What it Means to Be an Audubon Advocate

By Judy Hallisey, President of Kittitas Audubon

Kittitas Audubon (KAS) is a vibrant chapter in Central Washington that appreciates nature and conservation with a focus on birds.  KAS participates in many bird surveys, including the Sagebrush Songbird Survey and Raptor Surveys, and maintains several Bluebird Trails.  We offer monthly program meetings focused on our environment. As many chapters do, we support and sign letters over environmental issues. We especially are concerned with climate change and its effects on birds; therefore we work diligently to educate and inform our members and the public. 

However, in these trying times, our chapter felt we needed to do more than the usual, and advocate more.  So these past few months we have collaborated with our State Office over natural climate solutions and least-conflict solar siting.  Together we hosted a program on Sustainable Farms, relying on research by a local Central Washington University professor, that shows how our regional farms can become carbon sinks to combat climate change.  This program gave the audience an opportunity to contact their legislative representatives about the need to support natural climate solutions. At least one member met with local county commissioners, advocating for least-conflict siting of renewable energy industries for a win-win solution for conserving agricultural lands and important bird areas.  And KAS began a relationship with our state senator by inviting her to our Christmas Bird Count, and strengthened that relationship through follow-up communications, such as thank you emails and letters to the editor.  

We have found that a little extra effort yields big returns!  KAS gifted Senator Judy Warnick with a KAS-built bluebird nest box. Senator Warnick, in turn, gifted the box to her grandson, who took it to 4-H where the box is being replicated, resulting in many more nest boxes in Eastern Washington!  As the session drew to a close we were thrilled to see Senator Warnick being a champion for the Sustainable Farms and Fields Bill SB 5947 and the least-conflict solar siting budget proviso.  Ultimately, both passed our State legislature this session!! YAY!!  

I urge other chapters to take this next step of doing more to yield even bigger returns.


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