Dear Auduboners: We had a very successful Board of Directors meeting earlier this month in St. Louis, Missouri, and summarized below are some of the highlights. First, and most importantly, Audubon elected a new Chair, Carol Browner, who will lead the board when Donal O’Brien ends his term this fall. I hope you saw my previous email on this important event. Audubon has relied on Donal's talents and energy for a decade and more. He has helped build Audubon and served tirelessly as a guide and resource for the organization. Audubon has never had a truer friend or supporter. Carol Browner, the longest serving Administrator in EPA history, was elected to the Board in 2001. Since then, she has become an indispensable member of the team. Her abilities and experience bring new skills to Audubon: her tenure will be exciting and marked by new accomplishments. Also at this meeting the full board approved a 2004 budget for the organization of approximately $78 million. I must thank Roger Still, Director of Audubon Missouri, his excellent staff, and Audubon Missouri Board President Charles Burwick for graciously hosting the Board and their guests, and Audubon senior staff. Roger and Charles have created a successful state program in very short order, and they also found time to make us all feel very welcome. There is more to tell you about, so please read on. Thank you, John Flicker Audubon Board Meeting Update St. Louis, Missouri June 6-8, 2003 Friday Pre-Meeting Field Trip and Business Committee Reports The meeting began Friday with a visit by a number of NAS board members, Audubon Missouri staff and board, and NAS staff members to a site where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet. Audubon Missouri is assessing its viability as a possible Audubon Center location. Also taking place Friday was a joint meeting of the Development and Marketing & Communications Committees. The two committees met separately as well. At the joint meeting, discussions were held on the best approaches for maintaining a robust Audubon membership. Staff offered some ideas about specific new programs to test in the marketplace. The board asked that these programs be further refined and discussed at the board meeting in September. At the Marketing & Communications Committee an exciting new addition to the Audubon web site was presented. It will be a reference for 150 of the most common birds in America, complete with an identification system, range maps, bird songs, and information on how people can help protect each bird. Research has shown that nearly half of all visitors to www.audubon.org <http://www.audubon.org/> seek such “basic bird information” and this new site addition will address those needs. Program Committee Reports Science Committee The Committee reviewed the Science department’s proposed FY04 Science budget. Science staff has raised $3.5M of the projected $3.9M budget, with revenue sources comprised of support from major donors, foundations, corporations, and fees. The committee discussed policy guidelines for acceptance of corporate money, and approved support of the Waterbirds/IBA initiative from the Monsanto Fund. Several committee members enthusiastically endorsed greater effort to work with model programs in Wildlife Friendly Agriculture. The second half of the meeting was devoted to the broad question of factors contributing to annual mortality of birds. Roughly half of each bird population die annually mostly as a result of food or habitat limitations and predation. Incidental mortality, especially collisions with man-made objects, is rarely a driving source of annual mortality. This includes collisions with wind farm structures, which now are designed to minimize bird deaths. Our working position is that we support renewable energy, including wind power, subject to siting issues, including environmental impact assessments. The committee discussed particularly the controversial, large scale wind farms proposed for the Massachusetts coast, and agreed that NAS should follow the lead of Massachusetts Audubon. The potential impact of this farm on wintering waterfowl and staging Roseate Terns requires study. Plate glass windows are of much greater concern as a source of bird mortality. Recent estimates project annual losses of 100's of millions to perhaps a billion birds annually. Slight adjustments of window angles can substantially reduce collisions. The committee agreed to put this topic on next meetings agenda for a more substantial discussion. States and Chapters Committee Senior Vice President of Field Operation Les Corey and Committee Chair Dave Pardoe introduced Peg Olson, a new Vice President of State Programs who will oversee the eastern section of the country. Board Member Bill McQuilkin gave a progress report for the Audubon Chapter Ad Hoc Committee, which has been working to identify Audubon Chapter priority issues. To facilitate communication, the committee has established a list serve with Regionally Nominated Directors; held a conference call with State Directors; requested input from Audubon board members and; and held a meeting of chapter leaders in Columbus, Ohio on May 31, 2003. A discussion will be held at the Audubon-California board meeting in June; Bill will also attend the State Directors Conference in August to obtain their input ; and Regional Directors will distribute a draft document to all Chapters and organize meetings for Chapter leaders to discuss potential solutions. The committee will present a report and request initial action by the Audubon Board at its meeting in September 2003. Further dialogue with Chapters and Audubon State programs will take place through autumn, with a final set of recommendations going to the Audubon Board in January 2004. Glenn Olson apprised the committee of the following National/Chapter collaborative projects: the Audubon California Morris Doyle Luncheon honoring chapter leaders involved in San Francisco Bay Restoration; a dinner hosted by NAS with Chapter sponsorship from the Orleans and Baton Rouge Audubon societies to focus attention the rapid deterioration and loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands; the Seattle Audubon/NAS collaboration, Audubon at Home in Seattle; Gardening for Life; and a $9000 donation presented to Montana Audubon for the planned Center in Billings at the 50th Anniversary of the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society. The States and Chapters committee also heard detailed updates from Texas State Director Terry Austin on the bird conservation and education progress being made in Texas; and Missouri State Director Roger Still and Audubon Missouri board chair, Charlie Burwick on the progress and challenges of building a start-up