|Grasslands Conservation Program Update|
State of U.S. Grassland Birds: Still Declining
The new State of the Birds report from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative¹ (NABCI) reveals grassland birds are among the fastest-declining bird species in the United States, with a 34% loss since 1970. Published by 33 leading science and conservation organizations and agencies, the 2022 U.S. State of the Birds report is the first look at the nation’s birds since a landmark 2019 study showed the loss of 3 billion birds in the United States and Canada over the past 50 years.
The report identifies 70 Tipping Point species that have each lost 50% or more of their populations in the during this time, and are on a track to lose another half in the next 50 years if nothing changes. Translation: 70 birds could be next to face threatened or endangered species status. Among the grassland birds marked as Tipping Point species are the Bobolink, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Greater Sage-Grouse, Henslow’s Sparrow, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Mountain Plover and Sprague's Pipit. In addition to the Tipping Point species, the report includes 20 additional On Alert bird species that have lost half their populations in the past 50 years. Grassland bird species in this category include the Baird’s Sparrow and the Thick-billed Longspur. Read more…
Coastal Conservation Program Update
Thanks to a generous gift, Audubon Texas is rebuilding our observation tower at Green Island! Our tower, dock, and building on Green Island were damaged during Hurricane Hanna, which passed directly over the island in 2020. Last winter, we were able to install a new dock. Now with improved access to the island we can begin rebuilding the observation tower this winter. All of the birds and chicks have currently migrated south for warmer temperatures. Our Coastal Warden, Brian Beller, has begun clearing vegetation and improving access onto the island. The new observation tower will allow us to welcome researchers, better monitor birds, and create outreach and education opportunities on Green Island without disturbing the birds. The timing of the grant and the related projects couldn’t be better – Audubon Texas is gearing up to celebrate 100 years of coastal conservation, which all began with a lease at Green Island in 1923.
On September 22, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners met to consider the Port Authority’s Seawater Desalination permit. Audubon Texas had challenged the permit within the contested case process on the basis that it was not sufficiently protective of the receiving waters in the Corpus Christi Bay System. The Commission decided to accept the recommendations issued by the Administrative Law Judges, who suggested that salinity limits be placed on the permit to cap the level of salinity change that could be created from the effluent discharge from the 95 million gallons per day of proposed discharge at the plant. While Audubon Texas remains concerned about the location and issuance of the permit, we will work with stakeholders involved towards a protective solution for this critical estuarine system. The EPA has also signaled its interest in the issue, and has notified the TCEQ that such a permit issuance may result in a permit that will not be accepted under Clean Water Act (CWA) and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Stay tuned.
The 2023 Texas legislative session is only 90 days away! Key issues and areas of focus for the Audubon Texas team are power generation and transmission siting, on-and offshore, thoughtful energy infrastructure decommissioning, and wastewater discharges. We are excited to engage with the network on these and other issues—your voice and participation matter! Let us know what else you are working on! We look forward to a productive and thoughtful session focused on a resilient and prosperous Texas for all Texans.
Urban Conservation Update
Lights Out, Texas! Update
We’re in peak migration season now through October 29, and Audubon Texas and our partners are excited about the continued support and local action for the Lights Out Texas campaign. The current total metrics from the first week of August through the first week of have been impressive! Total followers reached across all platforms: 6,700,429, with 305 total social media posts. Well done! Fall migration continues across Texas through November 30. Download your brag badge, continue using the #LightsOutTexas on your social media, and look for our final Fall 2022 Lights Out, Texas! report later this year.
Bird City Texas Applications Due December 1st!
Want to see your community designated a Bird City? Entering its 4th year, Bird City Texas is a community-focused certification program created to help people protect birds and their habitats where we live, work, and recreate, through a partnership with Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. There are 8 communities currently certified in the program. These communities’ education and conservation actions preserve green space that is beneficial to birds and people alike. The Bird City Texas communities are able to leverage this designation to attract more of the 2.2 million bird watchers in Texas, a major driver in the $1.8 billion economic impact from Texan wildlife viewing. Learn more about the program and how you can apply. Application deadline is December 1, 2022.