Conservation Report - January 2022
- Last Updated: December 23, 2021
By Tim Manns
On January 10th the sixty-day legislative session begins in Olympia. In Washington State’s two-year budget cycle, 2022 is a non-budget writing year, but there can be tweaks. In mid-December Governor Inslee announced his proposed supplementary budget, including among other things, measures to move our state further in addressing climate change and ones focused on recovering salmon.
For some years National Audubon and Audubon Washington have had a strong legislative focus on the transformation needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change on birds, people, and, truly, all life. In Olympia, Audubon staff and chapter members will urge elected officials to finish last session’s work and pass House Bill 1099. This update to the Growth Management Act would require counties and cities to address climate change (sea level rise, emissions reduction, and more) in revising their comprehensive and shoreline plans, something Skagit County has chosen not to do voluntarily.
Another Audubon emphasis is promoting installation of solar energy equipment in developed areas (i.e. rooftops, parking lots, etc.), particularly community solar systems so that less wealthy individuals can also benefit from solar energy. This approach to installing solar contrasts with focusing most such development in rural areas where siting can be problematic for farmland and native habitat. East of the Cascades there are currently proposals for 40 large solar projects on over 54,000 acres, including much shrub-steppe habitat. Audubon supports solar as essential to transitioning from fossil fuels, but siting needs to, and can, avoid impacts to key wildlife habitat and productive
farmland. Paralleling Governor Inslee’s budget request, Audubon asks that Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife be adequately staffed to evaluate and minimize these projects’ potential adverse environmental effects. Audubon also seeks to protect the funding in place to map least-conflict sites for solar installations. Improving protection for shorelines where forage fish spawn is an on-going Audubon legislative focus. These small fish are essential food for many sea birds and for salmon.
Details about these and other Audubon Washington’s legislative priorities are at: https://wa.audubon.org/sites/default/files/static_pages/attachments/audubon_2022_session_talking_points.pdf. Sign up to receive updates during the legislative session: https://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2022. When bill numbers are available associated with these priorities, go to the Legislature’s web site for the text of each bill, to track its progress, and to express your support or opposition during the session (https://leg.wa.gov). Watch for information about advocacy day and please participate.
For information on other issues Skagit Audubon is tracking go to “Conservation Notes” under the “Conservation” tab on the chapter’s website (www.skagitaudubon.org).