Annual Meeting 2021
Thank you for joining us for our 2021 Annual Meeting. We were pleased to share with you some of the highlights of the work you have helped make possible. Even though the Action Agenda is less than a year old, we are already seeing it come alive through a series of new initiatives.
Mass Audubon is committed to increasing the pace of our own land conservation, but we also want to take a somewhat novel approach to land conservation: that protecting land in a shared collaborative way for the greater good of our Commonwealth is more important than a “race” where each vested nonprofit is amassing land individually. Therefore, we are creating the Resilient Lands Conservation Partnership Center, a virtual center designed to accelerate the pace of land conservation across the Commonwealth.
The Resilient Lands Conservation Partnership Center will provide a suite of new tools to support our land conservation partners in government, municipalities, and land trusts. The Center includes conservation specialists devoted to regions of the state that are most in need off technical assistance to support land conservation work, and the Center offers new tools to help finance land conservation.
Mass Audubon is committed to creating a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just organization and to providing greater access to nature for everyone. Part of this work requires us to address the historic inequities within the environmental and conservation fields.
The Environmental Fellowship Program is designed to increase early career opportunities for young professionals with identities that have been historically underrepresented in the environmental fields. Fellows will be offered a one-year paid position within our organization that aligns with their professional area of interest, such as conservation science, climate change, environmental management, environmental education, science communications, or policy and advocacy.
In addition to professional experience, the program will provide opportunities for networking, mentoring, and skill development within a supportive cohort model. Simultaneously, the organization will benefit from the innovative and diverse perspectives provided by these young professionals.
We will begin recruiting applicants in January, with the first cohort beginning in June.
Nature and nature-based climate solutions have historically been undervalued and under-resourced by local, state, and federal funding. The pandemic and extreme weather events have shined a light on not only the intrinsic value of nature, but its incomparable contributions to our economy and human health as well.
We need policymakers, the private sector, and philanthropists to direct $1 billion in funds towards programs that protect and/or restore lands in critical places; build resilience; increase access to parks, open spaces and trails; and strengthen our water infrastructure. Federal funds for COVID relief (via the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA) are our best chance to drive new funds to nature—it is literally a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
You can help by becoming a Mass Audubon Climate Champion. By signing up you’ll be the first to know about opportunities to advocate for nature-based climate solutions such as habitat restoration and protection. Together we can win the investments and change needed to protect against the effects of the climate crisis.
Bear Hole, a 1,400-acre ecologically diverse greenspace located in West Springfield and Holyoke, is now permanently protected. This remarkable landscape is beneficial to both people and wildlife. Bear Hole now guarantees broad access to nature providing physical and mental health benefits to hundreds of thousands of people—particularly those living in the nearby Gateway Cities of Springfield, Westfield, and Holyoke.
A rich array of wildlife species can also find safe passageway through a mosaic of connected, conserved lands; Bear Hole was the largest unprotected piece of a critical wildlife corridor extending from West Springfield to the Holyoke Range. And its now-protected forests will continue to provide carbon-trapping benefits, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
To make this vision a reality, Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) purchased a Conservation Restriction (CR) on the land. While the CR ensures that the property will never be developed, West Springfield will continue to own and manage the property.
The Bear Hole project represents the level of commitment needed to advance the five-year goals outlined in Mass Audubon’s newly-released Action Agenda. The bold plan seeks to conserve and protect resilient landscapes; advance inclusive and equitable access to nature; and mobilize people to fight climate change.
Mass Audubon’s Coastal Resilience Program will use climate adaptation and nature-based solutions techniques to focus on the protection, management, and restoration of four coastal priority habitats: salt marshes, coastal bird nesting islands, beaches, and coastal uplands.
Through climate adaptation initiatives, our goal is to help these habitats cope with, respond to, and prepare for current and future climate change impacts to preserve these environments and ecosystem services for both wildlife and people.
This will be an interdisciplinary effort to conserve new land, manage and restore our coastal properties, assist partners in coastal restoration efforts on non-Mass Audubon land, and create outreach initiatives to communicate our efforts and educate the public on the necessity of coastal resiliency projects.
As part of this program, Mass Audubon will establish Coastal Resilience Centers at Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries situated on or near the coastline, including Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard, and Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport.
These centers will serve as living laboratories and educate residents and visitors, community leaders, and policy makers on the threats to our coasts and what is needed to protect these vital natural systems for both people and wildlife. We plan for these centers to promote policies and regulatory reforms that expand the implementation of on-the-ground coastal restoration and management techniques as well as serve as convening places for partners to discuss the latest science and policy for coastal resilience.