Dear Friend,

We cannot believe it's April, mostly due to the wintry mix that lingers on, but it's spring in Montana!

Our Legislative Team is busily preparing to prevent more negative bills from passing during the last month of Montana's legislative session. The Science Team is getting ready for Citizen Science programs, which start at the beginning of May. Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) is preparing for bird surveys at enrolled ranches, and Montana Audubon Center is thrilled to observe our returning migrating birds and the approaching start of summer camps and courses.

We are delighted to share that Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) is back up for consideration in the U.S. Senate. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

We hope everyone is getting outside to enjoy the occasional warm, sunny weather and the lovely migrating birds, and as always, thank you for supporting Montana Audubon!
Larry Berrin
Executive Director
Welcome Jessica!
We welcome Jessica Mills to Montana Audubon as the new Audubon Naturalist in the Schools (ANTS) & Private Programs Coordinator. Please feel free to reach out to Jessica to get to know her!
About Jessica

Jessica grew up in the deserts of Arizona and spent much of her youth volunteering at the Phoenix Zoo in their education programs. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology and went on to help run school programs at the Arizona Humane Society. Between visiting schools, running private programs, and taking care of animal ambassadors, she thrives in the environmental education sphere. She is an avid fan of reptiles and insects but is excited to expand her knowledge of Montana wildlife.

Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA)
We are delighted to share that the bipartisan Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) was formally reintroduced in the U.S. Senate in early April.

If passed, this act will:
  • Fund conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species in need of assistance by providing $1.4 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground efforts across the country
  • Provide Tribal nations $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land 
  • Ensure wildlife recovery efforts will be guided by the Congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need 
  • Accelerate the recovery of approximately 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act 
  • Include improvements to ensure funds are appropriately targeted to the areas of greatest need and facilitate additional investments in protecting at-risk plant species

Montana Audubon is proud to be leading the coalition in our state!
April Legislative Update
The 68th legislative session just passed its second major transmittal deadline, when all revenue bills or referendums must have passed the House of Origin. That means the money bills are flying, and things will be moving fast in the remaining weeks of the session.

Several major issues that affect our mission will be up for votes. We have been working on and following HB372 most closely, the legislature’s 4th introduction of a constitutional amendment to add the right to hunt, fish, and trap to our constitution. The bill would have voters decide (again) whether hunting, fishing, and trapping should become explicit constitutional rights. The kicker about HB372 is that...
This last month will be a rat race, but we are up to the challenge with your support and civic engagement!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Director of Policy & Science, Amy Seaman (, or Legislative & Conservation Ranching Assistant, Peter Dudley (
Citizen Science: Save These Dates!
Two great statewide citizen science projects take place across the state this spring, and we don’t want you to miss out!

Great Blue Heron citizen science surveys occur from May 1st - June 15th, and Audubon's Climate Watch runs from May 15th - June 15th.

Both projects will take you to beautiful locations across the state and have great resources for simple data collection.

Our partnership with the Montana Natural Heritage Program continues to help us deliver on our Great Blue Heron project. We even have a slick app that allows in-field data collection to run smoothly on any smartphone, adding to your enjoyment observing colonies, or rookeries, where herons are found, rather than wrestling with paper data.

The data is so important! Findings from the nationwide Breeding Bird Survey indicate that populations of Great Blue Heron have declined every year from 1966 to 2015. Several factors may be to blame, including the loss of riparian cottonwood stands, increased urban sprawl, human disturbance, and changing waterway conditions. Due to these changes, herons commonly abandon their nests and move to better locations, often to more remote and undisturbed areas, making population monitoring difficult.

That’s where you come in. If you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist or have any questions, please email Amy Seaman at or visit our Citizen Science webpage.

Learn more about Climate Watch and sign up to receive email alerts HERE.
Audubon Conservation Ranching Field Season
It’s time for us to trade in our suits for work boots. The Conservation Ranching team is ready to hit the ground running for another field season of grassland bird surveys. In just a few years of ACR programming in Montana, we’ve enrolled over 110,000 acres with the help of a dozen ranchers around the state. Each ranch has committed to using management practices that benefit the land, soil health, biodiversity, and wildlife. With grassland birds threatened by habitat loss and climate change, this effort is critical to the long-term viability of Montana’s cherished grassland species.

This year marks our third field season and the completion of our baseline surveys for the program's inaugural ranches! ACR protocol prescribes three years of initial surveys to develop a “baseline” of bird data, followed by a survey every other year. The ACR program relies on robust data from each ranch to determine current populations of grassland birds and management practices that will improve their habitats. Our crew will soon be travelling around the state to complete point-count surveys on each enrolled ranch.

An important aspect of the ACR program is our ability to garner grants to implement projects that support bird habitats. These projects cover a wide range of beneficial practices including reseeding native plants, improving water infrastructure, reducing haying, and fencing projects that allow for more intensive regenerative grazing. Keep an eye out for more ACR content from the field!
It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like...
Spring at the Center
Harbingers of spring are starting to appear at Montana Audubon Center! Red-winged blackbirds are singing their “hung-a-ree” song as the Osprey who arrived over Easter weekend are busily building this year's nest. The next two months will be full of excitement and exploration as we observe seasonal changes to the landscape, enjoy warmer weather, and of course go canoeing!

This month we are also excited for our virtual spring lecture series with naturalist David Lukas, which will explore bird Biology topics like bird bones & skeletons, bird colors, bird songs, and bird nests! Just in time for our spring migrants' arrival!

Upcoming programs include: 
  • Evening Exploration: 1st Tuesday of the month, April-August, 4:30 pm-7:30 pm
  • Nature Nuts Preschool Program: Every Tuesday, 10 - 11 am
  • Weekend Wonders Family Program: 2nd Saturday of the month, 10:30am-12 pm 
  • Bird Stroll: 2nd Saturday of the month, 8:30 - 10 am 
  • Spring Lecture Series: Bird Biology with David Lukas: April 19th & April 26th, May 3rd & May 10th, 6 pm-7 pm

For more information on programs, visit our website.
Registration is Open!

Last day to register is May 25th.
June 9 - 11, 2023
Heritage Inn, Great Falls
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