Natural Resources Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy in Maine.
Kaitlyn Bernard Natural Resources Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. © Phoebe Parker

Our People

Kaitlyn Bernard

Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Maine

Maine

  • Areas of Expertise

    Policy, Land Conservation Funding, Federal Government

Biography

Kaitlyn is responsible for leading the Maine Chapter’s federal policy strategies and covering a range of state policy issues to advance land and water protection and sustainable fisheries. She works closely with TNC’s North American Policy and Government Relations teams to advance the organizations Federal policy priorities. Here in Maine, Kaitlyn brings TNC’s science-based approach to policy efforts to implement natural climate solutions, increase land conservation opportunities, and ensure sustainable natural resource management.

Prior to joining TNC, Kaitlyn served as the Maine Policy Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club. In that capacity, she focused on recreation and conservation issue in the Maine Legislature and coordinated state-based advocacy for the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Kaitlyn graduated from Colby College in 2013 with Honors in Environmental Policy. While at Colby, she interned for U.S. Senator Susan Collins in both her Caribou, Maine and Washington, DC offices.

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A New Session, a New Outlook: TNC Maine’s 2021 Policy Priorities

Kaitlyn Bernard and Rob Wood stand in front of the Maine State House on a snowy day.
Policy Pros Kaitlyn Bernard and Rob Wood represent TNC at the Maine State House. © Phoebe Parker

While much will look and feel different this year, policy work at The Nature Conservancy will continue to focus on our key issues and priorities. We are excited to work with the 130th Maine Legislature and the 117th Congress to build on continued momentum for conservation and climate policy.

Here in Maine, our policy priorities fall into three categories: conservation funding, Climate Council implementation, and healthy lands and waters. Our top legislative priority is securing bond funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program (LMF).

For over 30 years, the LMF program has been an effective tool in protecting some of Maine’s most spectacular places and supporting our natural resource economy. In that time, funding has supported the protection of a wide variety of Maine resources, including wildlife habitat, recreational trails, working waterfronts, working farmland, and public water access. The benefits of this program are celebrated by a wide majority of Mainers because of LMF’s public mission to provide access for all types of users—wildlife watchers, hunters and anglers, motorized and non-motorized recreationalists.

TNC is optimistic that the Maine Legislature will pass a robust LMF bond to infuse new money into the program and ensure its continued success. Current iterations of the bond bill on the table also include important additional funding for Maine’s State Parks, which saw record-breaking attendance in 2020. TNC is also supporting important bond proposals that would replenish funding for municipal stream crossing upgrade grants to improve fish passage and road safety, as well as provide funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

TNC staff and board members were deeply engaged in the Maine Climate Council process in 2020, which led to Maine’s new four-year Climate Action Plan. We are excited to see the recommendations from that thorough process begin to take shape as policy. We anticipate a package of legislation from the Mills Administration to implement initial steps recommended by the Climate Action Plan, including procurement of additional clean energy resources like solar energy. Governor Mills has already begun taking key actions, including issuing an Executive Order to create a Governor’s Maine Forest Carbon Task Force. TNC Maine Forest Program Director Mark Berry is a member, and TNC will actively participate in that conversation and reinforce the benefits of natural climate solutions, such as strategies to help woodlot owners adopt carbon-friendly management practices to increase carbon storage on their lands.

We will also work with partners to advance Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) legislation that stemmed from a clean energy investment report published in 2019 by TNC Maine, Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC). This bill passed the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee last year, but died when the Legislature adjourned.

In our Healthy Lands and Waters bucket, we will work with partners and state agencies to support and bolster existing programs. We expect to focus on improving siting criteria for renewable energy development and ensuring Maine’s Dam Safety Program has the resources and information it needs to operate in an ever-changing world.

At the Federal level, TNC Maine is eager to continue building relationships with our members of Congress and supporting their engagement in conservation and climate issue areas. We see huge opportunity to work with the new Biden Administration and Congress to advance policies to reduce emissions and increase low-impact clean energy development. Many of the policy ideas we have worked on in the past are being refreshed for introduction in Congress this year, and we will continue to aim for durable, bipartisan policy solutions.

TNC is also monitoring ongoing discussions around COVID-19 federal relief opportunities. We know that conservation, climate resiliency, and renewable energy can reap huge benefits in an economic recovery plan. Aside from the stimulus, we will continue to engage in the Federal budgeting cycle to safeguard conservation programs and science funding.

With all of the changes and adjustments we’ve seen over the past year, we remain optimistic and excited about opportunities to advance durable policy solutions in Maine and Congress. The TNC Maine Government Relations team will keep you posted as our work progresses throughout 2021.

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Rivers","description":"New England’s waterways—the most heavily dammed in the United States—are making a comeback.","link":"https://www.nature.org/en-us/magazine/magazine-articles/unleashing-rivers/","target":"_self","desktopImageCrop":"left-top","mobileImageCrop":"left-top","pageImageAlt":"A small waterfall near an old red mill building.","articleDate":"Nov 30, 2016","articleAuthor":["Jenny Rogers"],"contentTypeTag":"Magazine Feature","geoLocationTag":["Connecticut","United States","Massachusetts","New Hampshire","Maine"],"topicTag":["rivers","water conservation","conservation 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