What's New


Agriculture Legislation on the Move
April 1, 2016

On May 5th, the Senate passed An Act promoting agriculture in the Commonwealth (SB2286) and several of the 30 provisions are of interest to land trusts, including changes to Chapter 61A which would allow noncontiguous parcels of a farm to be considered together; changes to the estate tax rules that would reduce estate tax rates on farms; provisions supporting community gardens on appropriate Department of Conservation and Recreation land; provisions supporting farmers markets; provisions allowing agricultural commissions to hold land and to prepare plans; a pollinator protection commission; and a Farmland Action Plan and Protection and Viability Advisory Commission.  The bill now goes to the House.   Many of the provisions in the legislation are also in the recently completed Massachusetts Food System Plan.

 

The Farmland Action Plan was also included in the House budget by amendment, and will be offered as an amendment to the upcoming Senate budget by Senator Anne Gobi.   Why a Farmland Action Plan? Lack of reliable statewide data around farmland trends prevents the development and tracking of meaningful targets around farmland retention, protection and access.  A formal state Farmland Action Plan would improve state data collection around farmland and establish formal farmland protection goals and benchmarks, providing a better roadmap for state investments in farmland protection in the future.  The Plan will: (1) determine the resources needed to improve state data collection around farmland trends; (2) establish a statewide baseline of land in active agricultural production, or the process for doing so with improved data collection, and a system for tracking acres of farmland in production over time; (3) set measurable goals and benchmarks related to farmland protection, retention and access; and (4) recommend state program spending levels to meet those goals and benchmarks.  The Plan would consider the regional land use plans that have been undertaken by various Regional Planning Agencies and Councils of Governments, and any available assessments, modelling or scenario planning that predicts future land use patterns, needs or threats. 

 

The Trustees of Reservations, American Farmland Trust, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau have been working to further the Plan.  For more information, contact The Trustees Director of Policy, Jen Ryan.

NED Pipeline Application Withdrawn Others Still Pending
March 30, 2016

On May 23, 2016, in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, J. Curtis Moffatt, deputy general counsel at the Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, notified the agency that the Northeast Direct pipeline application was being withdrawn. Read more here.
A number of land trusts and private landowners have been approached by representatives of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (“TGP”, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners) for permission to survey their land for the TGP Northeast Energy Direct project (NED)—a high-pressure natural gas pipeline planned to run from New York state through northern Massachusetts from Richmond to Dracut. There is great concern in the community that this pipeline is planned to traverse a number of environmentally sensitive areas including publicly and privately owned conservation land. The MLTC board has voted to “strongly oppose the use of any conservation land including conservation properties owned and/or managed by land trusts, municipalities, state and federal government entities for locating natural gas pipelines or infrastructure related thereto.” MLTL has drafted and sent a letter stating this position to Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan. The letter can be viewed here.

MLTC is a founding member of Northeast Energy Solutions. More informaiton at www.neenergysolutions.org

A website offering resources and information about the pipeline has been created. That website, www.MassPLAN.org (Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network), is hosted by the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Conservation Land Impacted by Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline June 2015

Presentations on Process

Participating in the FERC Process presentation by Jocelyn D'Ambrosio View here

Letters in Opposition

   Attorney General Maura Healey's Cover Letter to FERC on MA Pipeline Study here

   A number of land trusts affected by the pipeline have issued statements and letters. See letters here.

    Read Berkshire Natural Resources letter to Kinder Morgan here.

    Read Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust comments here.

    MA legislators issue joint statement on Northeast Energy Direct pipeline May 15, 2014. View here.

    Read a letter to the New England governors on the pipeline here.

    Read a letter to FERC from Northeast Energy Solutions here.

General Pipeline Information and Resources

    Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline presentation here.

    Northeast Energy Direct Pre-filing Application to FERC here.  Search for Docket # PF14-22

    MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs letter to FERC on the NED project here.

    MACC advice to Conservation Commissions here.

    Energy Price Fluctuations Information Sheet here.

