Category Archives: Land Management

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 4, 2019

The Value of Forests in a Changing Climate

Forests cover 60% of our state and play a crucial role in solving the climate crisis. Mass Audubon recently worked with other members of the Massachusetts Forest Forum to draft a statement about the need to prioritize forest conservation.

Climate Central

→ Amazon countries signed a forest pact to coordinate disaster response.
→ Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy gave some important advice to journalists covering climate change.
→ Can a wave of new technology slash natural gas leaks by detecting methane?

More Progress for Offshore Wind

The 804-megawatt Mayflower Wind proposal has been selected as the next offshore wind project to move forward in Massachusetts. When combined with the already-approved Vineyard Wind proposal, the two projects would meet the state’s current 1600-megawatt goal for offshore wind power.

Maintaining Protections for Coastal Ecosystems

Mass Audubon signed on to a letter with our partners opposing state legislation to exempt coastal resiliency projects from critical environmental protections. As currently written, the bill would negatively impact wetlands and other natural resources.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – October 21, 2019

Pledge to Help Green Transportation

In recent years, the transportation sector has surpassed power plants as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. Learn more about this shift and how you can help curb emissions.

Climate Central

Our climate change program manager participated in a Project Drawdown conference this weekend, an opportunity to share resources and strategies for creating climate solutions. Not familiar with Project Drawdown? Learn all about it here.

Supporting Rural Communities

Rural areas of Massachusetts can face different challenges than the rest of the state, from declining populations to limited fiscal resources. To help address these issues, a state Commission created the Rural Policy Plan, on which Mass Audubon provided input.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – September 30, 2019

Attorneys General Sue Over Endangered Species

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading a lawsuit over federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) rollbacks. The ESA is needed more than ever in the face of climate change and habitat loss, and as Mass Audubon notes in the press release, reducing its protections now would be a big mistake.

Climate Central

→ New IPCC report: oceans and ice are absorbing the brunt of climate change
→ Most teens are worried about future climate impacts

Speaking up on Solar Siting

The state is reviewing its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program, which provides financial incentives for solar energy projects. We submitted comments expressing strong support for solar energy, but recommending it be located away from ecologically- and socially-valuable land.

State Funding Awarded for Land Protection

The state has awarded $12.9 million in grants to protect land and natural resources, create and restore parks, and increase climate resilience. This funding will help communities conserve 1,191 acres of land.

Meet Our Team: Danica Warns

This month, our Shaping the Future of Your Community Program welcomed Danica Warns to the team as our new Southeast Regional Coordinator. She’ll be working with communities throughout the Taunton River Watershed to guide targeted land conservation and smart, sustainable development in that region.

Danica joins us from New York City, where she worked with NYC Parks to protect and restore wetlands throughout the City’s five boroughs, with a focus on volunteer stewardship of natural areas. While there, she engaged community members in wetland restoration and maintenance, aquatic wildlife monitoring, and migratory fish and oyster restoration. Working in the realm of land conservation in NYC, Danica has learned to identify and appreciate the pockets of natural areas that exist in a large city, and the importance of protecting these highly valuable resources.

Danica’s educational background is in coastal ecology, having received both her Bachelor’s in Marine Science and Master’s in Marine Conservation and Policy from Stony Brook University. She is also trained in science communication, and environmental outreach and advocacy have always been a focus of her career. She has previously worked with an environmental non-profit in Belize to communicate their research and monitoring work, on a whale watching boat in Cape Cod to monitor whale populations and educate passengers about marine conservation, and in an aquarium to inform visitors about marine life.

With a passion for finding nature’s hidden gems scattered across an overwhelmingly urban landscape, Danica’s mission is to introduce as many people as possible to the natural world around them and empower them to conserve and protect it. In her new role with Mass Audubon, she is most excited about the opportunity to help communities and land planners identify and protect local natural areas of importance and to continue to promote healthy coastal watershed management that benefits both people and nature.

Help Us Save CPA!

Update 8/5/2019: Great news – Governor Baker signed the FY20 budget last week, and it included these CPA funding increases. Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators and Governor Baker in support of CPA!

