley chapters, each played a key role in introducing Audubon to legislators across their chapter territories. The conversations ranged from highlighting water protection efforts in the region to discussing how the Pennsylvania budget significantly underfunds the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources and Delaware River Basin Commission at a time when record numbers of Pennsylvanians are exploring our shared waters. 

On the federal side, AMA staff coordinated with chapters that participate in the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed to boost participation in Virtual Hill Week and lift up Audubon priorities. Representing the Valley Forge, Bucks County, Lehigh Valley, Delaware and Wyncote chapters were Shirley Dodson, Shari Donath, Stacy Carr-Poole, Jon Levin, Leigh Altadonna, Steve Cottrell and Ashley Kennedy. These amazing leaders and constituents stood up to share stories of birds they love with members of Congress, and highlighted needs for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, Delaware River Basin Commission, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and more.

Many thanks to these individuals for their meaningful contributions and unwavering commitment to birds! 

 
Belted Kingfisher. Photo: Janet DiMattia/APA
Osprey
The Power of Partnerships in Southern Maryland
When it comes to advocacy, the Southern Maryland Audubon Society (SMAS) is well-versed in the power of partnerships. Located outside Washington DC, the chapter’s territory includes one of Maryland’s fastest growing regions, Charles County. Over the years, SMAS has discovered that meaningful engagement often involves both the usual slate of conservation partners and unconventional allies with overlapping areas of interest and concern.

Long-time SMAS board member, Bob Lukinic has spent the better part of the last 30 years advocating for sustainable land use that honors smart development while protecting birds and the places they need. Whether in his current role as Conservation Chair or the myriad positions he has held on the SMAS board, cooperative action is a strategy he returns to time and time again.

In 2016, the chapter worked alongside the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County, Audubon MD-DC, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Sierra Club to create a Watershed Conservation District that limits sprawl development and protects the Mattawoman Creek Watershed and Port Tobacco River headwaters. In 2018, an unlikely partnership between the chapter, academia, and the Mount Vernon Society resulted in the denial of a permit for a poorly sited compressor station that put a valuable viewshed, as well as extensive bird and wildlife habitat at risk. And in 2019, SOMA, Audubon, conservation partners, and Georgetown University students advocated together to defeat an energy sector permit that would have resulted in fragmentation of one of the largest remaining forests in Southern Maryland and damage to high value streams in the Nanjemoy Creek watershed. According to Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, the project would “…harm the nearby high-quality stream…threaten our continued restoration progress in the Chesapeake Bay watershed” and be an “unacceptable trade-off” for environmental health. 

Rooted in a long history of advocacy and engagement, the chapter credits their effectiveness to an active board; creative and highly visible partnerships; and sustained outreach that helps them inspire members and program participants to stewardship and action.
Osprey. Photo: Barbara Zimmerman/APA
Short-eared Owl
Solar Advocacy in Adams County
Without a doubt, birds are telling us we need to act on climate change. Climate change is the #1 threat to birds and adopting renewable energy is critical to reducing pollution, lowering global temperatures, and preserving the places that birds need to survive.

Last month, the South Mountain Audubon Society (SMAS) in Adams County, Pennsylvania heeded that call and stepped up to act on a proposed solar project. The chapter worked alongside our regional Renewable Energy Working Group (REWG) to learn about the project, assess the potential impacts on the surrounding landscape, research at-risk species, and garner board support for engagement. Working collaboratively with the NAS Clean Energy Initiative team, Mid-Atlantic staff, and REWG leaders, the chapter submitted comments that supported the project, while emphasizing specific value-added components that support healthy bird habitat.

Hats off to the volunteers of SMAS and the REWG for their commitment to working together toward climate solutions. This combination of strong chapter leadership, technical resources, and targeted support from National and Mid-Atlantic Audubon staff is a great example of effective engagement on climate change. This model of collaboration has the potential to help chapters across the network have a strong and helpful presence, buoyed by partnerships, as solar and other renewable energy developments expand across the Mid-Atlantic region.

 
Short-eared Owl. Photo: Robert Coonrad/APA
Audubon Mid-Atlantic Birdathon - May 15th
Audubon Mid-Atlantic Birdathon 2021
Spring is finally here and so are the birds! In celebration of our new region taking flight, we’re excited to announce the 2021 Audubon Mid-Atlantic Birdathon, slated for May 15th.

Birdathons have always been excellent opportunities to get outside and celebrate those marvelous creatures that we spend our time advocating for and protecting. But especially in a year where there has been so much isolation, we are really looking forward to coming together virtually to celebrate Birdathon.

So, whether you’re hosting your own chapter Birdathon or inviting your members to join the regional effort, here’s to a full day of great birding, engaging new birders, and and growing our Audubon network! 

 
Sandhill Crane
World Migratory Bird Day
The 2021 World Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 8th. This year’s theme is Sing, Fly, Soar — Like a Bird! Check out the website for event information and free resources to use and share.
Sandhill Crane. Photo: Chris Bridges/APA
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