What's New


Dec 4th - Combat Communications Workshop
November 7, 2017


Combat Communications for Conservationists
When: December 4, 2017, 9:00am - 3:30pm
Where: Community Barn, Grafton, MA
RSVP to: kmcgrath@massland.org
Cost:  $25 (includes lunch and materials)


Ever been in a discussion that turns adversarial? Ever faced a hostile town meeting, select board or committee? Then this workshop is for you.

Sooner or later, the water will get hot and your reputation and success will be on the line. In this beginner-friendly workshop, you will tell your side of the story during heated debates around rate increases, land management decisions, policy changes, lawsuits, legislation, and emergencies.

  • Part 1. The Public and Their Opinion. You will explore who can be persuaded, who can't, and how to take charge of the debate.  
  • Part 2. Rules of the Game. Playing to Win. You will explore hot topics from the movers and shakers’ perspective. Then you will learn the dos and don’ts of the influence game for government and nonprofit employees.  
  • Part 3. The 5th Estate. Picking up where high school civics left off, you will discover the role that coalitions and associations play in influencing how “hot topics” turn out.
Mass Land Conservation Conference - March 24, 2018
November 2, 2017

SAVE THE DATE!

The 2018 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference will be held on March 24, 2018. This year's theme is "Leading Locally in a Changing World." This annual, day-long training and networking event provides land trust board members and staff, parks administrators and advocates, watershed organizations, trails and friends associations, municipal commission members and others interested in land conservation with the information, skills, and connections they need to be most effective.  We welcome your workshop proposals addressing land conservation topics in these categories:

- Leading Locally in a Changing World & Emerging Issues
- Land Management & Stewardship
- Land Protection Tools & Techniques
- Legal, Tax & Compliance Matters
- Organizational Management & Fundraising
- Urban & Community Conservation

Greatful thanks to the organizations who have been conference sponsors in the past.  If you would like to be a sponsor, get details here.

MA SJC Decision in Westfield Case Strengthens Protection of Conserved Land
October 13, 2017

On October 2, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court strengthened protection of conservation land in the case of Smith v. Westfield   (www.mass.gov/courts/docs/sjc/reporter-of-decisions/new-opinions/12243.pdf)

Background
In 1972, Massachusetts voters approved Article 97 to the Massachusetts Constitution, granting people the right to a clean environment and, among other things, creating protection for publicly held conservation lands by requiring a two-thirds vote of the state legislature before the sale or conversion of open space to other uses. A good description of Art. 97 is at www.mcgregorlegere.com/areas-of-practice/105-article-97.  Over the past  few years, the SJC has issued strong support for conservation (see Neff v. Hawley, affirming property tax exemption for conservation land), but had also issued two decisions (Mahajan and Hanson, described in the Westfield case) which significantly narrowed the lands to which Art. 97 applied.

The Decision
Westfield clearly broadens the lands to which Art. 97 applies, stating that “dedication” for the purpose of Article 97 may be accomplished by means other than a formal acquisition for that purpose or a recorded document.  The decision cites the litany of facts in Westfield (which may be summarized as a parcel of land named a park, used for many years as a park, shown on many public plans as a park and which had received state and federal open space funds) which indicate that the federal government, the state, the regional and city officials and the public all considered this property a park. But the Court appears to give primacy to the city’s acceptance of Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, which imposed a condition (accepted by the City) of future uses consistent with the open space uses intended by the grant.  The holding is “…A city or town dedicates land as a public park where there is a clear and unequivocal intent to dedicate the land permanently as a public park and where the public accepts such use by actually using the land as a public park”.

The conclusion is obviously good for conservation, but the case leaves open the “how much is needed for dedication” to sort of a “you know it when you see it” – being more than an incidental note in a large redevelopment plan (Mahajan) or an authorization at town meeting never acted upon by the Selectmen (Hanson), but less than an eminent domain action or formal recording of an expression of dedication. The SJC clearly intends this to be an important decision, as it expands beyond the narrow holding it could have made concerning Article 97 to include commentary about Higginson v. Boston (1948) and Lowell v. Boston (1912) ( Boston Common) invoking the “public dedication doctrine” (analogous to the “prior public use doctrine”), effectively imposing (without a recorded document) an easement for the benefit of all people (not only city residents), and explicitly recognizing the “healthful and civilizing influence of parks in and near congested areas of population” (citing Higginson).

