What's New


Good News About the Environmental Budget!
April 27, 2011

Special Budget Update   

From The Environmental League of Massachusetts                     April 27, 2011

Today the House took up amendments to the House Ways and Means environmental budget that increased funding by a total of $3.9 million dollars. 

Increases to the House Ways and Means budget included:

  • $1.4 million for the main DEP account
  • $700,000 for DCR state and urban parks
  • Restoration of the line-item for the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program at $150,000
  • $60,000 for the Division of Ecological Restoration
  • $275,000 for recycling (had been zeroed out in HW&M's budget)
  • Inclusion of specific language to ensure that the Toxics Use Reduction Institute receives its share of funding
  • $300,000 for the Dept. of Agricultural Resources for its "buy local" programs
  • $527,000 for DCR's Office of Water Resources (includes a large earmark).
  • $500,000 for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife account within the Dept. of Fish and Game

Also included was language that directs DFG to detail a plan for a long term funding solution to dam repairs and maintenance including the feasibility of a revolving loan program and utilization of seaport bonds and directs DCR to develop a plan for long term funding solution for repairs and maintenance of seawalls.

While in the case of DEP and DCR these increases do not get us to the levels included in the Governor's budget, they are now a good starting point for our fight in the Senate. It's not too early to contact your state Senator and urge him or her to support increased funding for our environmental agencies.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee will release its budget in mid-May.

We want to thank our champions-Vice-Chair of HW&M, Rep. Steve Kulik, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee Anne Gobi, Rep. Frank Smizik, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, Rep. Cleon Turner, Rep. Jay Kaufman, and Rep. Paul Donato.   Please take a moment to thank these Representatives who made the case to their colleagues about the importance of our environmental agencies and programs.

Also, thanks to everyone who made calls or contacted their House members during past week.  We heard from many House members that they were hearing from constituents.  Your efforts helped!

On to the Senate-stay tuned.

America's Great Outdoors Report Released
February 1, 2011

President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative to develop a 21st Century conservation and recreation agenda. The report was published in February of 2011.

 

View the report.

MLTC Steering Committee Meeting June 10th
January 6, 2011

The Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition meets quarterly to discuss issues of interest to the land conservation community. These meetings are open to all.

A typical meeting may include:

  • Presentation on a topic of general interest or critical import to the community
  • Status of any current legislative initiatives
  • Update on state conservation agency information
  • Discussion and vote by supporting members on any pending Coalition business 

The Coalition welcomes suggestions for topics of interest or discussion.

 

The next Steering Committee meeting is Friday, September 9th.

Victory! House passes Off-Highway Vehicle Bill!
June 2, 2010


  ACTION ALERT!

 
Victory! House Passes Off-Highway Vehicle Bill!

In early June the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed priority legislation addressing long-standing environmental and child safety concerns regarding Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs), which includes all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes. The bill passed the Senate earlier this year. The House and Senate versions are slightly different, and the bills may either go to conference committee for reconciliation before being signed into law or the Senate may accept the House version, sending it to Governor Patrick's desk for his signature. 

With over 300 miles of illegal, environmentally destructive OHV trails on Department of Fish and Game lands, over 80% of Department of Conservation and Recreation park managers reporting illegal OHV use on their properties, and similar complaints from the hunting and fishing community, land trusts, parks groups, water supply land managers, municipal officials, and utilities, this much-needed bill will give law enforcement officers the tools they need to curb illegal, dangerous, and destructive OHV use.

The bill reflects many of the Department of Conservation and Recreation OHV Working Group Recommendations, in which the Mass Land Trust Coalition, Mass Audubon and many others participated.

The bill:

  • Expands law enforcement capacity to provide consistent and effective enforcement of OHV laws and regulations. Strengthens fines and penalties for OHV offenses, including trespassing.
  • Provides funding for enforcement through sharing of a portion of penalty revenue with municipal and state enforcement officials.
  • Requires registration for most OHVs.
  • Creates a revenue source for public OHV trail acquisition and maintenance, using a portion of registration and penalty revenues. Having safe, well maintained trails paired with strengthened fines for illegal use should encourage riders to stay in appropriate areas and not on sensitive conservation lands.
  • Prohibits children under 14 from riding OHVs unless in a race, rally, or event. Both nationally and in Massachusetts, OHV accidents causing death or serious injury to children have been on the rise, including recent local tragic deaths of young children and teenagers. Under existing law, children as young as 10 can ride on their own property. The child safety provisions of the bill were a major driver of the legislation, with parents and the medical community working closely with the legislature.
  • Strengthens communication among riders, land managers, conservation organizations, enforcement agencies and other stakeholders by establishing an OHV Advisory Group similar to those in other states. 

The new law will likely take effect in January. Check Mass Audubon's Weekly Roundup at  www.massaudubon.org/advocacy/beaconhill.php for mor information as the OHV legislation takes the final few steps to the Governor's desk. This has been a team effort across the conservation community and with the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Thank you for your support on this important issue!
 

June 12, 2010 


 

 

Bernie McHugh Honored by Mass Audubon
Mass Audubon
April 27, 2010

Bernie McHugh was honored as one of the "People Making a Difference" in Mass Audubon's Land Protection E-Newsletter, Land for People and Wildlife issue of April 27, 2010.

Read article