AUSTIN (May 3, 2023) — The Texas House of Representatives today approved House Bill 2239, which would prevent cities from regulating residential the removal of Ashe juniper trees. Ashe junipers, often misrepresented as a nuisance tree, are found throughout Central and North Texas and are the exclusive nesting habitat of the Golden-cheeked Warbler, a federally endangered native bird species.
“We have serious concerns about the impact of House Bill 2239 on the Golden-cheeked Warbler’s habitat, which has already been diminished throughout the bird’s migratory route and locally in Central Texas,” said Audubon Texas Vice President and Executive Director Lisa Gonzalez. “We know that where birds thrive, people thrive — and allowing the unrestricted removal of Ashe junipers could have a damaging ripple effect on our greater ecosystem. As the bill moves forward, Audubon Texas is committed to educating our elected leaders and advocating for the protection of endangered species and their habitats.”
The Warbler was designated a federally endangered species in 1990 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service due primarily to habitat loss. Baker Sanctuary — 715 acres owned and stewarded by Travis Audubon Society and a part of the larger Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system — is dedicated to safeguarding Ashe juniper-oak woodlands and providing breeding habitat for the Warbler.
“People have come to Baker Sanctuary from all over the world just to see the Golden-cheeked Warbler, and its breeding success depends on the availability of mature Ashe juniper bark for its nests,” said Travis Audubon Society Executive Director Nicole Netherton. “But this habitat isn’t nearly enough to sustain Warbler populations long-term. Restoring this native Texas bird population is going to require continued conservation efforts throughout the Warbler’s nesting habitat. Unfortunately, this bill could undo decades of community conservation work, and we want Texans 100 years from now to still be able to enjoy this beautiful species.”
House Bill 2239 will now go to the Senate for further consideration. More information on the Golden-cheeked Warbler can be found on the Audubon Texas website.
Audubon Texas is the state office of the National Audubon Society. The National Audubon
Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places
they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education,
and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon Texas's state programs, three nature centers in San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth, a South Texas sanctuary, and a network of 21 local chapters and numerous partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities for conservation action. Audubon's vision is a world in which people and wildlife thrive. For more information and to find your local chapter visit https://tx.audubon.org/. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Travis Audubon Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1952 by visionary Central Texans who recognized the vital connection between conserving wildlife habitat and the ecological balance necessary for healthy, sustainable, and habitable communities. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of native birds through inclusive environmental education, habitat protection, restoration, and management, and conservation advocacy. Travis Audubon owns and stewards three Central Texas sanctuaries, as well as a restored prairie in west Austin.
Dallas Kelley, Director of Public Affairs
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