This year our conservation leaders, bird advocates, college students, ambassadors, volunteers, and scientists accomplished amazing things. Through early-December, more than 170,000 of us contacted decision-makers more than 1,085,000 times on behalf of birds. All of the accomplishments listed below come from the hard work and dedication of our members, chapters, volunteers, and staff. We're very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past 12 months.

Keep reading to see the most important ways that our flock worked together this year.

Defending our coastlines against illegal sand mining.

Audubon won its lawsuit against the federal government

 to stop a Trump-era illegal rule that allowed sand mining on pristine, undeveloped coastlines. For decades, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act prevented removal or mining of sand from designated areas protected by the law; that sand nourishes beaches outside of the CBRA system and keeps coastal communities safe from storm surges and high tides. Audubon worked with nonprofit legal organization Democracy Forward on this lawsuit, and the fiscal conservatives at the R Street Institute wrote an amicus brief in favor of maintaining the Coastal Barrier Resources Act at its full strength.

Securing Water for Imperiled Saline Lakes

In September, Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT) and Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act to establish a scientific monitoring and assessment program to better manage conservation efforts for saline lake ecosystems and migratory birds in the West

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The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act would provide the U.S. Geological Survey—in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tribal, state, academic, and nonprofit organizations—resources to conduct scientific monitoring and assessments to establish effective management and conservation efforts to preserve essential Saline Lake habitats within the Great Basin network. 

Saline lakes within the Great Basin—which includes areas of Utah, California, Nevada, and Oregon—provide a critical network of habitats for millions of migrating shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl. Declining water levels due to demand, drought, and environmental changes have dried out these important lakes within the Great Basin, threatening habitats, public health, and recreation. 

Restoring the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Making It Stronger

In September the Biden-Harris administration not only restored the protections afforded to birds in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

 to levels last seen during the Obama administration, the administration took it a step further by also announcing a regulatory framework for industry so that they could be compliant with the law. Audubon has been advocating for strengthening the MBTA since at least 2015, so seeing the law both restored to its former strength and then some, is a testament to the advocacy work done by thousands of Audubon members over the years.  

Supporting Indigenous Stewardship in Canada’s Boreal Forest

This summer the Canadian government pledged $340 million CAD to Indigenous stewardship programs

 across Canada. This funding will support creation of new Indigenous Protected Areas and Indigenous Guardians programs that help protect Canada’s Boreal Forest. The boreal is home to the breeding territories of hundreds of bird species, and protecting that land from development and climate change is critical to protecting the birds that depend on it. Supporting Indigenous stewardship in Canada and throughout the hemisphere is a key part of the work of Audubon Americas now and in the future.

Reinstating Key Management Plans for Greater Sage-Grouse in the West

In May The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would begin an effort to restore previous plans to conserve Greater Sage-Grouse populations

. In 2015, stakeholders from across the West reached an historic agreement to save the sage-grouse—an agreement that the last administration ignored and undermined

. The announcement came hot on the heels of a report from the United States Geological Survey showing that sage-grouse populations have declined 80 percent

 since 1965, a more dramatic decline than previously thought. There are more than 350 different species of wildlife and plants as well as hunters, ranchers, and whole communities that depend on a healthy sagebrush steppe. 

Securing Funding and Support for Great Lakes Restoration

In January, past President Trump signed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act into law, which will allow Congress to increase the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program’s funding

 incrementally from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. This law is a huge win for the all those that depend on the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet. For the past ten years, this initiative has been a proven success, funding more than 5,000 projects that have improved water quality and driven real and positive impacts for communities, wildlife, and economy across the Great Lakes region.

Video: Christine Lin/Audubon

Protecting 300,000 Acres of Wetlands Throughout the Great Lakes Region

In March, Audubon Great Lakes announced the release of an ambitious new report Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Great Lakes for Birds and People that offers a blueprint for how to best conserve indispensable coastal areas

 to address the threats facing the Great Lakes region. The report outlines Audubon’s conservation efforts, which includes 8 state-based, 12 region-wide, and 42 projects to restore or protect the highest priority 300,000 acres of habitat for birds and people over the next decade. As the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet, the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people and its coastal habitats support over 350 bird species.

Making Climate Justice a Central Concern

In September, the State of Illinois passed the most equitable clean energy jobs bill of its kind in the nation

.  The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act sets Illinois on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, while creating jobs for Black and brown communities that too often are on the frontline of our climate crisis. For three years, Audubon Great Lakes and more than 4,600 of its members mobilized as part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition in support of the bill in Illinois.

Bringing Climate Resilience to Infrastructure

The recent passage of the 

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

 (H.R. 3684) brings hope for birds, ecosystems, and communities in the arid West. The Act is a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris Administration, addressing long-awaited infrastructure needs with historic amounts of funding for transportation, electricity, and broadband internet projects. Audubon widely supported this bill

, especially funding that will address the ongoing climate crisis, including for clean energy projects, climate resiliency upgrades, transit, and electric vehicles. 

Halting Land Giveaways to Mining Companies in Alaska

In April, the Bureau of Land Management announced it was reversing efforts

 made by the Trump administration to quietly open millions of acres of Alaska’s public land—known as D1 lands—to future mining and oil and gas development. Opening these lands to mining interests would have put these diverse ecosystems, which support major salmon streams, caribous calving grounds, and nationally and internationally recognized Important Bird Areas, at risk.

Fostering Bipartisan Support to Protect a Critically Important Watershed

The Delaware River Watershed is a complex system of forests, rivers, marshes, and urban landscapes, covering 13,500 square miles and 2,000 rivers and streams across Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

In April, U.S. Representatives Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) announced the formation of the Congressional Delaware River Watershed Caucus

. The caucus will serve as an informal, bipartisan group of members of Congress dedicated to issues related to the Delaware River watershed and its landscape-scale programs focused on water quality and quantity, ecological restoration, and conservation. The watershed provides life-sustaining resources to a wide array of birds, from the Saltmarsh Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler, and Wood Thrush to the Ruddy Duck, Red Knot, and American Black Duck, and it supplies drinking water to more than 13.3 million people.

Source : https://www.audubon.org/news/top-2021-legal-wins-birds

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