It should be noted that, once again, the conservation community pulled together in preparation for the SJC argument, with Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, The Trustees of Reservations and Mass Audubon submitting an Amicus brief, as well as the Association to Preserve Cape Cod and the Conservation Law Foundation.

 

Read the MassLand, The Trustees and Mass Audubon brief here.

 

 

Land Trust Retreat
October 12, 2017

14thAnnual Land Trust – State Agency Rereat
Thursday, October 19th, and Friday, October 20th, 2017

Agenda here

MLTC Member & Steering Committee Meeting February 2018
August 20, 2017

Next meeting: February 2018, 10 am - 1 pm

Location: Community Barn, Grafton, MA
Agenda coming soon

Massachusetts Land Trusts, Coalition Members and Friends, All Massachusetts Land Trusts, MLTC Member organizations and Friends are encouraged to send a representative and participate in the Mass. Land Trust Coalition Steering Committee Meetings. All state and Federal agency personnel active in Massachusetts land protection are cordially invited, as well.

2017 Steering Committee meeting dates:
   
Friday, February 24, 2017
     Friday, May 12, 2017
     Friday, September 15, 2017
   

View Steering Committee meeting minutes:

  Sept 15, 2017 Minutes                  Sept legislative update here
                                                               Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership handout here
                                                               Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership presentation here
                                                               Letter to Committee Chairs on PILOT legislation here

                                               Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program – Guidance for Land Trusts here
                                               Testimony on Agriculture bills including HB 458 here
                                                               LTA Farm Bill Recommendations here

  May 12, 2017 Minutes                   May legislative update here

                                               UMass Land Protection Certificat proposal here
                                               Nature Can Rescue Our Climate presentation here
   Feb 24, 2017 Minutes                    PILOTS Powerpoint presentation here
              Guidance on IRS disallowing deduction for CRs with Amendment Clauses here
   Nov 18, 2016 Minutes           November legislative update here
   Sept 16, 2016 Minutes          September legislative update here
   May 13, 2016 Minutes
   Feb 26, 2016 Minutes                                            
February legislative update  here
   Nov 20, 2015 Minutes
   Sept 17, 2015 Minutes
   May 15, 2015 Minutes           
Handouts:  Economic Benefits    Superhero in our Midst
   February 27, 2015 Minutes                     
   November 21, 2014 Minutes           

   September 12, 2014 Minutes
   May 16, 2014 Minutes
   Feb 16, 2014 Minutes

 

Land Trust Regional Workshops
August 18, 2017

MLTC HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR LAND TRUSTS

Planning for the next round of regional workshops is underway. Plans include:

December, 2017 communications workshop
February 7, 2018 executive director's workshop

Previous Workshops and Materials

February 4, 2017 Southeastern Massachusetts Land Trust Convocation Plenary Speech by Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon, available here.
February 4, 2017 workshop, "Cracking the Communication Nut" w
orkshop handout here.

September 21, 2017 Stewardship workshop is co-hosted by Greenbelt.
Workshop Presentations:

Fundamentals of CR Stewardship
 

Workshop materials:

  1.  Monitoring Program Annual Planning Calendar

  2.  Sample Monitoring Practices

  3.  Sample Field Guide to Monitoring Conserved Lands

  4.  Sample Volunteer Steward Training Agenda

  5.  Sample Letter to Stewards

  6.  Sample Post Monitoring Landowner Letter

  7.  Sample Annual Monitoring Report Form

  8.  Sample BDR Outline

  9.  Sample BDR

  10. Obtaining Signatures for Older BDR’s

  11. Sample BDR Policy

  12. Easement Revitalization: A Problem Solving Guidebook for Land Trusts

 

For questions, contact info@massland.org.

 

Payment in Lieu of Taxes Legislation Proposed - Your Input Needed
August 18, 2017

Recently legislation has been proposed that would allow for the taxation of nonprofit owned land, or codify the process to require payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT).

MLTC joined Mass Audubon, The Trustees, and The Nature Conservancy in testifying against this proposed legislation. Read testimony here.

 

Your input is vital to help fight PILOT legislation. MLTC will organize a united defense against these proposed laws by gathering your responses and creating a more explicit picture of the benefits our land trust members provide.  