    Jobs Created in Massachusetts by Clean Energy Industry here.

    Harvard Law Clinic Presentation on Protected Land, MA Laws and Eminent Domain here.

 

MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program
June 28, 2015

Grant Information Session:

When: Nov 3, 2015  |   7 pm
Where: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters
1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program (MHMGP) is designed to provide financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of protected lands to support active habitat management while fostering partnerships to encourage landscape scale habitat management and expand public recreation on conserved lands.

  For more details click here.

Land Trust - Agency Retreat Successful - view materials
March 5, 2015

Save the Date!

The 13th Annual Land Trust - State Agency Retreat
Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA
Thursday, April 30, 9am - 5pm (dinner to follow)
Friday, May 1, 8:30am - noon

Our thanks to all who attended the 13th Annual Land Trust - State Agency Retreat at Harvard Forest in Petersham. We had a great turnout, and engaged in some lively and important discussions. 

Many thanks to those who gave presentations at this year's retreat. To see the list of presentations, the agenda is available here

Many presentations are available online:

  Next Phase of Land Conservation:
      -Connecting habitat into network for changing climate (Andy Finton, The Nature Conservancy)
      -Neighborhood park systems in Gateway Cities (Brad Buscher, Groundwork Lawrence)
      -Connecting open space for outdoor recreation legacy (Gary Briere, River's Edge Cycling)
      -Vision of farm conservation future (Cris Coffin, American Farmland Trust)

  Restoration and Conservation Working Together
      -Farm and cranberry bog restoration (Bob Wilber, Mass Audubon)
      -Cape Cod "undevelopment" (Mark Robinson, The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts)
      -Montague "undevelopment" (Rich Hubbard, Franklin Land Trust)
      -Flow restoration projects (Tim Purington, Div of Environmental Restoration)

  Stewardship Innovations at TTOR (Tom O'Shea, The Trustees of Reservations)

2015 Mass Land Conservation Conference Materials
February 27, 2015

Plenary Speakers

    Congressman James P. McGovern
    MA Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton

   All Speakers Biographies
 

# Workshop Download Materials
1A

Young Guns Discuss the Future of Land Conservation in Massachusetts

- Mark Robinson, The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts;

  Jessica Whritenour, Falmouth Land Trust; Mike Leavitt,

  Berkshire Natural Resources Council; Sara Wells,

  Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust

1A-Montage
1B

Farmland Access & Transfer: Opportunities for Land Trusts

- Kathryn Ruhf, Land for Good; Darci Shofield, Trust for Public Land

 
1C

Managing Habitat Restoration & Visitor Impacts at Weir Hill
- Russell Hopping, The Trustees of Reservations;

  Joel Carlson, Northeast Forest & Fire Management;

  Kate Sullivan, Northeast Forest & Fire Management

 
1D Future Forests: Climate Change & Forest Restoration
- Colin Novick, Greater Worcester Land Trust;
  Julie Richburg, The Trustees of Reservations
 1D-Presentation
1E

Land Conservation 101: Where Do I Start?

- Charlie Wyman, Mass Audubon;
  Jennifer Ohop, Opacum Land Trust

1E-Handout
1F

Troubleshooting Land Negotiations

- Bob Wilber, Mass Audubon;

  Rob Warren, The Trustees of Reservations

 
1G

Amending CRs
- Jonathan Bockian, Law Office of Jonathan Bockian;

  David Santomenna, The Trustees of Reservations

1G-AmendingCRs

1G-Presentation

1G-Presentation2

1H

CRs not Approved by EEA- Perpetual & Enforceable?
- Deborah A. Eliason, Attorney; Irene DelBono, MA EEA

1H-Presentation

1H-Handouts

1i

Pipeline Strategies & Article 97 Lands

- Leigh Youngblood, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust;

  Arthur Bergeron, Mirick O'Connell; David J. Singer, Attorney

1i-Presentation
1i-Handouts
1J

Grants From Both Sides Now: Grant Makers & Grant Seekers Discuss

- Ellen Gugel, Grants & More; 

