From the President’s Office

President’s Blog

May 17, 2017: Get out there!

Doug Bechtel birding on the Silk Farm Sanctuary grounds.

This week, I have been getting ready for NH Audubon’s annual Birdathon-Bloomathon fundraiser. During lunch and before work, I have been scouting the favorite birding locations around Concord—my Birdathon geography this year. Like much of New Hampshire, Concord is blessed with diverse conservation lands, woodland trails, and forest, river shore, and wetland habitat. The Merrimack River is also a well-traveled migratory route supporting a plethora of waterfowl and other species as they travel to northern breeding areas.

After almost a full year as president of NH Audubon, most of which I have spent learning the incredible diversity and history of our storied organization, I set a goal for myself, to get out more—to spend more time out of the office, birding! Yes, I also have an obligation to be the face of Audubon, which requires I appear at events, at the statehouse, meeting with partners and donors, and introducing myself and NH Audubon to new audiences. But whenever spring is in full bloom, my physiology shifts, especially when I hear an old migratory friend singing in the woods or outside my windows. My favorite is Hermit Thrush. The first time I hear that clear whistle and warbly song, my heart leaps and I know warmer weather is on the way.

This morning, I saw or heard about 30 species in one hour before work. The warblers and other songsters are back, and the morning chorus is deafening. Perfect timing for Saturday’s Birdathon-Bloomathon! Wherever you are, get outside and experience your local habitats and enjoy the returning melodies of spring.

Get out more–you will be glad you did. I hope to see you out there!

January 27, 2017: A CALL TO ACTION

NH Audubon Opposes Nomination of Pruitt to Lead EPA

After careful consideration, the New Hampshire Audubon Board of Trustees has unanimously agreed to publicly oppose the nomination of Scott Pruitt as the next Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A vote on Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation could happen at any time. Join NH Audubon, today, in sending a message to Washington that Mr. Pruitt is the wrong choice to lead the EPA.

The agency was founded by President Richard Nixon in 1970 to protect human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. For nearly five decades the EPA has been responsible for setting and monitoring standards for air pollution, water pollution, hazardous wastes, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.

As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt fought against well-established regulations that protect clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. His record and public statements clearly indicate that he has little regard either for science or for the mission of the EPA. These values and actions are antithetical to NH Audubon’s mission to protect our natural environment for wildlife and for people.

We made this decision for two critical reasons. First, as a science-based organization focused on protecting birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, we recognize that climate change is a primary global threat to their persistence. Mr. Pruitt has frequently and consistently made statements and taken actions that indicate he does not believe in this threat.

Climate change also threatens New Hampshire’s most critical economic interests. As winters warm, our recreational economies such as skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are affected by reduced snow and ice cover. Our rural economies, such as maple sugar production, forestry, and agriculture are also threatened by changing seasonal patterns and reduced pollinator populations. The science is clear:  our natural environment and our local economies are threatened by climate change.

Second, our State needs clean water and clean air to support our wildlife, our families, and our economic base.  The EPA has taken science-based steps to address multiple threats to public health and environmental integrity.  We believe that Mr. Pruitt’s attacks on environmental regulations, including those that would limit climate change, should disqualify him from assuming leadership of the EPA.

This is an unprecedented action for NH Audubon, and the decision has not been made lightly. Never before has this organization opposed, much less publically opposed, a Presidential appointment. However, we believe that this nomination is unprecedented in the degree to which Mr. Pruitt is unsuitable for the position.

We urge our members and supporters to join us in immediately contacting Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan to voice opposition to Mr. Pruitt’s nomination to lead the US EPA.

Email link to contact Senator Maggie Hassan

Email link to contact Senator Jeanne Shaheen

November 30, 2016

Dear Friends,

On Columbus Day, I hiked up Mount Kearsarge in Warner to see the spectacular fall colors.  The mountain was packed with families and friends, all walking at different paces.  As I watched the leaves fall, I remembered that nothing is static; my shiny new title and role as NH Audubon President is already seasoning and I am edging closer to my first 100 days.  It’s time for me to share some reflections on my vision for our future together, and where my attentions will focus in the coming years ahead.

