The Newsletter of the Massachusetts Land Conservation Community
January 19, 2023, Volume 21, Number 1
Photo credit: Pete Westover
Communal Effort Protects 78 Private Acres
When Barbara Walvoord and her wife Sharon Grace moved to Easthampton's Lathrop Community senior living facility in 2014, they were impressed with the forests, streams, meadows, and vernal pools around the campus. Realizing how important this property was, they helped establish a Land Conservation Committee with other volunteer residents. In part due to their passion and their diligence in learning it, the land they came to love has been permanently conserved through the communal effort of Lathrop Community's residents, and cooperation with management, the board, public officials, and Kestrel Land Trust in a shared commitment to conservation. This project is an example of what’s known as "mitigation" conservation, in which developers are required by the city or town to conserve land in compensation for land that they disturb or build on. The 78-acre matrix of woods, meadows, and streams on the 175-acre campus was permanently protected in spring 2022 with a Conservation Restriction (CR) held by Kestrel. The newly-conserved private land on the campus includes 20 acres of fields federally classified as prime farmland, and farmland of statewide importance. Bassett Brook crosses the area, which includes several acres of wetlands and multiple certified vernal pools. It also supports the local aquifer that provides drinking water for the wider community, and protects valuable wildlife corridors and habitat. Please note that this conserved land is private and not open for public use.
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A sunny weekend in January was perfect for exploring Concord River Greenway Park, created through a partnership of the City of Lowell and Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust. #OurMassLandTrusts
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Celebrate the Public Lands Preservation Act
Monday, January 23, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Massachusetts State House, State Library, Room 341
Rep. Ruth B. Balser, Senator Jamie Eldridge and the PLPA Coalition invite you to celebrate the successful passage of the Public Lands Preservation Act. Join legislative and coalition leaders, and meet incoming EOEEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper. MLTC’s Executive Director Robb Johnson is among those who will speak. RSVP here.
ECCN / MLTC Gathering - Winter 2023, Western MA
Ski/Snowshoe in a Boreal Forest and Climate Adaptation Presentation
Friday, February 10, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Notchview Reservation, Windsor, MA
Maximum of 20 participants.
Calling all members of the MLTC community! Join host Early Conservation Career Network for an afternoon / evening networking event while enjoying the rolling terrain and groomed trails of Notchview Reservation. Cost: $10. (The cost of ski and snowshoe rentals and lessons is being generously covered by The Trustees.) Some financial assistance is available. Details and to register.
Save the Dates! 2023 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference
Saturday, March 25, in person at Worcester Technical High School and Friday, April 28, field trips around the state. Featuring 26 workshops, a keynote panel on synergies between housing and conservation interests, and eight field trips taking place across the state. Registration coming soon!
Huge thanks to the generous sponsors who have joined us so far!
Conservation Easement Integrity Act Signed into Law
On December 29th, after years of hard work by the Land Trust Alliance and conservation advocates, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act was signed into law. Effective immediately, the law imposes new rules to put an end to abusive tax deduction claims that have proliferated in recent years. For those who own land with important natural, agricultural or historic resources, donating a conservation easement can be a practical way to save the land they love while realizing significant federal tax savings under the enhanced federal tax incentive for conservation easements. Unfortunately, over the past decade bad actors sought to game this tax incentive in pursuit of quick — and often staggering — profits. For perspective, approximately 2,000 to 2,500 conservation donations are made across the U.S. each year for truly charitable purposes, resulting in about $1 billion in claimed deductions annually. Meanwhile, between 2016 and 2018, the IRS found $22 billion in unwarranted tax deductions claimed on fewer than 300 abusive syndicated transactions. The Land Trust Alliance has issued a helpful advisory summarizing key elements of the law, including a time-limited "cure" provision allowing taxpayers to amend easements by adopting IRS safe harbor language addressing extinguishment and boundary line adjustment provisions only.
Resilient Lands Vision and Healthy Soils Plan Released
Thanks to outgoing EEA Secretary Beth Card and her team for releasing a Resilient Lands Initiative Vision and Strategy for Massachusetts in the final hours of Governor Baker’s term in office. Special thanks to MLTC Conservation Advisory Council member Bob O'Connor for his leadership in developing this vision over the past few years, and to many MLTC members who served on the project's Steering Committee. We're pleased that the final report’s goals closely align with goals defined in Governor Maura Healey’s own Climate Plan – especially those focused on Natural and Working Lands. We look forward to working with the new Administration to move this vision forward. EEA also released the long-pending Healthy Soils Action Plan, which also reflects input from many of stakeholders.
