The monthly Audubon Eagle Eye Advocacy Updates will provide you with simple actions you can take to help foster a cleaner, healthier planet along with local and national environmental news. Advocacy to protect birds and wildlife is a top Audubon priority and this work goes beyond testifying on their behalf on Smith Hill. Year round, we are working with our community partners and Rhode Island leaders to ensure the environment is a priority. These updates will keep you informed and ready to take action when the legislative session is upon us. As the newsletter continues, we are very interested in your suggestions and questions. Please send them to Audubon Senior Director of Policy Meg Kerr at email@example.com.
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A Few Sustainability Tips to Kick off the New Year
Happy New Year! We have turned the page from 2020 to 2021. Here are a few ideas to consider to make YOUR New Year a bit more sustainable.
• Drive less. If you can afford it, consider replacing your gas-powered car with a hybrid or all-electric vehicle. With many of us working from home, we are driving a lot less. Challenge yourself to keep your mileage down when life returns to something more normal. And make a plan to eventually replace your gas car with an electric vehicle. Charging stations are becoming more and more available. I have a Chevy Bolt that I use for all of my in-state travel and I love it!
• Walk more and use your bike for transportation. January may not be the time to switch over to riding your bike, but think about your daily routine and find some driving that could be replaced with a walk. Then when it warms up a bit, pull your bike out and put it to good use. For me, I can easily walk or ride my bike to my local library and to the grocery store when there are just a few items to buy.
• Enjoy books and music electronically. I do love the feel of a book, but a more sustainable way to read your favorite new novel is to get an e-reader and buy or borrow the book from your library. The same strategy works for music – download songs and resist the impulse to buy old records or CDs.
• Eat less meat. Producing meat creates a large environmental footprint. Consider fixing healthy vegetarian dishes to replace at least some of the meals on your weekly menu that feature meat.
Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond goes to the voters on March 2
Please Vote YES!
Rhode Island residents will vote on the $74 million 2020 Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond at a special election on March 2, 2021.
Voters will have the option to vote by mail, vote early, or visit a polling place on March 2. The Secretary of State will send every Rhode Island voter a mail ballot application with postage paid return. Applications should arrive the week of January 18. Those who choose to vote by mail should return the application quickly and will receive a ballot in the mail. Voters will also be able to drop off mail ballots at selected locations in their town. Cities and towns will provide early voting between February 10 and March 1, and a limited number of polling places in each town will be open on March 2.
The Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond includes the following programs:
• $33 million for upgrades to state beaches, parks and campgrounds
• $4 million for a park on former Interstate-195 land
• $4 million for local recreation projects
• $3 million for natural and working lands
• $15 million would go to clean water and drinking water
• $7 million for municipal resiliency projects to address climate change
• $6 million for Providence River dredging
• $2 million for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway.
These programs all contribute to keep Rhode Island the beautiful place we all enjoy. We know we can count on your support. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to also vote in support of the bond.
The Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond is one of seven bonds that will be on the ballot. All voters will receive an information handbook from the Secretary of State describing these bonds:
1) $107.3 million for higher education facilities
2) $74 million for the Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond
3) $65 million for housing and community opportunity
4) $71.7 million for transportation infrastructure state match
5) $15 million for early childhood care and education fund
6) $7 million for cultural arts and the economy grant program and state preservation
7) $60 million for industrial facilities infrastructure
The Great Backyard Bee Count
In early December, The New York Times published an article about a new citizen science program designed to count and track bee species. The scientists who have organized the program have modeled the data collection after the Great Backyard Bird Count where birders of all abilities collect data on bird populations in February each year.
The article provides details about this new initiative:
‘ “We’ve learned a lot from scientists in the birding community,” Dr. Woodard said. “We are hoping people of all ages and backgrounds will participate in monitoring bees that are local to their areas.”
The bee count will run through 2023, and the program encourages participants to sign up on its website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ve made collecting data easy,” Dr. Woodard said. “Once you join, you’ll get an email from a coordinator in your area and an app to use to upload photos and basic information of where the photos were taken.”
Scientists working with the program then identify the bees in the photos and record the information for their database.’
If you join this monitoring program, we would love to hear about your experience!
Climate Change Legislation at the 2021 Rhode Island General Assembly
The 2021 Rhode Island House and Senate met on Tuesday, January 5 at remote locations to swear in members and elect leadership. The House met at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, while the Senate met at Rhode Island College's Sapinsley Hall. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio was re-elected into his position, and former Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi was elected to fill the vacancy left by former House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.
The pandemic has made it impossible for the legislature to operate normally. But Audubon has clear legislative priorities that we will work for during the session.
Our top priority is ensuring that Rhode Island updates the 2014 Resilient Rhode Island Act to create mandatory and enforceable greenhouse gas reduction goals that will drive the state’s essential move away from fossil fuels. We will work to see passage of the 2021 version of the Act On Climate bill (2020: H7399 Sponsors: Rep. Blazejewski, Chair Abney, Chair Bennett, Rep. Carson, Rep. Ruggiero and S2165 Sponsors: Sen. Euer, Chair Lynch Prata, Chair Conley, Chair Sosnowski, Sen. Goodwin).
Making this bill our top priority is consistent with the newly adopted Audubon strategic plan which states, “Rhode Island has great plans to respond to climate change. But there is not nearly enough action fast enough from our elected officials and other gatekeepers. We reject the false premise that saving the environment must cause economic distress. As the pandemic is teaching us, nature and the economy are intrinsically linked. We will mobilize our members, and with our partners in the environmental community we will demand that Rhode Island achieves its pledged carbon neutrality and nurtures the natural ecosystems that protect our families, communities, and essential built infrastructure from the threats of a warming climate.”
We will update you each month on the progress of this bill and hope you will join us as we advocate for this critical policy to protect the birds and wildlife we all love so much.