 

If you haven’t already done so, please help by taking the 8-minute survey here

MA requests SCORP input for LWCF grant program
August 17, 2017

SCORP surveys:  The National Park Service requires the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to complete a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan every five years to remain eligible for funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program.  Since the program was established in 1965, nearly $100,000,000 has been awarded to every county in the state for the acquisition of conservation or park land, development of new parks, or renovation of existing parks.

Three surveys are available – one for land trusts here, one for municipal employees here, and one for any and all users of open space in Massachusetts here.  It should take about 15 minutes to complete each survey.  It is critical for us to hear back from as many people as possible regarding conservation and recreation use and demand at your properties to guide how future LWCF funding could be spent most effectively in Massachusetts.

Any questions should be directed to Melissa Cryan, LWCF Stateside Coordinator, at 617-626-1171 or melissa.cryan@state.ma.us.

August is Tree Check Month
August 17, 2017

Did you know that this August has been officially recognized by the US Department of Agriculture as Tree Check Month? Insects like Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer currently threaten hardwood forests in Massachusetts, and Tree Check Month is the perfect time to check your trees for signs of damage. Take ten minutes of your time to find out how to spot signs of damage from these insects and to check your trees to ensure their health and survival!

More at the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Blog here.

MA FY2018 Budget Final
July 17, 2017

The Massachusetts Fiscal Year 2018 budget was signed by Governor Baker in July.

Unfortunately, the overall budget provides less funding for environmental agencies than the previous year, with funding at about half a penny on the dollar for critical programs. Governor Baker’s review of the budget decreased overall funding for the environment even further than the legislature had authorized.
Read a summary of what's included in the budget here.

Take Action for Our Public Lands by July 10th
June 19, 2017

Please comment to the Department of the Interior by July 10th.
Comment here.

The Trump administration recently ordered a review of national monuments, mounting an attack on the iconic public lands and waters that are critical to our nation’s economy and way of life. Sixteen presidents from both sides of the aisle have designated national monuments to protect places like the Grand Canyon and Bears Ears. The executive order puts the fate of these parks and monuments in the hands of the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.

Trump has made it clear that he wants to scale back or eliminate national monuments, taking land out of public hands to give to private corporations like fossil fuel companies.

This action will impact our monuments in our region: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Monument, off the coast of Cape Cod, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.

With your help, we can demonstrate the overwhelming public support for national monuments and resist the administration’s attack on our lands.

Please take action with us to protect our public lands!

Read a fact sheet produced by the Environmental League here.

Read a new analasys from the Center for American Progress that describes the scientific and ecological value of each of the 22 land-based monuments under review. Analysis and interactive here.
Sample tweets and press release here.

Read a letter from The Trustees to Secretary Zinke here

DCS Grant Round for FY 2018 is Open
February 14, 2017

DCS Grant Round for FY 2018 is Open
Application deadline is July 12, 2017 at 3 pm

 

Grants are available for LAND  (Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity), PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities) and Conservation Partnership Programs.  Find information on all DCS grants at: www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/grants-and-loans/dcs/grant-programs/

 

RSVP for a grant workshop to melissa.cryan@state.ma.us

May 17, 2017 at 11:00 am in Amherst
May 18, 2017 at 11:00 am in Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Mass Land Conservation Conference a Great Success!
February 12, 2017

Coming soon...
2018 Mass Land Conservation Conference

Leading Locally in a Changing World
Convened by the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition 
Saturday, March 24, 2018 - 8am – 4pm
Worcester Technical High School
One Skyline Drive, Worcester, MA

Workshop proposals due November 6, 2017 Submit a proposal here.

Sponsor the 2018 conference. Sponsor form available here.

 

****************************************************************************************

2017 Mass Land Conservation Conference
Scaling Up: Meeting New Challenges
Convened by the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition 
Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 8am – 4pm
Worcester Technical High School
One Skyline Drive, Worcester, MA

The conference was a great success with over 570 attendees! Our thanks to all who attended, and all who made it possible by presenting workshops, volunteering, sponsoring, and exhibiting.

