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House passes major conservation bill, sending it to Trump’s desk

There's been some encouraging conservation news of late, with bipartisan support for the Great American Outdoors Act. According to The Hill, President Trump is expected to sign the bill which would provide $900 million, annually, in federal oil and gas revenues for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps secure land for trails and parks.

“The House on Wednesday approved a major public lands conservation bill, sending it to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

The measure passed in a 310-107 vote.

The bill, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would provide $900 million in federal oil and gas revenues for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps secure land for trails and parks…”

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Cornell University divesting from fossil fuels to focus on alternative energy, renewables

Is your land trust, or other companies in your community, evaluating their financial investments? Large investment firms and universities are transitioning for both economic and mission purposes.

The investments for this category are expected to decrease to zero over the next five to seven years as the investments mature, according to Bob Howarth, a Cornell professor of ecology and environmental biology who helped lead the divestment efforts and now heads the University Assembly.

Instead of investing in fossil fuels, the university will grow its $6.9 billion endowment portfolio by investing in alternative energy and renewables…

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Citizen Science At The Beach

Volunteers mapping the state of Maine’s beaches since 1999

Beach profiling is a simple surveying technique used to measure changes in the contour of the monitored beach. The Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Profile Monitoring Program is a unique collaboration among local volunteers, participating municipalities, and scientists, resulting in over 20 years of critical data on the status of one of Maine’s most vital and valuable natural resources…

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SB Coast Manager

Community alliance for surveying the topography of sandy beaches

Join us on the beach!

Community Alliance for Surveying the Topography of Sandy Beaches (CoAST SB) volunteers monitor the movement of our shoreline in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. We measure the contour of sandy beaches (known as beach profiles) using a quick and simple survey technique that takes approximately one hour, once per month. No experience is necessary…

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Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership

Grant for climate resilience outreach, education

This initiative also protects open spaces for public enjoyment in the form of parks, trails, and hunting lands. The threats of climate change compound the need for coordinated land protection effort to ensure a vibrant Delmarva Peninsula for years to come.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy: This project, entitled “Rise and Thrive: Building Understanding and Support for Climate Action on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” is the second grant awarded to ESLC’s coastal resilience program by the Rauch Foundation in as many years.

The purpose of this project is to directly engage public and private audiences in order to build regional public support for climate adaptation solutions. The Eastern Shore of Maryland is the country’s third most vulnerable region to sea level rise, behind south Florida and Louisiana. Because of the threats of increased flooding, the loss of properties, and widespread ecological impacts, ESLC is working with communities to take action on these threats today…

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Black And White Farmers
Dorie Hagler

Opinion: Climate change is a local issue

One of the critical aspects of climate change work is to talk about it, ground it in the local reality of what people are experiencing, and then show how they can be part of the solution. Here's an example of an opinion piece in the press:

“It seems clear that many residents of Taos understand and are experiencing signs of different climate evolving here and wish our government to acknowledge that we need to alter our planning for this future. Fortunately for Taos, we have had in place for many years a mechanism for landowners to preserve this kind of land—Taos Land Trust.

But the town and county need to acknowledge and put into place official protections for arable land. And, of course, aside from forever destroying arable, acequia-watered land, an entity like Family Dollar only chips away at the unique beauty of the authentic New Mexican village like El Prado…”

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Kennebec Land Trust
Brian Kent | Kennebec Land Trust

Sustainability and climate change initiatives

Increasingly, land trusts are recognizing that the public expects an authentic, integrated approach. Small land trusts can help connect the dots in a big way.

In their most recent climate initiative, the Kennebec Land Trust Finance Committee worked with Kennebec Savings Bank Investment and Trust Services to move their investments into a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) portfolio that is aligned with their mission. SRI considers environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.

As managers of forestland, they use and promote forest management practices that maximize carbon sequestration, including: protecting soil carbon, where about 50% of the carbon inventory is typically stored on a forested acre; promoting native species and increasing plant diversity to improve forest resiliency and carbon storage; harvesting sustainably; and taking a long-term view by growing high-value and larger diameter trees. On the ground, their forestry days at the Curtis Homestead are teaching the next generations…

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Black Bear

Wildlife collapse from climate change is predicted to hit suddenly and sooner

This research is notable. We need to recognize that the pace and urgency of moving off fossil fuels is more apparent than ever. So, too, is our energy consumption. You and your land trust can help promote incentives to reduce energy use.

“It’s not that it happens in some places,” said Cory Merow, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut and one of the study’s authors. “No matter how you slice the analysis, it always seems to happen.”

If greenhouse gas emissions remain on current trajectories, the research showed that abrupt collapses in tropical oceans could begin in the next decade [emphasis added]. Coral bleaching events over the last several years suggest that these losses have already started, the scientists said. Collapse in tropical forests, home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, could follow by the 2040s…

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A Residential Street Alongside A Major Oil Refinery In Port Arthur

Unequal Impact: The deep links between racism and climate change

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have cast stark new light on the racism that remains deeply embedded in U.S. society. It is as present in matters of the environment as in other aspects of life: Both historical and present-day injustices have left people of color exposed to far greater environmental health hazards than whites.

Elizabeth Yeampierre has been an important voice on these issues for more than two decades. As co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, she leads a coalition of more than 70 organizations focused on addressing racial and economic inequities together with climate change. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Yeampierre draws a direct line from slavery and the rapacious exploitation of natural resources to current issues of environmental justice. “I think about people who got the worst food, the worst health care, the worst treatment, and then when freed, were given lands that were eventually surrounded by things like petrochemical industries,” says Yeampierre.

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Protesting For Blm Movement
Gav Goulder/In Pictures via Getty Images

How to help Black people breathe

Nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police continued last night. In D.C., police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a peaceful protest on Swann Street, kettling them in so they had nowhere to run. Police perpetrated acts of seemingly senseless violence in other cities, too. The Verge has a short list here.

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