  Pamela B. Kane, Greater Worcester Community Foundation; 

  Katie White, Conservation Law Foundation;

  Bill Hinckley, MA Environmental Trust

1J-PresentationA

1J-PresentationB
 

1K

Xs, Ys, Boomers & Traditionalists: Engaging Four Generations of Volunteers

- Illene Roggensack, Third Sector Innovations

1K-Presentation

1K-Handout

1L

Exploring Health Benefits of Greening Urban Landscapes

- Katy Walker, Health Effects Institute;

  Peter James, Harvard School of Public Health;

  Wig Zamore, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership

1L-Presentation

1L-Handout

1M

Techniques for Engaging Urban Youth in Conservation & the Outdoors
- Samantha Lyon, Thompson Island Outward Bound; TBA

 
2A

Rebuild Local Food System & Conserve our Communities

- Jamie Pottern, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust;

  Cynthia Henshaw, East Quabbin Land Trust; 

  Cathy Wirth, The Trustees of Reservations

 

 

2B

Making Resiliency Relevant: Climate-Savvy Strategic Planning
- Sarah Wells, North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership;

  Chris Merritt, Sasaki Associates; Maggie Owens,

  MassLIFT AmeriCorps

 
2D

New Visions for Integration of Forest Management & Land Protection

- Robert Perschel, New England Forestry Foundation; Kathy Fallon

  Lambert, Harvard Forest; Lisa Vernegaard, Sudbury Valley Trustees

 
2E

Land Management, Stewardship & Outreach Using Web Mapping Technologies

- Jason Stanton, Montachusett Regional Planning Commission; 

  Angela Sirois-Pitel, The Nature Conservancy

2E-PresentationA

2E-PresentationB

2F

Plan for Resilience: Prioritization & Conservation Tools
- Andy Finton, The Nature Conservancy; Valerie Massard, Mass Audubon;

  Christa Collins, Sudbury Valley Trustees;

  Dan Stimson, Sudbury Valley Trustees

2F-PresentationA

2F-PresentationB

2G

EEA Partnerships & Funding Opportunities

- Melissa Cryan, MA EEA; Celia Riechel, MA EEA

2G-Presentation

2G-PresentationPDF

2H

Mock Trial of a CR Violation

- Elizabeth Wroblicka, Esq; William Constable, Lincoln Land Trust;

  Ray Lyons, Attorney; Rob Warren, The Trustees of Reservations;

  Sally Loomis, Hilltown Land Trust

2H-Handout
2i

The Nitty Gritty of CRs, Step by Step

- Irene DelBono, MA EEA

 
2J

Got Land? Creative Ways to Promote Properties & Engage Supporters

- Ryan Mann, Westport Land Trust; Mary Williamson, Essex County  

  Greenbelt

2J-Presentation
2K Conservation Leadership: A Small Group of Committed Citizens CAN Change the World
- Kathy Sferra, Stow Conservation
 
2L

Escaping the Four Walls: Urban Hiking & the East Side Trail- Outdoor Hike
- Colin Novick, Greater Worcester Land Trust; Gene Tivnan, Beals &

  Thomas

 
2M

Park Equity & the Role of Urban Greenways

- Brad Buschur, Groundwork Lawrence; Nina Brown, Brown,

  Richardson & Rowe

 
3B

Personal Stories: How & Why We Do Conservation

- Leslie Luchonok, Environmental/ Community Consultant

3B-Handout
3C

Field Management: A Look at Managing Fields for Wildlife Habitat
- Laura Mattei, Sudbury Valley Trustees; Russ Hopping, The

  Trustees of Reservations; Amanda Weise, New England Wild

  Flower Society

 
3D

Using Ecological Integrity & Conductance to Prioritize Land for Conservation

- Scott Jackson, UMASS Amherst

3D-Presentation
3E

Understanding the Ch. 61 Programs & Their Role in Conservation
- Paul Catanzaro, UMASS Amherst; Jennifer Fish, MA EEA, 

