Trailside Museum Funding FAQs

Why does Blue Hills Trailside need state funding?

The Blue Hills Trailside Museum represents a tremendously successful partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Mass Audubon. It is a commonwealth-owned facility opened in 1959 and managed by Mass Audubon since 1974. Without a sustainable source of funding, the museum would be forced to cut back on staff and could not fully leverage the resources of Mass Audubon or plan for its future.

What is Mass Audubon’s role at Trailside? 

Mass Audubon is the oldest and largest conservation organization in New England. Through Trailside Museum, Mass Audubon welcomes over 100,000 visitors a year to the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation; provides environmental education to over 200 schools; and offers handicapped accessible nature trails, including sensory trails for the visually impaired.

How much state funding does Trailside need?

Trailside’s operating budget for 2017 Fiscal Year is $850,000. $500,000 is provided by the Commonwealth and the rest is raised by Mass Audubon.

What is the budget process?

The state operating budget originates with the Governor and is then sent to the legislature for consideration. The legislature then completes its own budget which is forwarded to the Governor for his approval or vetoes.  The legislature, in turn, can override the Governor’s vetoes. Visit the State House budget page for more information on the budget process.

What are 9C cuts?

The Governor is required to balance the budget, and may use ‘9C’ cuts to reduce the funding of any executive branch agency or operation at any point during the fiscal year as a corrective measure. Learn more

Why Not Start a Petition or Fundraising Campaign?

You may be wondering why we don’t utilize online petitions or crowdfunding platforms. Online petitions can be an effective means of gathering support for some issues. That being said, Mass Audubon’s experience is that emailing and calling legislators and the Governor’s office is a more personal, timely, and direct method of requesting action. We have specifically heard that even just a few phone calls can go a long way.

Crowdfunding is a little trickier since Trailside’s budget is complex. The government has been providing operating funds for Trailside since it first opened in 1959. When Mass Audubon took over managing the museum for the state in 1974, we began raising additional money above and beyond the state funding to provide programs for museum visitors and the surrounding communities, to care for exhibit animals that cannot survive in the wild, and to support conservation research.

For example, the Snowy Owl Project based at Blue Hills Trailside Museum has become a national example of how to humanely capture snowy owls at airports and relocate them to safer areas.

In order for Trailside to operate at its fullest potential, we need both sources of funding on an annual basis.