(ALBANY, NY) – At today’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo demonstrated admirable commitment and leadership to protecting New York’s birds and our natural world. As birds and people face the urgent threat of climate change, we must take bold action now to make a difference.
The proposed $3 billion Restore Mother Nature bond act, the first environmental bond act in over 24 years, will provide a critical source of recurring funding for protecting our environment. This funding will restore our streams, wetlands, and coasts and support the wildlife that depends on them. Improved resiliency will also help protect the places birds and people need, in the face of climate-related threats like flooding and sea level rise. We look forward to seeing this initiative on the ballot in November.
The Governor’s proposal to conserve nearly 2,000 acres of open space designated as Audubon Important Bird Areas in the Mid-Hudson Valley is mission-critical. Without healthy, appropriate places to nest, forage, and rest during migration, bird populations decline. Birds are already threatened by climate change, and protecting essential habitat can help them face an uncertain future.
Decreasing our reliance on single-use plastic will reduce the amount of pollution in our oceans and waterways, helping to prevent accidental ingestion by coastal and marine birds. We are pleased that the Governor has proposed this nation-leading ban on polystyrene packaging and thank him for his leadership on this important issue.
Audubon was proud to serve on the Reimagine Task Force and offer our expertise in wetland restoration and invasive species management along the Erie Canal corridor. The funding proposed by the Governor will improve habitat in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which serves as a migratory stopover for one million birds each year.
We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to accomplish these important goals, and protecting New York’s environment for birds and people.
State of the State Proposals benefitting birds and other wildlife:
● Provide $3 billion for the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, funding natural solutions that will increase our resiliency to climate change. Restoring our wetlands, improving water quality, and making our fisheries more sustainable will be good for birds and people.
● Reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. Plastics have become a pervasive pollutant in our oceans and pose a major threat to marine and coastal wildlife. On average, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year due to littering, illegal dumping, and poor waste management on land and at sea. This proposal would build on last year’s ban on plastic bags by phasing out the use of Styrofoam packaging in New York State.
● Conserve Open Space. Acquisitions of open space provide new opportunities for habitat protection and public recreation. Preserving nearly 2,000 acres at Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Schunnemunk State Park, Sterling Forest State Park, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and Fahnestock State Park – all of which are Audubon Important Bird Areas - will ensure that critical bird habitat remains protected.
● Reimagine the Erie Canal. Audubon was proud to serve on the Reimagine Task Force and aid in the development of proposals that will pair economic development with strategies to restore wetlands and combat invasive species. These efforts will improve habitat in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which serves as a migratory stopover for one million birds each year. The Governor’s $300 million funding proposal, which includes $135 million for flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration, will provide an important source of funding for realizing these goals.
About Audubon New York
Audubon New York, a state program of the National Audubon Society, protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.ny.audubon.org.