Happy new year! The start of a new year is always a time to reflect and resolve, but the start of a new decade provides even more opportunity for strengthening our convictions. And what a year 2020 promises to be. As our nation gears up for a big election year, Maine recognizes 200 years of statehood, and Earth Day turns 50, we believe this will be an unprecedented time for civic engagement.
Young people are leading the way. Just look at Greta Thunberg (who turns 17 on January 3). Inspired by her commitment, an international movement is showing the world that we can and will commit to changing our lifestyles to make the earth a more livable place. Words like “climate strike” and “climate emergency” were declared 2019 words of the year, entering mainstream conversations thanks to activists like Thunberg.
In 2020, we’ll all need to be engaged, whether it’s at our own houses or the State House. Here are three areas for reflection and resolution:
Ten years ago, I was in my first year of serving as a trustee of Maine Audubon. In those ten years, a lot has happened on the renewable energy front. Nationally, about 550 coal fired power plants (which affect Maine’s lake acidity) have closed down. In Maine, the last decade has seen a significant increase of power from renewable sources. During this decade, we published two significant reports to guide siting of renewable power so that we can meet climate goals while maintaining the health of our wildlife and habitat.
We now have two staff directors participating on subcommittees for the Governor’s Climate Council and multiple staff playing key roles with other climate work groups. This year, we’ll be working on policies that will advance our climate change goals and renewable energy priorities. We’ll also be advocating at the state level for bills that expand protection of wildlife, increase funding for land preservation, and give more power to local land use planners. Look for our Legislative Preview, coming later this month, for an update on the next session of the Maine legislature, our priorities, and ways to take action.
Resolution: Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Ten years ago, we had not yet conceived of our Bringing Nature Home program. Now we work with schools, communities, and individuals around the state to plant native plants in the places we call “home” in order to make better homes for wildlife—particularly migrating birds. Maine Audubon is committed to restoring native plants and wildlife food webs, and our work on native plants will be growing (pun intended!) this spring. Look for a custom-made Maine native plant database on our website, to help you plan and plant native plants in your home, office, or town. Along with our annual native plant sales in June, at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth and Fields Pond in Holden, we’ll be selling native plants at other locations around the state all summer long. Check back in the spring for details.
Resolution: Plant native plants.
Ten years ago, we had a mere 23 nesting pairs of Piping Plovers in Maine and our adult loon count stood at 2700 loons. This year, 89 pairs of Piping Plovers fledged a record 175 chicks and our 2019 population estimate for adult loons, for the southern half of the state, is 3,129. Two things were essential to these successes: strong legislation and volunteer engagement. Because of your support and engagement, we are making solid progress on behalf of Maine’s wildlife—and the people who enjoy it.
Resolution: Get involved.
Best wishes for the New Year, and for even more impactful accomplishments in 2020.