Mass Audubon Applauds Governor Baker’s Commitment to Funding Nature and Climate Resilience
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA — Mass Audubon applauds Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to use nearly $3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to build back the Massachusetts economy and hardest-hit communities and residents, through investments in housing access, infrastructure, and the environment. The statewide conservation organization looks forward to seeing Gov. Baker’s team work closely with the Legislature to achieve this effort.
Mass Audubon President David J. O’Neill noted that the plan calls for $100 million to go to open space and resilient lands, as well as parks and recreation opportunities. “It is exactly this level of ambitious commitment by the Governor and his administration that is needed to spur further investment and inspire public, private, and nonprofit partners to go big and bold on behalf of nature, in a year where having access to nature has never been more important to Massachusetts’ citizens,” O’Neill said.
The funding will improve access to the outdoors. It can also support climate-resilient landscapes and the wildlife that rely on them, all of which align with Mass Audubon’s mission to connect people and nature. Mass Audubon offers real-world evidence of how strong partnerships leverage investments in nature for maximum impact:
- In partnership with generous private owners, state and federal environmental agencies, and the Town of Plymouth, a longtime cranberry operation in Plymouth has been restored to its natural state as a blend of wetlands and woodlands, nourished by a freshwater stream. This property, now Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary, is welcoming thousands of visitors a year.
- In the northern Berkshires, Mass Audubon’s Climate-smart Forestry Project, which includes local communities, New England Forestry Foundation, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), is integrating climate-smart and wildlife-friendly considerations and natural climate solutions into forest management planning.
- The 1,400-acre Bear Hole Landscape project, a partnership with West Springfield, Holyoke, and DCR, connects thousands of acres of habitat along a Connecticut River Valley green corridor to support wildlife adaptation to climate change. This land protection success will also provide more access to nature for the residents of the nearby Gateway Cities of Springfield and Westfield.
- The Great Marsh, extending from Gloucester to the New Hampshire Seacoast, is home to Mass Audubon’s Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Rowley. The 20,000-acre salt marsh has benefitted from conservation efforts by a collaboration including Mass Audubon, Essex County Greenbelt Association,The Trustees, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and educational partners ranging from North Shore schools to the University of New Hampshire.
- Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, part of a natural corridor important for wildlife connectivity and climate resilience, has recently benefited from partnerships ranging from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to local landowners, municipal leaders, and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. An historic, 18th-Century barn has just been restored into a fully accessible program space that welcomes visitors to miles of connected trail across the 1,400-acre wildlife sanctuary and beyond.
- At Mass Audubon’s Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham, partners including U.S. EPA’s Southern New England Program, Save the Bay, the Town of Wareham, and Wareham Land Trust have worked with Mass Audubon to restore pollinator habitat, enhance saltmarsh, and allow for future migration of saltmarsh inland in response to climate change.
- On upper Cape Cod, Mass Audubon has collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on salt marsh restoration at our Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary to ensure resilience in the face of sea level rise and other effects of climate change.
We will continue to work with the Baker Administration and the Legislature on this important opportunity.
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.