Advocacy Position Statements
The current advocacy efforts of Valley Forge Audubon Society (VFAS) are focused in 4 main areas: climate change, wildlife and habitat conservation, clean water, and environmental education.
Statement on Climate Change
Valley Forge Audubon Society agrees with the scientific consensus that the Earth is warming, that our climate is changing at a rapid pace, and that this change is in large part due to human activity. Emission of greenhouse gases due to the use of fossil fuels and deforestation are among the most significant categories of such activity. This changing of the Earth’s climate brings with it environmental impacts on numerous ecosystems, including serious negative effects on birds, other wildlife, and vegetation in our area. We support initiatives at the personal, community, and governmental (local, state, and federal) levels to reduce greenhouse gases, to preserve and improve natural habitats, and to educate the public on the causes and impacts of climate change.
Valley Forge Audubon Society supports the development of renewable, sustainable energy sources such as geothermal, solar, and wind energies. The siting of these facilities must be undertaken with careful, science-based attention to the potential environmental impact to sensitive landscapes, including habitats that support threatened or endangered species, raptor and bat concentrations, flyways and migration routes, wetland and riparian zones, and areas that have been specifically designated as conserved lands by private or governmental bodies. Further, we support distributed generation projects such as rooftop solar, community solar, and home geothermal systems.
While the VFAS supports the development and use of such alternative/renewable sources of energy, we recognize that solar fields and wind turbines are also associated with bird (and bat) collisions resulting in thousands of deaths annually. The chapter supports use of methods that diminish such deaths.
There are over 2.6 million miles of pipelines nationwide in the US. The existence of pipelines through populated and environmentally sensitive areas poses well-documented risks such as toxic leakages and sinkholes. We are in favor of improved regulation and oversight of existing pipelines. We do not support the construction of any additional pipelines through previously undisturbed lands and habitats. Where there is a proven need for more capacity in the transition away from fossil fuels to sustainable, renewable energy sources, this capacity should only be constructed along already disturbed rights-of-way.
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is the process of extracting natural gas and/or light oil from tight rock formations using fluids, chemicals, etc. at high pressure to break or “fracture” the rock and release the hydrocarbons. Valley Forge Audubon Society opposes the extraction of fossil fuels in general because of its impact on the climate and fracking in particular because of the known and potential impacts on the environment from this technology. Fracking operations are known to pollute groundwater, increase the incidence of earthquakes, and deliberately vent as well as inadvertently leak methane, a strong greenhouse gas 64 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas.
Valley Forge Audubon Society supports the elimination of single-use plastic and rapid reduction in overall plastic use. From production, through use, and finally disposal, every step of the plastic life cycle creates pollution. Plastics in the US are generally produced from natural gas, with feedstocks derived from natural gas processing and from crude oil refining. Plastics in the oceans and other bodies of water kill and maim birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals, and plastic is frequently found in bird nests. Problems with plastics reach into every part of our environment, food chain, and bodies. Greenhouse gasses are emitted into our air at production and mountains of toxic waste pile up on land throughout the globe with dire environmental and health consequences resulting from irresponsible disposal. Toxic chemicals are released and climb the food chain while microplastics are in our drinking water and oceans. Valley Forge Audubon recognizes that addressing plastic pollution is critical to ensuring the health and safety of birds, other wildlife, and our environment.
Statement on Wildlife and Habitat Conservation
Valley Forge Audubon Society is committed to protecting wildlife populations with a focus on birds. VFAS is concerned about the destruction, degradation, and fragmentation of viable habitat for wild plants and animals, which may harm local populations, lead to local extinctions, and increase human-wildlife conflicts. VFAS urges citizens and communities to preserve open space, encourage nature-friendly development of farmland, preserve or restore watersheds, and protect waterways in both public and private areas. VFAS encourages the protection of land and water habitats at the local, state, and federal levels.
Creating healthy native habitats has long been a focus of the Valley Forge Audubon Society. VFAS encourages all residents and communities to preserve natural lands and plant native plants in their yards or other habitat-poor areas. By being a leader in wildlife, native plant, and bird education, VFAS ensures that the public learns more about our indigenous natural environment and actively engages in wildlife preservation efforts.