  Department of Conservation & Recreation

 
3F

Today's Topics in Conservation Law

- Moderator: Buzz Constable, Lincoln Land Conservation Trust

  Panelists: Irene DelBono, MA EEA; Kathy Orlando, Attorney; 

  Jonathan Bockian, Law Office of Jonathan Bockian; Brian Beaton,

  Bowditch & Dewey

3F-Handout
3G

2015 Property Tax Exemption Primer

- Ray Lyons, Attorney; Nikki McKoon, Mass Audubon

3G-Handouts(5)

3G-Presentation

3H

Analyzing your Fundraising Special Events: Cash Cow or Sinkhole?

- Illene Roggensack, Third Sector Innovations

3H-Handout
3i

88 Ways to Make Your Land Trust Stronger

- Kevin Case, Land Trust Alliance; Jen Ohop, Opacum Land Trust

 
3J

Planting Trees to Save Energy, Reduce Stormwater & Improve Neighborhoods

- Mat Cahill, MA EEA; Celia Riechel, MA EEA, Bob O'Connor, MA EEA

 
3K

Land Legacy & Key Sites Public Land Management and Stewardship

- Jonathan Regosin, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife; 

  Craig MacDonnell, MassWildlife

 

 

Maine Supreme Court Affirms Property Tax Exemption for Land Trust
August 7, 2014

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that land conservation is a charitable purpose under the Maine Property Tax Exemption statute.  The ruling settles a dispute between the Town of Limington and Francis Small Heritage Trust (FSHT) regarding the property tax exempt eligibility of FSHT's preserves.

This ruling adds to the body of precedent set by the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision in the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) v Town of Hawley case.

Read Maine decision here.

Deadline for Submitting CRs for Tax Purposes Oct 15th
Irene DelBono
August 1, 2014

 

Hello Everyone,

Once again it’s that time of year when I need to set a deadline for submission of CRs for income tax purposes so that I can manage the volume and ensure that everyone gets their CRs back in time. The deadline is October 15th. Read guidelines and tips.

 

Evironmental Bond Bill Signed by Governor Patrick
July 28, 2014

$2.2 Billion Environmental Bond Signed

Gov. Deval Patrick signed a $2.2 billion environmental bond bill Wednesday that supporters said is an investment for future generations. The four-year borrowing bill authorizes spending on environmental restoration, land conservation and urban agriculture. A tax incentive for land conservation would have its cap increased from $50,000 to $75,000 under the new law. The compromise bill provides funding for what officials have said would be a $65 million state contribution toward a $300 million project dredging Boston Harbor to allow larger ships to use terminals. New Bedford Harbor would also receive $35 million in state funding earmarked for a federal dredging project. Urban agriculture programs could see $8 million in funding and up to $111.2 million would be used to fund the cleanup and development of recreation areas in populous areas with limited access to parks. During a bill-signing ceremony at the State House, Patrick said he was proud to sign the legislation that would allow the state to have a “green future and a strong economy.” Sen. Marc Pacheco, co-chair of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, said the bill authorizing investments in environmental projects “will truly be an investment in the air that we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that we walk on that produces the food that we all consume here in this great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” The governor in his final term asked lawmakers to advance more than $20 billion in long-term borrowing bills and the proposals, while redrafted, were all shipped back to him to become laws.
- C. Quinn, State House News Service

View full text here

View land protection funding chart here

 

SJC Rules in Favor of New England Forestry Foundation
May 24, 2014

On May 15th, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued its decision in the New England Forestry Foundation vs. Town of Hawley case. It was a unanimous and clear-cut victory for continued property tax exemption for legitimate land trusts.

Read the SJC decision here

Read an annotated summary of the decision here
prepared by Mark Robinson, Mass Land Trust Coalition board member and Executive Director of the Compact  of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts.

