Published on December 9, 2016

Action Alert: Funding Cut—Trailside Needs Your Help

Red fox © Norman Smith, Mass Audubon
Red fox © Norman Smith

Contact the Governor

Contact your legislator

On Thursday, December 7, Governor Charlie Baker gutted the operating funding for Blue Hills Trailside Museum as part of emergency 9C budget cuts.

Owned by the state of Massachusetts and managed by Mass Audubon, Trailside Museum relies on state funding. Its operating budget for 2017 Fiscal Year is $850,000. Of that, Trailside relies on the Commonwealth to provide $500,000—the rest is raised by Mass Audubon.

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.

The museum is the Visitor Center for the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation serving more than 150,000 visitors a year. It features indoor and outdoor wildlife and natural history exhibits, provides environmental education to more than 200 schools; and offers universally accessible nature trails, including sensory exhibits and self-guided audio tours so that everyone may enjoy the natural history exhibits.

Mass Audubon will be lobbying Beacon Hill legislators to restore this funding but no fix is likely before the end of the year. In the meantime, it is always helpful for our supporters to contact the Governor and your state legislator with feedback. Please also consider sharing a personal story with him of a special memory from a visit to Trailside, or what Trailside means to you and your family.

Why Not Start a Petition or Fundraising Campaign?

You may be wondering why we don’t utilize online petitions or crowd-funding 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.

Crowd-funding 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 addition to being a global leader in documenting the winter ecology on this important arctic species.

In order for Trailside to operate at its fullest potential, we need both sources of funding on an annual basis. Learn more in our Trailside Funding FAQs.

See Why Trailside is Unique

If you have never been to the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, we invite you to come visit our live native animal exhibits.

Take a walk on our universally accessible trail, which includes a rope guide and educational materials in large-print, Braille, audio, and tactile formats.

And reach out to one of the many dedicated staff members or volunteers, who can tell you first-hand just how important this resource is for the nature of Massachusetts.

In addition to contacting the governor and legislators to keep state funding in place, you can support Mass Audubon’s work keeping Trailside the vibrant, fun, and engaging place to visit by making a donation today.