Legislative Update: Bird Bills Making Progress

We’re back at the General Assembly, advocating for bipartisan policy solutions that protect birds and people.

The North Carolina legislative session is ramping up. On the heels of our successful Advocacy Day in March, we’re beginning to see movement on our priority issues for birds. Here’s the latest on where our bills and budget priorities stand this session. 

Growing the Market for Native Plants: From the longleaf pine to the flowering dogwood, North Carolina is home to more than 3,900 native plant species. Senate Bill 318, filed by Senator Bill Rabon in March, would ensure these native trees, shrubs and other vegetation are used for landscaping on state property.  

  • Native plants provide familiar food and shelter for birds, support pollinators, and beautify our communities. 
  • Native plants are specially adapted to grow and thrive in our state. They require less pesticides and fertilizers, saving time on maintenance. 
  • The bill will help grow new business opportunities and markets for local nurseries and other companies. 

We made significant progress on this bill in recent years, and are hoping to finish the job in 2023.  

Protecting Birds and Family Landowners: We’ve also moved the needle on an important bill that would protect family landowners and help them keep their family farms and wildlife habitat intact.  

In April, lawmakers filed the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (SB 548, HB 588). Audubon members have already helped by urging lawmakers to cosponsor the bill, and we’re hopeful that the long list of bipartisan supporters will help us make progress this session. 

  • The bill would provide important protections and due process for family farms, helping preserve their land and habitat. 
  • The bill also helps these families access federal conservation funding and disaster relief support. 
  • These family landowners, known as heirs property owners, are vulnerable to involuntary land loss. The problem disproportionately affects Black families, and is present in all 100 North Carolina counties. 
  • The bill passed the House in 2021 but didn’t get a hearing before the end of last year’s short legislative session. 

Sustaining Conservation Funding:  When we protect and restore habitat, natural areas, and clean air and water for birds, we ensure a better future for people too. That is why Audubon asks lawmakers to support and grow our state’s conservation trust funds every year.  

This year, we are asking for recurring funding to increase to $45 million for the Land and Water Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. 

The House has already passed a budget that includes a move in the right direction: it increases recurring funding for each by $6 million, bumping both to $30 million. Read our statement on the House budget here. 

We’ll continue advocating for conservation funding as the Senate, House, and Gov. Cooper negotiate a final budget. 

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