Healy Names Key Cabinet Members
Governor Healey has named two women to top environmental positions: Rebecca Tepper as Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and Melissa Hoffer as Climate Chief, a new cabinet-level position. Hoffer will oversee a new Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience, which will centralize policy-making on climate issues, create climate policy proposals, monitor compliance with existing climate legislation, coordinate applications for federal climate funding, and develop public information campaigns to promote climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Healy has also ordered all of her other Cabinet Secretaries to name a Secretariat Climate Officer responsible for managing climate directives.
Solar Siting Guidelines Reflect New BioMap
Effective January 1, 2023, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources will review land use eligibility for solar projects under the SMART incentive program using the updated version of Biomap adopted by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on December 1, 2022. The updated SMART Site Evaluation Tool is expected to be available mid-January 2023.
Remembering Steve Kulik
We are sad to share that retired State Representative Stephen Kulik, who represented 19 small and rural communities in Hampshire and Franklin counties from 1993 – 2019, passed away on December 18th at his home in Worthington. Among his many accomplishments, Steve founded the Legislative Rural Caucus, and led many successful initiatives in the areas of agriculture, food security, community development, and rural policy. He co-led the creation of Massachusetts' Conservation Land Tax Credit, and championed many key bills related to farmland protection and food system sustainability. He remained very active after his retirement, including as a board member of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and Trustee of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. His guiding wisdom, advocacy, and kind sincerity will be greatly missed.
Open Letter to Governor Healy
We applaud the leaders of three MLTC members – the Massachusetts chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the Trustees of Reservations – for publishing an open letter to Governor Healey in Commonwealth Magazine in late December. You can read it here. The letter focuses on the power of nature-based solutions – including conservation of forest, farms and wetlands – to help the Commonwealth respond to climate change.
Northern Long-Eared Bat Listed as Endangered
Effective January 30, 2023, the northern long-eared bat will be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listed as threatened in 2015, the bat now faces extinction due to impacts of white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting hibernating bats across North America. Given that the bat is mapped as potentially present in much of Massachusetts, this could have significant implications on numerous projects that involve tree removal, prescribed burns, or use of percussive equipment. Previously approved projects with tree clearing that will extend beyond January 30th will need to re-initiate consultation with USFWS.
2022 Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment Released
This report is the result of a statewide process to understand how climate change affects people, environments, and infrastructure in Massachusetts. It evaluates 37 climate impacts across five sectors (Human, Infrastructure, Natural Environment, Governance, and Economy); identifies top impacts for each sector; and provides a regional assessment of how some impacts may differ across the state. It will directly inform the 2023 update of the State Hazard Mitigation & Climate Adaptation Plan (SHMCAP).
Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2050 Released
This plan provides details on actions the Commonwealth will undertake to put Massachusetts on a path to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Housatonic River wins Wild and Scenic River Designation
The Housatonic Wild and Scenic River Act of 2022 Act unlocks federal resources to protect 41 miles of the Housatonic in Connecticut, from the Massachusetts border downstream to Milford. The Act includes reauthorization of the Highlands Conservation Act, which extends protections and provides $10 million for conservation in a 3.5 million-acre region straddling Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Women on the Land: Forest Management in the Face of Climate Change
Thursday, January 19, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
This webinar will cover the effects of climate change and invasive species on our forests, and what forest management strategies landowners can use to fight these effects. Register.
Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Webinar Series
Wednesday, January 25, 10:00 a.m. – noon
Heat Waves in a Changed Climate: Planning For and Addressing Heat Islands. Learn more and register.
Wednesday, February 1, 10:00 a.m. – 11: 00 a.m.
Findings of the 2022 MA Climate Change Assessment.
Learn more and register.
Farm Succession Planning Webinar Series
Wednesdays January 18, 25, February 1, 8, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
In this free webinar series, transitioning farmers and new generation farmers will learn the basics of farm succession planning, how to get started, and where to find support. Resources, tips, financial and legal considerations, and more will be provided. Family members, farm partners, unrelated successors, and all generations are encouraged to attend together. Learn more and register.
Protecting Your Legacy: Moving from Planning to Action
Six Wednesdays, January 18 – March 29, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
This free webinar series will help landowners decide the future of their land and take steps to formalize a plan to achieve their personal and financial goals. Sign up for individual webinars or the whole series. Broad topics include Deciding Your Land's Future, Reducing Your Property Taxes and Stewarding Your Land, and Choosing a Conservation Tool. Learn more, view past recordings, and register.