Nature has value.  We all recognize this.  We are connected to nature, and each other, because of shared values.  We share something that has connected us to nature, whether it is birds, or hunting, or fishing, or hiking.  Whatever your story, it is likely that your time in nature is enriched by sharing that experience with other people.  These shared experiences, these connections to nature and to people are so wonderfully tied together in our mission:  Protecting New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people.

New Hampshire’s residents deserve a strong NH Audubon because as a statewide independent organization we are unique in what we offer, and how we achieve success. I want to make sure that as we do our work for birds and other wildlife, we all remember that our strength and purpose are for people.  It is because of people like you that we can do our important work.  Our shared values are the reason our volunteers donated over 21,000 hours of service to NH Audubon last year. That’s nearly 12 years of volunteer time in one year!!  That is astounding, and wonderful.

Tudor Richards wrote in 1964 that NH Audubon was getting more media coverage on TV and radio.  He wrote about field trips to his beloved Pondicherry Wildlife Sanctuary.  He reflected on how birds were our best indicators of environmental health.  He was concerned about rapid habitat loss and conversion.  He wrote that “the next 50 years are going to be the hardest, but let’s all face up to this.”  His words were, of course, prescient.

NH Audubon’s work is as critical now as it was 53 years ago.  Who else in New Hampshire is as uniquely qualified to influence state and federal policy supported by wildlife and environmental science?  Who else runs state-wide environmental education programs every week informed by the best wildlife and environmental science?  Who else has a network of lands that offer the platform for monitoring changes in our wildlife and our environment?

It is in this spirit that I will work to unify our programs and facilities and chapters under the banner of One NH Audubon.  Our diversity is our strength, but we must be unified by clear priorities so that we are all moving in the same direction—like the diversity of hikers on Mount Kearsarge all walking up to the top of the mountain.  By working hard to enrich our relationships with partners and supporters in every region in New Hampshire, I believe we can grow our programs, our impact, and ultimately, our organization.  This will take time, but I believe it is the most valuable investment of my time, to ensure NH Audubon’s important work touches every New Hampshire resident.

We are One NH Audubon.  United, we will be the most influential and effective statewide environmental non-profit in New Hampshire, again.  Our Centers will be well-known and attractive destinations for people planning their trips.  Raptors will remain a priority of our work because they are a focus of our education programs and important ecological indicators of the environmental health of our world.  School teachers around the state will look to NH Audubon for resources to help meet STEM or Core Curriculum goals.  NH Audubon will be the primary source of environmental and wildlife information for legislators and citizens.  And visitors will enjoy and return to our Sanctuaries, because they had fun with their families in a healthy and safe environment.

In the coming year, I will be spending more time meeting with supporters like you to make sure we are meeting your expectations.  I will be working on improving our organizational governance and management.  We must expand our board, and I will make sure that is front and center in my mind as we grow.  I will make sure our priorities and strategies are more focused and realistic as we strive for financial strength.  And, of course, I will do everything I can to build on our excellent programs and environmental influence.

Frankly, I’m the luckiest person in New Hampshire.  I come to NH Audubon at a time when we are ready to grow our impact.  Please let me know your thoughts.  A few weeks shy of 100 days, I am testing this vision with you, our most trusted and loyal supporters.  I need your help to achieve One NH Audubon; to grow our network of people; to re-emerge as New Hampshire’s preeminent statewide environmental leader.

Thanks for being there!  I am undaunted by the challenge and excited to write our future together as One NH Audubon.