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) helps cities and towns preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. Since it went into effect in 2000, CPA has been adopted by 175 communities (50% of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns), and has helped preserve 29,289 acres of open space.

When a city or town votes to adopt CPA, they agree to add a small surcharge to local property taxes, which goes into a dedicated fund for these projects. In exchange, they receive matching funds from the Statewide CPA Trust Fund, which is generated from Registry of Deeds recording fees.  

© Community Preservation Coalition

As the number of CPA communities has increased, however, Trust Fund payouts to CPA communities have declined. Fortunately, we now have a chance to change that pattern.

The FY20 budget has been sent to Governor Baker’s desk for his final approval, and it includes a long-overdue increase to recording fees from $20 to $50 – a change that would provide the Trust Fund with an additional $36 million per year! The budget also includes a one-time transfer of $20 million to the Trust Fund from the state’s FY19 tax collection surplus.

Combined, these fixes would stabilize CPA and boost future matching funds for communities to use in local projects.

You can help make this happen! Our Community Preservation Coalition has launched a campaign to generate hundreds of phone calls to the Governor’s hotline, urging him to sign the bill. It only takes two minutes – please call today and let Governor Baker know it’s time to #SaveCPA!

Help Rally Support for Community Climate Funding

Last week was a big one for the future of climate change planning, when bills filed by Governor Baker and by Speaker DeLeo to fund community preparedness had their hearings at the State House.

The success of the state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program has made clear that Massachusetts cities and towns are eager to be proactive about planning for climate change impacts. Planning for these impacts also reduces the long-term costs of climate-related risks and protects property values. With 71% of Massachusetts municipalities enrolled in the program’s first three years, additional funding is now needed to help meet demand for planning and action grants.

Nature based solutions, like protecting floodplains and forests, are prioritized through MVP.

Governor Baker’s bill, An Act Providing for Climate Change Adaptation Infrastructure Investments in the Commonwealth (S.10), would:

  • Establish a new, sustainable source of revenue for cities and towns to fund resilient infrastructure and nature-based solutions to climate impacts
  • Build upon the MVP program to meet its increased demand
  • Increase the state’s deeds excise from $2.28 to $3.42 for every $500 of a property sale. This would allow approximately $137 million annually to be invested in climate change adaptation and resiliency projects throughout Massachusetts to protect public health, safety, and property
  • Deposit funds into a Global Warming Solutions Trust fund to provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to cities and towns for their priority adaptation projects
  • Allow funds to be spent across fiscal years, lending flexibility to support larger, more complex projects

Speaker DeLeo’s “Greenworks” bill (H.3846) would:

  • Establish a GreenWorks resiliency program for Massachusetts cities and towns, which would include grants for public infrastructure improvements, renewable energy production and storage, and MVP-related adaptation projects
  • Develop a matching grant program to support and provide technical assistance for cities and towns to develop municipal microgrid clean energy systems
  • Develop a grant programs to encourage electrification of vehicle fleets owned by municipalities or regional transit authorities
  • Establish a grant program to allow municipalities to hire sustainability coordinators
  • Establish a Green Resiliency Fund to provide loans to municipalities for resiliency improvements and investments
  • Provide this funding, which would total about $1.3 billion, through the sale of specially-designated bonds
Flooding following a storm this past winter. Photo credit: FEMA

Mass Audubon submitted testimony in support of each bill, both independently and with partners like our Climate Change Adaptation Coalition and the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance. You can also read testimony on S.10 from Governor Baker and EEA Secretary Theoharides.

You can help too!  

If your state representative or senator is a member of the Joint Committee on Revenue, contact them and urge them to report S.10 favorably out of committee, so it can continue its path toward being signed into law.

If they are a member of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, contact them and urge them to report H.3846 favorably out of committee.

Even if your legislator isn’t on either Committee, you can ask them to contact Committee members in favor of these bills. Let them know that as the impacts of climate change continue to become more severe, it’s crucial that Massachusetts cities and towns are as prepared as possible. These bills would help make sure that happens by setting aside steady income streams to fund community resiliency projects.