2023 Invasive Insect Webinar Series
Wednesdays January 25 & February 8 and 22, 9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
This free webinar series, supported by two UMass Extension programs, focuses on the impact, monitoring, and management of invasive insects in Massachusetts and the nation. Learn more and register.
Adapting to Change: Navigating a Leadership Transition
Four Wednesdays: January 25 – February 8, plus March 8
For staffed organizations: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
For all volunteer organizations: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Cost per connection: $95 for Land Trust Alliance members, $125 for non-members.
This Land Trust Alliance series will explore ways organizations can strategically and adaptively navigate both planned and emergency staff or board leadership succession. It includes three 90-minute interactive training sessions and one facilitated wrap-up discussion. Sessions will be recorded. Details and register.
What’s New with RAINE?
Wednesday, January 25, 11:00 a.m. - noon
Explore updates to the EPA Resilience and Adaptation in New England mapping tool. Learn more and register.
Forest Carbon Program Training for Foresters
The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), a program of the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, offers forest owners in Western Massachusetts resources and payments to manage land with climate-friendly sustainable practices. Two free online trainings help foresters learn more about program and become Approved Foresters or Participating Foresters. The trainings are hosted by the American Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Franklin Land Trust. Tuesday, February 7, noon – 3:00 p.m. and Wednesday, February 8, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Register.
Massachusetts Open Space Conference
Thursdays in February, noon – 1:30 pm
February 2 | Open Space and Recreation Plans, from Writing to Action
February 9 | Tips and Tools for Landowner Outreach
February 16 | Land Conservation & Restoration Initiatives for Climate Resiliency: An Exploration of Case Studies and Funding Sources
February 23 | BioMap: The Latest and Greatest
Learn more. Register.
2023 RISCC Symposium
Tuesday & Wednesday, February 14 & 15, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The Northeast Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network aims to reduce the compounding effects of invasive species and climate change by synthesizing relevant science, sharing the needs and knowledge of managers, building stronger scientist-manager communities, and conducting priority research. The network includes invasion scientists, climate scientists, natural resource managers, policymakers, and stakeholders from the broader public. Read about past symposiums here to get an idea of what to expect.
Update on the Spotted Lanternfly
Wednesday, February 15, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Learn about current control efforts of the spotted lanternfly, and how you can help. Free continuing education credits are available. Learn more and register.
Save the Dates! Various MACC Events
Annual Environmental Conference 2023 (virtual) – Workshops on Tuesday, February 28, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, March 1, 2, and 4, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, March 7, 8, and 9. Annual Meeting – Saturday, March 4. Plus a Fundamentals for Conservation Commissioners Extravaganza throughout February and March (dates to be determined). MACC website.
LTA's Ninth Symposium on Advanced Legal Topics in Land Conservation
Thursday & Friday, June 8 & 9
Registration for this online event opens in April. Experts will cover the latest conservation law developments, and offer practical solutions by identifying strategies for purchased easement and land transactions with public partners, right of privacy in stewardship, timber trespass enforcement, ethical and practice considerations for inside and outside counsel, strategies for adaptation and changing circumstances, and offer a deep dive into recent precedent setting cases. Ideal for attorneys, senior conservation practitioners, and law school faculty. Stay informed on the latest conservation law developments and practical solutions. Learn more.
In Person Events and Outings
Celebrate the Public Lands Preservation Act
Monday, January 23, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
At the Massachusetts State House, State Library, Room 341
For details and to RSVP, see above under MLTC News and Programs.
Farm Succession School for Senior Farmers
Thursdays January 26, March 2, March 3, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Fiske Public Library, 110 Randall Road, Wrentham, MA
This curriculum is designed to help farmers think through the many aspects of succession planning, clarify vision and goals, get next steps on paper, and review necessary documents to provide for a smooth transition. Sessions include ample time to share and learn from other farmers facing similar questions. There will be homework and assistance available between sessions. Farmers do not need to have an identified successor to participate. Learn more and register.
Birds Across New England: The Audubon Regional Conservation Symposium
Saturday, January 28, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium, Bristol, RI
This symposium will provide information about what is being done to save birds, and obstacles standing in the way. Scientists from throughout New England will share research in an easy-to-understand manner. Concurrent sessions will cover topics concerning saltmarsh and coastal bird species, eastern forest health, bird tracking technologies, and large-scale demographic projects. Limited to 80 people. $75. Learn more and register.
Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference
Saturday, February 4, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Waterford, CT (in person with limited virtual participation)
The Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference is a first-time regional event designed to educate and empower the agricultural community. Through workshops and presentations, farmer attendees will learn how to better advocate for themselves, and service provider attendees will learn how to identify potential distress risks within the community. Together, attendees will learn how to build a network sharing skills and resources. Learn more.
ECCN / MLTC Gathering – Winter 2023, Western MA
Ski/Snowshoe in a Boreal Forest and Climate Adaptation Presentation
Friday, February 10, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Notchview Reservation, Windsor, MA
For details and to register, see above under MLTC News and Programs.
Save the Date! 2023 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference
Saturday, March 25, in person at Worcester Technical High School and Friday, April 28, field trips around the state. See more under MLTC News and Programs.
Keystone Project Training for Forest Owners and Local Leaders
Thursday – Sunday, April 13 – 16, Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA
Application deadline: Tuesday, February 28
The Keystone Project educates forest owners and local leaders who have a significant impact on their communities. Keystone Cooperators can own forestland, be involved in the care and stewardship of a property, or be an active community leader. They make a conservation difference at the local level by transferring information and ideas to landowners and decision makers. This intensive three-day retreat will focus on forest ecology and stewardship, wildlife management, and land protection. Learn more. Apply.
Save the Date! Watershed Scale Climate Collaboration Conference
Wednesday, May 3 at Clark University, Worcester, MA
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network.
Expression of Interest (EOI) for FY24 MVP Action Grants
Deadline: Friday, January 20 (to receive feedback on the EOI); Friday, February 3 (for limited feedback)
Though completing an EOI form for an MVP Action Grant project idea is not mandatory to submit an application for the MVP grant (tentatively available March 2023), it is strongly encouraged. Note that submitting an EOI does not guarantee that a project will be funded. About $20 million will be available to fund FY24 Action Grants, which provide financial assistance to municipalities seeking to undertake priority climate adaptation actions to address climate change impacts resulting from extreme weather, sea level rise, inland and coastal flooding, severe heat, and other climate impacts. More info and EOI form.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grants
Application deadline: Monday, January 23, 3:00 p.m.
LWCF grants provide financial assistance to municipalities and the state's Departments of Conservation and Recreation and Fish and Game for the acquisition of parkland, development of a new park, renovation of an existing park, development of trails in an existing conservation or recreation area, or the acquisition of conservation land. Grants up to $1,000,000 are available. Learn more and apply here.
Landscape Partnership Grants
Info sessions: Thursday, January 26, 2:00 p.m. in person at MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough, MA; and online via Microsoft Teams on Monday, January 30, 10:00 a.m.
Application deadline: Monday, April 17, 3:00 p.m.
Landscape Partnership Grants provide financial assistance for the protection of large blocks of conservation lands that promote ecological integrity and connectivity as well as promote local farm and forest economies. Funding for park or playground development is also available to towns of less than 7,000 residents. Applications must be submitted jointly by partners representing a minimum of two eligible categories of applicant, and must achieve protection for the minimum contiguous acreage identified in the bid document. Note the FY23 grant program includes a change to the minimum contiguous acreage required of eligible projects; minimum acreage ranges from 100-500 acres, depending upon the county in which the project is located. Advance registration required for both info sessions. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Conservation Partnership Grants
Application deadline: Wednesday, February 1, 3:00 p.m.
Conservation Partnership Grants assist nonprofit organizations in acquiring conservation land in fee or via a conservation restriction, as well as assistance with due diligence costs associated with gifts. Questions? Contact Melissa Cryan at email@example.com. Learn more and apply. Sponsored by the MA Division of Conservation Services (DCS).
Federal Highway Administration National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grants
Application deadline: Monday, February 6
This grant provides funding for culvert projects that improve or restore habitat access for sea run (anadromous) fish species. Municipalities, states, and tribes are eligible to apply. Because of its focus on improving habitat for specific fish stocks, interested applicants should review the program details carefully to evaluate whether their project fits. Learn more and apply.
Dam and Seawall Grant Programs
Application deadline for both: Friday, February 17
ENV 24 DS 01 covers funding to complete planning, designs, and permitting to repair or remove dams, levees, seawalls, and other forms of inland and coastal flood control.