A Conversation with E. O. Wilson - View the plenary here
MLTC is pleased to announce that Edward Osborne Wilson, usually cited as E. O. Wilson, an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author will be the Plenary speaker at our 2017 Mass Land Conservation Conference, scheduled for Saturday, March 25 at the Worcester Technical High School, Worcester, MA. Learn more about E. O. Wilson here

Subscribe to Conference Updates!

Conference Information:

Download:

        Brochure

PDF

        Workshop Schedule PDF
        Workshop Descriptions PDF
        Speaker Biographies PDF
        Conference Day Program PDF
        Workshop Materials Link
         Exhibitor List PDF
        Map of Worcester Tech High School PDF
        Raffle Prize Descriptions PDF

 

Sponsor the 2017 conference
Sponsor benefits are listed here. If you are interested in sponsoring this year's event, download the form here.

Exhibit at the conference
Details on exhibiting at the conference are here. If you are interested in exhibiting, complete this form. The 2016 exhibitors are found here.

Volunteer for the conference
We depend on the assistance of volunteers to make this conference a success! To volunteer for pre-conference, conference day, or post-conference activities, fill out the form here. Thank you!

Directions to Worcester Technical High School here

MA DFW Approves New Trails Policy
February 5, 2017

Dear MLTC Members,

We are writing to you to inform you of a new trails policy approved by the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife).  In response to increasing and unauthorized trail development and maintenance on their properties by various organizations and individuals, MassWillife has determined that only organizations they license may construct or maintain trails on their properties.  MassWildlife has established procedures for trail groups who wish to obtain a License Agreement for trail development or maintenance on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Access Areas.

The Walking Trails Policy arises directly from MassWildlife’s statutory obligation to protect habitat and provide access for wildlife-related recreation. In essence, it provides that only licensed trails shall be maintained on property owned by MassWildlife.

MassWildlife recognizes that, in certain situations, passage across their lands is desired to maintain the connectivity of existing major walking trails. In such cases, MassWildlife may license an outside group to mark, improve, and maintain a segment of an existing major walking trail crossing one of their WMAs or Access Areas, subject to the conditions underlined in the policy here. They are requesting that other trails cease to be actively maintained. The opportunity for public access is unaffected.

Conservation science has shown that trails often alter and fragment wildlife habitat and adversely affect the behavior of wildlife, including both terrestrial and aquatic species. MassWildlife Director Jack Buckley has stated that MassWildlife’s Walking Trails Policy is designed to address these issues, in keeping with its statutory mission of managing wildlife lands for wildlife and simultaneously accommodating public recreational access.

Outdoor recreational access to WMAs has not changed as a result of the Walking Trails Policy.  MassWildlife lands continue to be open to wildlife-related recreation (hunting, fishing, trapping, nature observation, and photography) and other outdoor activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. 

We understand that this could affect your land trust. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 

  

Mass Land Trust Coalition
info@massland.org
978-443-2233

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program
January 1, 2017

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has launched a new program, the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Grant ProgramThis is a great partnering opportunity for local watershed associations, land trusts, conservation commissions, and climate groupsIt offers municipalities expert consulting and funding to conduct a vulnerability assessment of their communities and prepare an adaptation plan for climate resilience. Through this program, municipalities will be better equipped to plan and prepare for climate change, and state government will gain a better understanding of the challenges communities face. State-certified MVP providers will deliver the program using a standardized toolkit for assessing vulnerability and developing strategies, and the best available statewide climate projections and data. Upon successful completion of the program, municipalities will be designated as a "Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program community," which may lead to increased standing in future funding opportunities. The application deadline is May 22, but applying is easy.
 

EEA is also encouraging regionalization among municipalities and your organizations are well-positioned to help craft a joint proposal from multiple communities.

Here's a sample email you could use with your municipal officials:

I am writing to encourage town X to apply for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program (Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs). MVP will provide direct funding and support to cities and towns to complete a community-driven process that will bring together climate change information and local knowledge to identify top hazards, current challenges, and strengths and then to develop priority actions to improve the municipality's resilience to all natural and climate-related hazards using a flexible, tested approach called Community Resilience Building. The program will provide access to a pool of state-certified MVP providers, a standardized toolkit for assessing vulnerability and developing strategies, and the best available statewide climate projections and data. Our local organization is ready to offer support and capacity to help our community with the application and the planning process.

The application deadline is May 22.

Take advantage of this great opportunity!