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Maine Audubon in Augusta: Summing Up an Amazing Session

The First Session of the 131st Maine Legislature was one of the busiest and most successful we’ve ever had. Super-powered by the addition of our new Policy Advocate, Ches Gundrum, Maine Audubon was able to work on—and help pass—more wildlife-benefitting legislation than any session in recent memory!

It was a whirlwind, with many successes to celebrate but also some issues to continue working on in future sessions. We look forward, as always, to your continued support. We can’t do it without you.

Maine Audubon Advocacy: By The Numbers

Maine Audubon testified on 56 individual bills.

More than 3,600 messages were sent to legislators by Maine Audubon members and supporters.

We had 1,084 signatures on our Loon Lead Tackle petition, our largest petition ever.

How We Did: Maine Audubon Priority Legislation

Maine Audubon chooses a number of priority bills at the beginning of each session to help us focus our work. We are proud that we were able to help many of these priority bills pass this session. See below for details.

We were thrilled that LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources, earned the support of the Maine Legislature on their final day of session and was signed by Governor Mills soon after. This bill is the culmination of more than a year’s work to help ensure that Maine’s people, wildlife, and climate benefit from renewable energy produced in the Gulf of Maine, and that potential impacts to wildlife and marine habitats are avoided or mitigated to the greatest extent possible. PASSED!

Maine Audubon continues to work to protect our Common Loons with the passage of LD 958, which will phase out the sale and use of painted lead fishing tackle in the state. Loons can accidentally ingest discarded lead tackle from lakebeds, causing injury or death. PASSED!

LD 1246 expands the circumstances in which state agencies consult on strategies to avoid and minimize impacts to endangered and threatened species habitat from new development. The change in law will be particularly important for species that utilize upland habitats, including the New England Cottontail and the Blanding’s Turtle. PASSED!

We supported a bill from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, LD 57, to increase protections for eight vulnerable species by listing them under the Maine Endangered Species Act: Ashton’s Cuckoo Bumble Bee; Bank Swallow; Bicknell’s Thrush; Blackpoll Warbler; Cliff Swallow; Margined Tiger Beetle; Saltmarsh Sparrow; and Tricolored Bat. PASSED!

LD 1881 will establish a compensation fee program for new renewable energy development, including terrestrial solar and wind and high impact electric transmission lines, that impacts high-value agricultural lands and natural resources. This legislation is critical for balancing the development necessary for a clean energy transition with natural resource conservation. PASSED!

Maine Audubon has worked for years to encourage local biodiversity restoration as part of our “Bringing Nature Home” program. Now, more Mainers can feel secure when planting native plants in their yards. LD 649 supports the rights of homeowners to embrace wildlife-friendly native plantings. PASSED!

Nearly 1 billion birds die in the U.S. each year after colliding with glass windows and now Maine is one of just a few states to take action. LD 670 directs the state to develop guidelines for the use of bird-safe architecture in public buildings. Passage of the bill positions Maine as one of just three states in the nation with statewide legislation addressing bird/glass collisions. Maine Audubon, as a founding member of BirdSafe Maine, looks forward to working with the state and local partners to develop these guidelines. PASSED!

As a member of the Wabanaki Alliance coalition, Maine Audubon was once again disappointed to see that legislative action on LD 2007, a bill to recognize the inherent self-determination of the Wabanaki Nations was postponed. We will not stop fighting to have the rights of tribes in Maine recognized, and will continue to work on this legislation in future sessions. CARRIED OVER.

But that’s not all! Maine Audubon had a hand in many more bills this session, including successfully supporting legislation to establish the Pink-edged Sulphur as Maine’s official state butterfly and opposing harmful bills that would have walked back progress on plastic pollution. For a full rundown of our legislative activity this session, watch for the upcoming issue of Habitat Magazine, mailed free to members (here’s how to join!).

Maine Audubon Advocacy in the News

Our advocacy work was reported in dozens of news stories, in print, on the radio, and on TV, and in outlets reporting across the state

“Incremental habitat loss, one poorly sited driveway or septic system at a time, can have a big impact on vulnerable species, species that are really on the brink, where every population and often every individual really counts.”
– Maine Audubon Advocacy Director Eliza Donoghue, in “Environmental groups highlight bill to protect habitat for endangered Maine species,” Maine Public, January 27, 2023

“We’re four generations of Maine fishermen, but there are many more to come. Those future anglers deserve the same enjoyable experience on a Maine lake that we do – whether or not the fish are biting.”
– Jon Lund, Will Lund, Maine Audubon’s Nick Lund, and Elliott Lund, in “Maine Voices: What Would Fishing in Maine be Without the Wildlife?” Portland Press Herald, April 23, 2023

“And it’s been a really cool process, figuring out how laws get made . . . , it started with just a letter that got sent out and turned into this.”
– Laura Seaver, Loranger Memorial School teacher, “Students Who Proposed State Butterfly Visit Preserve,” NewsCenter Maine, June 8, 2023

Looking Ahead to the Second Session

This work is certainly not easy. There are many early mornings and long nights filled with challenging conversations and compromises, but our team is proud, excited, and grateful to do it. Whether we’re preparing to rise and deliver testimony in front of legislative committees, lobbying in the chaotic State House halls, or strategizing with our partners in Maine’s conservation community, our team supports and challenges one another to think and act boldly every step of the way.

With you by our side, we’re thrilled to have achieved so much on behalf of Maine wildlife and habitat this session, and are eager to keep going. We once more thank our members and supporters for all their help this session and beyond.