Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, to take part in the annual gathering of the “Independent Audubons.” Around the country, many Audubon organizations — particularly in the northeast — predated the creation of the National Audubon Society. Many of those have remained independent, and meet each year to benchmark, build community, and work on common objectives.
This year, the host was the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), which serves Maryland and the DC metro area. Opportunistically, they organized a conservation lobby day on Capitol Hill. In many cases, we were there to thank Senators, Representatives, and their staff for their support and to ask for assistance on federal issues involving wildlife and habitat conversation.
In particular, we focused on federal wildlife policy, identifying key priorities like passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, providing full funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, strengthening funding for agencies like EPA and the Park Service, and full enforcement of bedrock laws like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.
We had excellent visits, and I really enjoyed connecting with leaders from independent Audubon organizations in other states. Here’s a photo of me with ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander after we visited with Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland:
After the visit, ANS produced this wonderful video, which provides a good overview of the trip:
Being new to my role, this was an important opportunity to meet my peers. Also, while Maine Audubon has historically focused its advocacy horsepower on state-level issues, the Trump administration has increasingly forced our attention onto federal issues, so this was a great introduction to the federal sphere. Given their location and familiarity with federal advocacy, ANS was the perfect host for this moment in history.
Alongside education and conservation, advocacy has always been a very important part of Maine Audubon’s work. During my tenure as Executive Director, it is an area where I intend to inject increased energy. Stay tuned for more on this, and please sign up for our Action Alert emails.
In my conversations at both the state and federal level, I consistently hear one message from legislators: “It is great to hear from organizations like Maine Audubon, but strong engagement by individual citizens is even more powerful in influencing the position of legislators.” Your single voice, multiplied by many people just like you, makes a world of difference on behalf of our wildlife and habitat. Thank you for using it!