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Audubon Society says preserving wetlands, clean energy key to saving Indiana's birds

The Audubon Society said preserving wetlands and moving to clean energy sources could be the key to saving Indiana’s birds. The group’s Great Lakes chapter met with state lawmakers on Monday to push for these solutions.

It’s estimated North America has lost more than three billion birds over the past 50 years — mostly due to climate change and habitat loss.

Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) said putting more wetlands into public trusts is the best way to resolve conflicts between conservation advocates, property owners and real estate developers like himself.

“Those habitats and the health of those birds are today what the canary used to be in the coal mine. If they are doing well, then we’re all doing well," he said.

Speedy also worked to pass a law last year that gives residents with homeowner’s associations better access to solar. He said solar is good for everyone — including the health of birds.

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Sam Whiteleather is with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and was on the state’s wetlands task force.

“If we’re going to advance conservation in our state, it cannot be just our conservation groups — just our friends, right? We have to have everyday citizens working with us on these things, we have to have business interests at the table, we have to have ag at that table. That’s critical," he said.

READ MORE: Wetland task force says state needs funding, legislation.

Whiteleather said people need to know that what they do on their property affects people and wildlife downstream. He said the state should put forth matching funds to access a federal program that would pay farmers to take some land out of production for conservation.

Whiteleather applauded Governor Eric Holcomb’s agenda to continue funding for new trails and acquire land for conservation.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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