Sincerely,

Doug

Douglas A. Bechtel

President

June 28, 2016

The Monday morning sun is already blazing, and outside my new office window NH Audubon is buzzing with activity. Perhaps this is a hold-over from Sunday’s Pollinator Party when the McLane Center was literally abuzz. I attended the party with my daughter Myrica and we went home with a moth crown, plants and seeds for butterflies and hummingbirds, a native bee house, and a much deeper appreciation of our insect world.

Myrica, Doug's daughter, holds a Cecropia moth caterpillar at the Pollinator Party

Myrica, Doug’s daughter, holds a Cecropia moth caterpillar at the Pollinator Party

Now I hear the buzzing of our summer campers enjoying the first day of camp. I see kids zooming around our native grassland trail, parents dropping off kids, and new camp staff directing families. Kids and colors are flying, like the moths and butterflies behind them in the tall grass.

There is great energy here at New Hampshire Audubon. I am six days into my new tenure, working my way through one-on-one meetings with the staff. Speaking with each of them, I feel the deep commitment, optimism, and excitement for our work and mission. Camp is starting, our ecologists are out in the field, the new trail kiosk is up, and it’s SUMMER – a great time to be out in Nature!

There is another major impression I have from my first week that truly warmed my heart. I met nearly as many NH Audubon volunteers as staff, and ALL of them were smiling, happy, and excited to be here. Our network of volunteers, and the hours they put in to make our work a success, represents the best spirit of what we do. So, I want to send out a special thank you to all of our volunteers – you helped make my first impression a great one!

Newly elected President, Doug Bechtel

Newly elected President, Doug Bechtel

NH Audubon Elects New President, Brings Doug Bechtel Back to New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Audubon Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the election of Douglas A. Bechtel as its President to succeed Michael J. Bartlett.

“We are very pleased to have Doug’s long experience in conservation leadership, knowledge of land and water conservation, non-profit staff management and his financial acumen,” says Board Chair David Ries, adding that the new President is scheduled to begin on June 20.

Bechtel is a seasoned environmental professional and no stranger to the NH conservation landscape…

Full Details

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NH Audubon President, Mike Bartlett, Announces Well Earned Retirement

New Hampshire Audubon’s President, Mike Bartlett, has announced his retirement from the statewide conservation organization. He has served in this role since late 2008, when he agreed to come out of retirement and give up the helm of his fishing boat to help steer the organization. This spring he will try retiring again as he turns the wheel over to a new president.

Bartlett has provided nearly eight years of successful leadership, which included guiding the organization out of a period of severe financial challenge, through its successful centennial year celebration and to the point of receiving the highest rating of four stars from Charity Navigator (a national non-profit evaluator).

David Ries, chair of the New Hampshire Audubon trustees commented recently, “We have been so lucky to have Mike leading the organization. He brought a breadth of knowledge and experience in conservation science as well as consummate organizational and financial management skills. His optimism and dedication to the staff brought about wonderful stability.”

Bartlett’s determination helped to reestablish New Hampshire Audubon as a strong voice for conservation, a respected partner at the table and a leader in educating the public about the importance of protecting wildlife and its habitat. “During my many years working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, I held the work of New Hampshire Audubon in high regard. To be able to help strengthen the organization and bring it into its second century has been a real honor,” said Bartlett.

Today New Hampshire Audubon has much to celebrate. Under Bartlett’s unwavering and thoughtful leadership, biologists have helped restore nesting Bald Eagles to record numbers. Educators have provided children, families and adults with live animal encounters and outdoor experiences that are often transformative. Land stewardship has continued on over 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat through New Hampshire Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. Donors can contribute with confidence that their gifts will be put to good work fulfilling the organization’s mission.

New Hampshire Audubon will be celebrating the accomplishments of Mike Bartlett throughout next spring. Visit www.nhaudubon.org for updates and details.

New Hampshire Audubon trustees have formed a transition task force and contracted with a search firm to provide a smooth succession to the next president.

 

About New Hampshire Audubon

Founded in 1914, New Hampshire Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. New Hampshire Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.