Audubon's 2024 Legislative Session in Maryland

Thank you for all that you did for birds and for Maryland’s environment. We could not celebrate the legislative success of 2024 without you! Below is a list of Audubon's accomplishments in Maryland during the 2024 legislative session.

Audubon's 2024 priorities in Maryland that passed:
  • The Whole Watershed Act (SB 969) - accelerates restoration of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays watersheds through the beneficial use of dredge material and large-scale restoration efforts – which will benefit programs such as Audubon Mid-Atlantic’s Marshes for Tomorrow. This innovative approach will focus restoration resources on entire watersheds rather than small sections.

  • The Gwynns Falls State Park Study and Advisory Group (HB 1358) - establishes a working group to develop a path forward for Gwynns Falls Leakin Park in Baltimore to become a State Park Partnership Park, bringing much needed resources to this ecological and cultural gem in West Baltimore – improving bird habitat and environmental justice.

  • The Brighter Tomorrow Act (SB 783) - provides incentives for solar energy development to be located on rooftops, over parking lots, and in already disturbed lands such as brownfields, preventing forest and habitat fragmentation while promoting renewable energy development.

  • The Biodiversity Protection Act (HB 979) - requires the Department of Agriculture to maintain a list of invasive plant species and develop a “prohibited list” which may ban the sale of those listed species. This will improve ecosystem health for birds and their food sources in Maryland.

  • Critical Area Administrative Changes Law (HB 233) - gives the Maryland Department of Natural Resources more authority to guide land development away from sensitive tidal and coastal habitats, while also providing local jurisdictions with more resources to plan future land use while taking climate change, habitat conservation and environmental justice into consideration.

  • Fish and Wildlife – Endangered and Threatened Species (HB 345) - requires the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to regularly update the state’s list of endangered or threatened species, while also regularly reviewing the definitions which make up the criteria to be endangered or threatened. This will bring more consistency to the process of protecting birds and other wildlife in the state.

  • Offshore Projects – Alterations (HB 1296) - allows the Public Utilities Commission to increase the amount of offshore wind renewable credits available for purchase and production. This will open more opportunities for appropriately sited wind energy to be made available off the coast of Maryland and for that energy to power Maryland homes and businesses. 

  • EMPOWER (HB 864) - requires utility companies to develop plans for achieving energy efficiency through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and conservation. This promotes energy efficiency through incentivizing costumers to make the switch to electric appliances therefore reducing pollution which impacts birds and bird habitat in Maryland. 

  • Clean Water Justice Act (HB 1101) - restores protections for some Maryland waters that were lost in the Supreme Court decision in Sackett vs EPA. Specifically, this Act restores the right of communities harmed by water pollution to bring a lawsuit against polluters in those waters. Over 60% of streams in Maryland lost this protection following the decision, but this act brings protection back to the people and birds that rely on Maryland’s waterways.

  • Pollinator Habitat Plan – Requirements for State Highway Administration (HB 22) - requires the State Highway Administration (SHA) to develop and monitor funding sources and planting plans for beneficial pollinator habitats in SHA land near state-maintained roads. This will lead to less mowing and more diverse habitats for birds’ food sources throughout the state.

Together we blocked a bad bill: 
A bill called the Program Open Space Energy Storage Act (
SB 685) would have allowed land acquired through Program Open Space Funding (land set aside for public access and habitat conservation) to be used for energy development and energy storage. Thank you to all our chapters and members who made their voices heard in opposition to this bad bill! 
What lies ahead? 
Moving forward we will make sure that the bird friendly legislation that passed this year moves towards implementation. Now that session is over, we will continue to work with our community partners and state agencies to advance appropriately-sited renewable energy, restore Maryland’s special bird habitat, and protect our waterways, forests, and parks so that birds and people can thrive in a healthy environment.

Spring Migration in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Every year during the spring and fall months, tens of millions of birds pass through cities such as Philadelphia. While lights can throw birds off their migration paths, bird fatalities are more directly caused by the amount of energy the birds waste flying around and calling out in confusion. The exhaustion can then leave them vulnerable to other urban threats. 

Simply turning your lights off from midnight until 6am during the spring migration from April 1 through May 31, and during the fall migration from August 15 through November 15 can potentially reduce bird collision death by up to 80%. For more information about Lights Out in the Philadelphia area, check out this fact sheet from Bird Safe Philly. You can also visit this page on Audubon’s website to learn more about nationwide Lights Out efforts.

The Bird Migration Explorer is a tool developed by the National Audubon Society, which tracks the heroic annual journeys made by over 450 bird species nationwide. Click below to learn more about our local migratory species, along with their locations and the conservation challenges they face.

2024 Legislative Tracker

As the legislative seasons get underway in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, Audubon Mid-Atlantic has created new on-line tools that track our legislative priorities. The Pennsylvania tracker can be found here, and the Maryland tool can be found here
The tools identify Audubon's priority legislation during this legislative session and describe Audubon Mid-Atlantic's position. The tools will track the status of the identified bills and explain how the legislation would support priority birds and their habitats in our region. We hope it will help you to keep tabs on our legislative priorities throughout the 2024 sessions. 

9th Annual I Bird I Vote Conservation Summit

Audubon Mid-Atlantic held its 2024 I Bird I Vote Conservation Summit on Saturday, February 10th in Annapolis, Maryland.  More than 85 people attended the summit, participating in lively conversation and hearing from federal, state and nonprofit leaders on the status of Maryland conservation policy and projects, with a particular emphasis on coastal marsh conservation and renewable energy. 
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Josh Kurtz joined the summit as guest speakers - sharing insights on Audubon's priority legislation and how attendees can work with them to protect birds and their habitats. Audubon leaders also had the opportunity to thank Senator Cardin, who is retiring this year, for his outstanding leadership in the Senate on environmental issues. Senator Cardin has a true champion of birds and, during his remarks, he let the audience know how much birds mean to him.
The audience learned more about Audubon's key conservation priority in Maryland—Marshes for Tomorrowand the plan to save these marshes for birds and people. 
If you attended the 2024 I Bird I Vote Summit, please fill out this short survey! It will help us to develop the 10th anniversary of the I Bird I Vote Summit in 2025! 
Audubon Maryland-DC and Audubon Pennsylvania have joined forces to become Audubon Mid-Atlantic.