state program and important projects including the Center in Joplin and the feasibility of extending the Audubon Ark program to St. Louis. The committee also received an update from Director of Real Estate on a proposed 900-acre addition to Beidler forest in South Carolina and a land exchange at Strawberry Plains in Mississippi that would consolidate the site and improve access to the Center: both proposals passed unanimously. Public Policy Committee The Committee spent time first reviewing the 2004 budget for policy and the expense projected for policy work throughout Audubon. The Committee received and discussed a report on highlights of recent activities in Washington, including efforts to improve funding for conservation. Work on State Wildlife Grants, Tax incentives for conservation work on private property, and funding for Audubon Centers were discussed. Team efforts between State offices and the DC office are working on about 15 different Audubon centers; Audubon was also the largest contributor of participants in a “lobbying day” in DC for State Wildlife Grants. The Committee recapped efforts on Arctic voting in Congress and the continuing efforts there, the work on Dept of Defense exemptions from environmental and conservation laws, and the tremendous efforts organization wide on the regulatory process in DC on defining which waters in the US will receive protection under the Clean Water Act. Not only was a significant national set of comments worked on with our partners in conservation, but also, 10 state offices separately commented on the regulations and almost 3000 Audubon Advocates sent in individual comments. All advocated keeping the broadest definition of “waters of the US” and maintaining Clean Water Act protections for them all. The basic premise - if small streams and wetlands are polluted, we won’t be able to clean the larger ones, was our theme. The meeting ended with a consensus of continuing to build momentum toward making Audubon a national force for the strengthening of clean water protections. As more than 50% of our IBAs will be dependant on clean available water, this is an important cross-cutting issue. The Committee asked the DC office, working with Carol Browner, to continue refining a 3- to 5-year strategy and to develop a strong fund raising plan to build capacity in DC and the states. The committee also discussed working on proactively building relationships with key members of the US Senate. Getting them involved with positive activities to build these relationships will be a priority. Grass Roots activities this year include over 35,000 letters to Congress and the Administration on issues as varied as the Arctic to protecting Cerulean Warblers. 50 presentations, 10 training sessions, 25 Congressional District office visits, 6 “Audubon evenings”, 23 tabling efforts, and a major policy discussion reception in Louisiana on Coastal restoration. Centers and Education Committee The joint committee examined the sustainability of Audubon Centers during difficult economic times. Tamar Chotzen, SVP of Centers and Education traced the 80-year history of Audubon Centers, which endure regardless of economy, politics, or changes in Audubon leadership. Tamar emphasized the important roles that staff, volunteer leadership, and strong local constituencies play in sustaining Centers, and she described Audubon’s business model, emphasizing its three-part revenue mix of contributed, earned, and endowment income, which is being closely adhered to. She presented the cumulative budget for Audubon Centers, which continues to balance each year, and demonstrates controlled annual growth. Tamar described the role Centers play in leveraging state program success, integrating with policy and science, and attracting new donations to Audubon; more than $85 million in the past five years. The committee passed a new Center approval process ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability at all levels of the organization. An update on the status of the Waimea Audubon Center was provided, along with news articles on the project and the announcement that the grand opening will be in October 2003. Finally, the joint committee approved a resolution to pursue the establishment of three new Audubon Centers: Jones Beach Audubon Center, a partnership with New York State Parks; Kalers Pond Audubon Center, a partnership with the Moriches Bay Audubon Society, also in New York; and a Center in the Bitterroot Valley of Missoula, Montana. The Centers and education committee then focused on evaluation and outcomes of Audubon Centers. Tamar Chotzen showcased a program evaluation tool designed for peer-to-peer review. She emphasized Audubon’s desire to create a culture of continual improvement and professional development through the peer review process, and developing long-term research to demonstrate the outcomes of Audubon Centers. The committee discussed existing standards for Centers and proposed four core outcomes be measured: developing the next generation of conservation leaders; engaging a diverse constituency in conservation; increasing personal conservation actions; and improvement to local resources and habitat. A task force of the committee was established to develop a plan for researching some or all of these outcomes. The committee also was given brief updates on our green building program and Audubon Adventures. Regional Directors Committee The Regional Directors brainstormed ideas for the format and content of the Annual Members' Meeting, tentatively scheduled for early December, and then spent the majority of the committee meeting reviewing the Priority Issues paper developed by the Ad Hoc Committee, of which Bill McQuilkin is chair. The Committee focused on identifying the best methods for soliciting and compiling feedback from Chapter leaders. Following the Board meeting, the Priority Issues paper will be sent to Chapter Presidents and Treasurers for their review and consideration with cover letters from each Regional Director. Board Forum The Forum on Saturday featured a presentation on the ecological threats to bays, estuaries and sounds, by Bob Perciasepe, senior vice president of public policy and acting chief operating officer. It was noted that Audubon has a long history of working to protect these vital areas for birds and would continue to do so in the future. The second half of the forum focused on Audubon's activities in Latin America. Presentations were made by Audubon’s Director of International Bird Conservation Bob Ridgely, Director of Latin American Programs Alejandro Grajal, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Chief Executive Graham Wynne, and Executive Director of Guyra Paraguay Alberto Yanosky.