(April 20, 2021) More than 80 percent of land in Indiana is devoted to farms, forests and woodland. A bipartisan bill reintroduced today in the U.S. Senate recognizes the important role that farmers and foresters in Indiana, the Great Lakes region and beyond play as allies in the fight to ward off climate change.
“A rich agricultural area– Indiana’s farms, forests and working lands hold incredible potential to be a part of the climate solution and create a cleaner future for birds and people,” said Michelle Parker, Executive Director of Audubon Great Lakes. “It’s going to take all of us coming together to protect Indiana’s communities and wildlife. We’re encouraged by the leadership on this bill from both of Indiana’s U.S. Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young.”
The 2021 version of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) was reintroduced as a follow-up to a bill from last summer. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a program that will help famers and foresters adopt sustainable management practices like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation. In addition to improving the health of working lands, these practices serve as natural solutions to reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil.
The bill also addresses barriers for landowners to access emerging carbon markets, encouraging them to not only contribute to the national effort to reduce carbon emissions but tap into new revenue streams, which will help rural economies impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The updated bill also seeks to reduce barriers to entry for historically underserved, socially disadvantaged, and limited resource farmers, ranchers, and foresters.
“Rural Indiana is an amazing place to see a diverse abundance of wildlife and birds,” said Casey Jones, president of Tippecanoe Audubon Society. “This bill gives the farmers, foresters and landowners in my community the support they need to adopt practices that will address climate change, to protect climate threatened birds in our backyards like the Wood Thrush and Willow Flycatcher.”
Audubon’s recent climate report found that unless the rate of global temperature rise is slowed significantly, two-thirds of North American bird species are vulnerable to extinction, and the threats posed to the places that they need to survive have dangerous implications for people as well. Audubon’s study determined that emissions must not only be reduced, but that existing emissions should be balanced out by natural and technological practices that remove carbon from the air. This balance, known as “net-zero” can be achieved by 2050.
Audubon has previously supported state-level efforts to use natural climate solutions to reduce emissions in Texas and South Carolina and helped secure the passage of legislation in Washington state to use farms and fields to capture carbon. Healthy fields and forests are natural solutions to climate change, while providing vital bird habitat that also benefits rural communities. Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative offers certification for beef products that are raised on sustainable grasslands.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act is championed by a bipartisan group of senators including John Boozman (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Todd Young (R-IN).
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.
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