ENV 24 DS 02 is a construction grant program to repair or remove dams, seawalls and other coastal infrastructure, and levees.
Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Small Grants
Application deadline: Wednesday, March 1
These grants, funded through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell Lab), facilitate high priority, bird-focused conservation projects for lands trusts. The aim is to build capacity for land trusts to meet their own goals, and to achieve strategic bird conservation on private lands. Learn more and apply.
Drinking Water Supply Protection Grants
Application deadline: Friday, March 10, 3:00 p.m.
The Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program provides financial assistance for the purchase of land in existing Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)-approved drinking water supply protection areas, or land in estimated protection areas of identified and planned future water supply wells or reservoirs. Learn more. Apply.
Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) Grants
Application deadline: Friday, March 17
Administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), the MPPF is a state-funded 50% matching grant reimbursement program to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites listed in the State Register of Historic Places. Applicants must be a municipality or nonprofit organization. It's highly recommended to attend an info session prior to applying. Learn more and apply (dates of info sessions are included on that page).
Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Grants
Info webinar: Tuesday, January 24, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Application deadline: Monday, April 10, 11:59 p.m.
These grants support community-based nonprofits to collaborate with other stakeholders (e.g., local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, academia, etc.) to develop solutions that significantly address environmental or public health issue(s) in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms. Learn more and apply.
Environmental Justice Government-to-Government Grants
Info webinar: Thursday, January 26, 2:20 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Application deadline: Monday, April 10, 11:59 p.m.
These grants provide funding at the state, local, territorial, and tribal level to support government activities that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms. Learn more and apply.
MVP 2.0 Pilot Program
This program will provide communities with guaranteed upfront funding to: include a more diverse array of community members in climate resilience planning and action; receive virtual training on climate resilience best practices, equity, and environmental justice; reset priorities in their current MVP plans based on this new knowledge and engagement; and receive technical assistance and guaranteed funding to develop and implement an action project. Any community that has gone through the original MVP planning process is eligible to apply. Applications are expected to be released in April 2023. To discuss interest in the program, contact your MVP Regional Coordinator.
Conservation Assistance for Small Communities Grant Program
Application deadline: Friday, May 5
This grant provides funding for towns with 7,000 people or fewer for the preparation of real property appraisals, Open Space & Recreation Plans (OSRPs), and other planning in support of land conservation and recreation. Learn more and apply.
Hammond Climate Solutions Solar Moonshot Program
The Solar Moonshot Program helps nonprofit organizations across the United States afford the switch to clean energy. Grants up to $25,000 are typically awarded, with amounts dependent upon various factors, including the organization's need for funding. Priority is given to solar projects that have additional funding sources and community support. Learn more and apply on the Hammond Climate Solutions website. Several Massachusetts projects have been funded.
Resources and Opportunities
Get Funded for Nature Based Solutions
Confused about all the different federal grant programs? Check out the database the National Wildlife Federation has compiled of grant programs that fund nature based solutions and green infrastructure. It also includes a glossary that defines jargon and common grant terms.
Professional Certificate in Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) Piloting
Enroll for spring classes by Wednesday, January 25. Classes start Monday, February 6.
This 9-credit, 4-course certificate program offered by @UMassAmherst and the UMass Mt Ida campuses teaches the safe piloting of UAS. Learn aerial photography, mission planning, and data processing to support conservation-related work. Certificate enrollment is ongoing, or students can enroll in one-off courses. Learn more.
New Booklet: Restoring Old-Growth Characteristics in New England’s and New York’s Forests
This recent publication by UMass and UVM explores how landowners can speed up the restoration of old-growth forest characteristics by using active forest management to recreate them, and cut the time to reach this stage in half.
One-on-One Farm Succession Advising
Land for Good's field agents offer one-on-one advising to help New England farmers start, continue or complete their farm succession plan. Low or no-cost assistance is available. Costs vary depending on needs and available funding, with a sliding scale option. Complete the Farm Succession Form or call 603-357-1600 to initiate a no-cost informational session.
Guide for Board Members of Charitable Organizations
This recently updated guide by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office offers a concise summary of responsibilities of boards and officers of charities.
Enjoy the Ice Safely: Tips and Classes from MassWildlife
Ice fishing is a great way to get the family outdoors in the winter and explore new areas without a boat. Learn about ice fishing and register for classes.
Food System Resilience: A Planning Guide for Local Governments
This new resource from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future aims to help local governments build food system resilience and promote equitable and just food systems.
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