Mass Land Trust Coalition and Land Trust Alliance Amicus Brief here

New EEA Land Report Released
April 21, 2014

The Patrick Administration’s unprecedented investment of $280 million in land conservation resulted in the permanent protection of 100,000 acres of land the creation of 150 new parks across the Commonwealth.  This report tells the story of how a grass roots effort of hundreds of people, land trusts and municipalities conserved parks and greenspaces that are within a ten-minute walk for nearly 1.5 million people or 23% of our residents. The Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs provided 1,200 grants to municipalities and land trusts and EEA’s agencies - DAR, DCR and DFG - completed hundreds of conservation acquisitions.

View Report

MLTC Spring Steering Committee Meeting - May 16
April 13, 2014

MLTC Steering Committee Spring Meeting
Friday, May 16, 2014 , 12:15 pm - 3 pm
Location - UMass Medical School, South Street, Shrewsbury

                   Directions here  

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.

View Steering Committee meeting minutes:
Feb 16, 2014 Minutes
May 16, 2014 Minutes

Materials from February Annual Meeting:
-View candidates elected to Board of Trustees for 2014 here
-View materials on the new Mass OHV Law here
-View letter on proposed pipeline here.
 

2014 Steering Committee meeting dates:

Friday, May 16, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014

 

Suggestion For Those Doing Spring Stewardship
March 1, 2014

A bonus for those hours pulling garlic mustard...

Handout and Recipe

with thanks to Amy Janovsky

Return on Investment in Parks & Open Space - Get report!
January 18, 2014

Yesterday, the MA conservation community held an event at the State House to announce the release of a report: “The Return on Investment in Parks and Open Space in Massachusetts” authored by the Trust for Public Land and funded by over 25 conservation NGOs.

Highlights from the report:

  • For every $1 invested in land conservation, $4 in natural goods and services is returned to the Massachusetts economy.
  • Visitors to Massachusetts spend an estimated $16.9 billion each year and generate $1.1 billion in state and local taxes. The total economic impact of this travel is $26.9 billion. Tourism supports nearly 125,000 jobs, which provides $3.63 billion in wages per year.
  • Outdoor recreation generates $10 billion in consumer spending, $739 million in state and local tax revenue, 90,000 jobs, and $3.5 billion in wages and salaries each year in the state.
  • Agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing, and related processing activity are responsible for $13 billion in output, and 147,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Over 100 attendees -- ranging from state elected officials to agency leaders to conservation organizations -- heard statewide leaders from business, environmental agencies, municipalities and land conservation organizations, including:

    Representative Anne Gobi, Chair, Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture
    Secretary Rick Sullivan, Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
    Mayor Lisa Wong, City of  Fitchburg
    Will Manzer, Board Member, Outdoor Industry Association
    Bob Perschel, Executive Director, New England Forestry Foundation

Links:

        Report Summary here
        Complete Report: here
        Photos of the event here

Also see:
        Sample Outreach Letter
        Press Release
        State House News Service article

The Commonwealth Conservation Council will be using this data and other compelling information to make a strong case for the Environmental Bond – a $911M piece of legislation that will provide capital funds for the next four years for land acquisition, aquatic restoration and air and water quality testing (among a myriad of programs).     

12th Annual Land Trust - Agency Retreat, Feb 2014
January 17, 2014

 

The 12th Annual Land Trust - State Agency Retreat was held:

    When:   Thursday, Feb 6, 2014   9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
                  Friday, Feb 7, 2014  8:30 AM - 12 noon
     Where: Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA
     Cost:    Free

Over 50 representatives from land trusts and state agencies attended this two-day event.
Final agenda available here.  
 

How to Communicate Effectively to Build Support for Conservation
March 18, 2013

This report contains recommendations for communicating effectively to build support for conservation, based on a representative national survey of American voters commissioned by The Nature Conservancy in 2012 and conducted by a bipartisan research team: Democratic polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

Download report here.

Also of interest is the paper, "What Public Opinion Research Tells Us About Conservation Communications" by the Steve Alexander Group, available here.