Environmental Bond Hearing on April 3rd

Dear Friends,

The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture has scheduled a hearing on the Environmental Bond Bill (H.4318) tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, 2018 from 10:00am - 5:00pm in hearing room A-1 & A-2 in the State House. More information on the event here.

It is important for legislators to hear from the land trust community! Please attend and testify in support of this bill. We want to urge passage of the Environmental Bond during this session and urge that all land agencies retain all  prior bond authorizations, as the carry-forward benefits all users without inflating the current bond.

This Open Space Bond Bill is entitled "An Act promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection...." We endorse the concept that land acquisition is a cost effective way of providing adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change realities, and that private land trusts are on the front lines of coastal, agricultural and flood plain acquisitions, working with state agencies (MassWildlife, CZM DEP & DCR) to identify and structure acquisitions for the greatest leverage of state bond moneys.

Some particular areas of the bond bill relevant to land conservation:

- Land Protection grant Programs (Conservation Partnership, Landscape Partnership)
- Community Investment Grant Programs (Gateway City Parks, LAND, PARC, Small Communities, Drinking Water Supply Protection)
- Climate change adaptation (nature based solutions)
- Greening the Gateway Cities (tree planting)
- Working Forest Preservation Restrictions

Land conservation funding includes funding for the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program which not everyone is familiar with, so below are some additional talking points for APR Program funding.  

- Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) bond authorization should be its own line item, rather than part of the one consolidated $30M land conservation spending line;

- APR bond authorization should be $10M - and Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) should be $5M;
- APR bond funds be able to be used APRs both in partnership with the federal Agricultural Lands Easement (ALE) Program and those without that partnership with the federal program.
- Land trusts play an important role in supporting agriculture across the state, from working on APRs to owning farmland for farmers to use, to providing education about and advocating for farming and food policy initiatives 

If you can't attend in person, please submit written testimony addressed to Senator Anne Gobi (anne.gobi@masenate.gov) and Representative Smitty Pignatelli (rep.smitty@mahouse.gov), Chairs , Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Environment. 

If you have any questions, you may contact Karen Heymann at Mass Audubon kheyman@massaudubon.org.

~ The MassLand Team