Celebrate National Pollinator Week

Today kicks off National Pollinator Week! Massachusetts is home to hundreds of pollinator species like bees, butterflies, beetles, and hummingbirds that are vital to fruit and vegetable crops and ecosystem health. Pollinators are threatened by pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss, and many species are in serious decline.

Photo credit: Zeynel Cebeci

The good news is, there are lots of ways you can help: 

  • Contact your state legislators in support of our priority pollinator bill, which would help protect more of their habitat here in Massachusetts.
  • Attend a pollinator program at Mass Audubon, or visit one of our wildlife sanctuaries with a pollinator garden to see their benefits firsthand.
  • Learn how to plant your own pollinator garden.
  • Donate to Mass Audubon to fund pollinator-friendly management practices on our lands, create more gardens with native plants, and teach others how to make their land more welcoming to pollinator species. 

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – June 17, 2019

Left image: USFWS

Celebrate Pollinator Week

Today kicks off National Pollinator Week! Massachusetts is home to hundreds of pollinator species vital to fruit and vegetable crops and ecosystem health. Many pollinator species are in serious decline, but there are lots of ways you can help.

Climate Central

A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager

  • Mass Audubon will be speaking at this event next week on transforming climate awareness into action
  • Two and a half years into the Trump Administration, no climate change regulatory rollback has yet survived legal challenge in court

Climate Funding Bills in the Spotlight

Bills filed by Governor Baker and Speaker DeLeo to fund climate change preparedness will have hearings at the State House this week. We’ll be providing testimony with partners, including our Climate Change Adaptation Coalition, in support of both bills. Look for our comments in next week’s Roundup.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – May 20, 2019

Action You Can Take This Week: Support a Strong State Budget

The Massachusetts Senate begins debate on their version of the state budget tomorrow, and you can help make sure they strengthen funding for the Community Preservation Trust Fund and Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum. Ask your Senator today to support amendments for CPA and for Trailside!

Trailside’s work includes the Snowy Owl Project. Photo credit: USFWS

Climate Central

A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager

  • This May, hundreds of valedictorians across the US will deliver the same commencement message on the need for climate action.
  • Boston makes the “A” list for cities leading the world on climate action!
  • The South Shore Climate Change Symposium, co-hosted by Mass Audubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary, was a successful day of idea sharing
State Representative Joan Meschino was a speaker at the South Shore Climate Change Symposium

Choosing Renewable Power for Boston

Incorporating renewable energy into local power choice programs helps communities take emission reductions into their own hands. We submitted comments on the City of Boston’s draft Community Choice Power Aggregation plan, urging them to adopt the strongest renewable component possible.

Speaking Up for Healthy Soils

We also submitted testimony with partners in support of legislation to promote healthy soils statewide. Soils are essential for life on earth, and policy makers have an important role to play in planning for their long-term health.

Drumlin Farm produce

The Plastic Problem

Mass Audubon weighed in on this recent Cape Cod Times article on our plastic pollution problem – a global issue that includes significant impacts along Massachusetts coasts.

Photo credit: NOAA

Next Steps Needed on Adaptation

We joined partners in supporting state legislation that would provide a needed framework – consistent, predictable policies and regulations – to support the progress Massachusetts has made so far on adaptation planning.

Coastal properties like these are vulnerable to sea level rise and storm damage. Photo credit: John Phelan

Meeting with Congressman Moulton

Last week, Mass Audubon and our environmental partners met with Congressman Seth Moulton and his staff at their Salem office. We discussed a wide range of issues, from chemical contamination of drinking water supplies at military sites, to regional marine fisheries issues.

We also focused on funding mechanisms for conservation, including the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, securing annual funding for which is one of our key federal priorities.

Congressman Moulton with Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon’s director of public policy & government relations

Our conversation emphasized the need for fact-based decision-making and bipartisan dialogue. We look forward to continuing this work with the Congressman as we advocate for federal policies that uphold and strengthen our environmental protections.

In addition to Mass Audubon, the other groups in attendance included Appalachian Mountain Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental League of Massachusetts, The Nature Conservancy, The Trustees, and Union of Concerned Scientists.