VFAS recognizes the damage done to native habitats and wildlife by invasive species and seeks their removal or mitigation. It is important, however, that mitigation efforts do not harm birds and other native species. VFAS recognizes that pesticide use and some other mitigation methods, such as the use of tape on trees to kill spotted lanternflies, can maim and kill birds, and urges that these harmful methods be avoided.
VFAS is aware of the millions of bird deaths each year as a result of collisions with windows and reflective/ transparent surfaces on buildings and other manmade structures. The Chapter is in favor of efforts to educate people about these dangers, causes, and patterns of collisions and to explore ways to mitigate these deaths.
Statement on Clean Water
Valley Forge Audubon Society recognizes the need for clean and accessible water as a vital resource for the continued health and quality of human life, to ensure bird and wildlife survival, and to support healthy plant life. VFAS is committed to ensuring that the water in the greater Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties remains clean to support flora and fauna on the land where we work, play, and live and so that water may re-enter the Delaware and Schuylkill River watersheds unpolluted and as pure as possible.
Valley Forge Audubon Society is committed to working along with its partners and the general public to ensure continued support for the protections of our water resources through education about Clean Water laws and policies and by promoting personal actions to protect and conserve our water resources. VFAS supports the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to natural resources including clean water in its Constitution and the Clean Water Act
(33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq.) passed by the United States Congress in 1972.
Statement on Education
Valley Forge Audubon Society believes that environmental education should create a connection to the natural world, provide scientifically accurate information, and inspire action by responsible citizens of the Earth. VFAS supports public policies at all levels that strengthen environmental and science education.
Specifically, VFAS advocates for high-quality, science-based environmental education that:
- Reaches everyone, regardless of demographic and socioeconomic factors.
- Inspires people of all ages, especially children, to go outdoors.
- Enriches all levels of learning, especially school curricula.
- Connects with and supports scientific understanding and research.
- Promotes lifelong interests and activities.
- Provides opportunities for participants to make personal changes that can positively impact the environment.
Statement on Clean Air
Valley Forge Audubon Society affirms the importance of clean air for the health and well-being of people, birds, and wildlife. VFAS supports the Clean Air Act, the federal law designed to control air pollution which is credited with saving as many as 1.5 billion birds in the past 40 years in addition to preventing millions of human deaths since 1963. VFAS recognizes that areas with lower ozone pollution tend to have more birds; in the eastern United States, reduced emissions of nitrous oxide have substantially benefited migratory birds, including finches and warblers, which may be especially impacted by ozone pollution. VFAS supports the strengthening of clean air laws that are based on the results of scientific research to further reduce ground-level ozone pollution, particle pollution (soot), and other emissions, and improve and protect air quality for the benefit of people, birds, and wildlife worldwide. Further, recognizing the interrelationship between air quality and climate change, VFAS supports strong action on climate change to reduce its negative impacts on clean air, including stronger wildfires and other environmental changes that are occurring more rapidly than birds and wildlife can adapt.
Statement on Environmental Justice
The National Audubon Society has made “equity, diversity, and inclusion a strategic imperative,” affirming that “Respect, inclusion, and opportunity for people of all backgrounds, lifestyles, and perspectives will attract the best ideas and harness the greatest passion to shape a healthier, more vibrant future for all of us who share our planet” (www.audubon.org/about/edi accessed 1/22/2021). Valley Forge Audubon Society seeks, in its activities, organizational structures, and statements, to welcome everyone, including those who may not have felt comfortable with Audubon in the past, free from discrimination based on race, color, politics, economic status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, national or ethnic origin, or veteran status.
VFAS recognizes that the climate change and pollution which threaten birds and other wildlife tend to impact some communities more negatively than others. Specifically, poorer communities, communities with many people of color, and indigenous communities are often disproportionately hurt by pollution from factories, highways, and climate-related catastrophes including hurricanes and fires. Too many people do not have good access to clean water, clean air, and the natural lands where birds and other wildlife thrive. VFAS is committed to making environmental justice an essential element in our work and to ensuring that all people who are interested in joining our activities and organizational structures feel welcome and included.