The Newsletter of the Massachusetts Land Conservation Community
February 23, 2023, Volume 21, Number 2
During the closing at Lazan, Glover and Puciloski, SLT attorneys. From left to right: SLT Executive Director, Land Protection Kathy Orlando; land donor Neil Chrisman; long-time SLT Board member Kerry Douglas (in back); land donor Kathy Chrisman; the Chrisman's attorney Harris Aaronson
40 Acres Donated for Farming and Habitat Protection
At the end of 2022, Neil and Kathy Chrisman donated over 40 acres of hayfield and forest off Barnum St., Sheffield, just north of the Connecticut border, to the Sheffield Land Trust. The land is part of the Schenob Brook Area of Critical Environmental Concern, with ecologically important uplands and wetlands. The agricultural fields were once used as a landing strip. The parcel also abuts The Nature Conservancy’s Schenob Brook Preserve. The Nature Conservancy holds conservation restrictions over most of the land. So why make the gift? The family wants to ensure that the land always remains available for a local farmer, and that the ecological management they have been diligent about – including extensive invasive species control – will continue for all future generations. Two acres next to a hedgerow along the road were excluded from the conservation restrictions in case a house, barn, or other structure is needed in the future to keep agriculture viable. The fields will continue to be hayed by Will and Amelia Conklin of Skyview Farm. Will is also the Executive Director of Greenagers. With the gift, the Chrismans hope to encourage others to conserve their land.
Consider supporting MLTC's efforts to inform, connect, and advocate for the Massachusetts land conservation community. Your monthly or one-time tax-deductible donation of any amount is appreciated. Thank you! Donate here.
In a low-snow winter, I was glad to find some in Lanesborough at Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s Constitution Hill reserve. #OurMassLandTrusts
Conservation and Housing in Collaboration: Opportunities and Challenges
Thursday, March 2, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. via Zoom
This informal "Stronger Together" networking discussion sponsored by MLTC provides an opportunity for staff and board members of Massachusetts conservation organizations to share experience and questions about how they are collaborating, or considering collaborating, on projects that address both conservation and housing affordability. Exchange ideas with peers on this timely topic, which will be a focus of the keynote and several workshops at the upcoming Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference on March 25. Facilitated by Robb Johnson, MLTC Executive Director. This discussion will not be recorded. Advance registration required here.
MLTC Steering Committee Meeting
Friday, March 10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. via Zoom
Land trust staff and board members, as well as conservation partners, are welcome to this quarterly meeting featuring relevant news from state agencies, a timely update on state and federal policy matters, announcements, and our featured topic: Updates on the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program from David Viale, Agricultural Lands Programs Supervisor at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. He'll share information on the upcoming three-year APR policy review, and address your questions, including some recent ones about horse-raising, agrivolatics, and cannabis on APR properties. Voting Members will have the opportunity to participate in annual elections for MLTC's Board of Trustees. Registration required here.
Register for the 2023 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference (MLCC)
Saturday, March 25, in person at Worcester Technical High School, with field trips around the state on Friday, April 28,. Featuring 25 sessions, a keynote panel on the synergies between housing and conservation interests, and eight field trips taking place across the state, the conference offers something for the beginner through to the advanced practitioner. Join us! Conference portal. Schedule. Register.
Pre-Conference Sponsor Talks March 14 – March 22
Even if you’re not attending the conference, you’re welcome to attend online presentations from our lead sponsors. This feature was very well attended in 2022. In short:
Tuesday, March 14 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. | Wildlands Trust's New Stewardship Training Center | Wildlands Trust. Free registration here.
Wednesday, March 15 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. | Family Forest Carbon Program | The Nature Conservancy. Free registration here.
Tuesday, March 21 | 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. | Help Design Mass Audubon's Conservation Assist Program: An Open Discussion and Conversation | Mass Audubon. Free registration here.
Wednesday, March 22 | 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. | 50 Years of CRs – Lessons Learned | The Trustees. Free registration here.
A huge Thank You to the generous sponsors who are supporting the conference!
EEA Launches New PLPA Website
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has created a new website with a wealth of information of importance to any community facing proposed diversion of public parks and conservation land to another use. It includes guidance for how to comply with An Act conserving open space in the Commonwealth (commonly referred to as the Public Lands Preservation Act, or 'PLPA'), which was signed into law in November 2022 and took effect on February 17. The PLPA Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions sections of the page provide important information on what has changed under the new law. When all the website's features are fully operational, it will greatly improve clarity and transparency related to proposed diversions. Many of you worked hard to pass the new law, and may be interested in a recording of the PLPA Celebration, coordinated by Representative Ruth Balser, Senator Jamie Eldridge, their staff, and others on January 23rd. It was a wonderful, heart-warming event, set in the beautiful State House Library.
Land Trust Alliance Advocacy Days
April 17 – 20 (Monday – Thursday), Washington, DC
The Alliance invites land trust staff, board members, and volunteers to join its annual advocacy event in Washington DC, where participants will hear remarks from key Capitol figures and have the opportunity to take part in meetings with their members of Congress to educate them about the concerns of the land trust community. The Alliance will provide a briefing and materials on key issues, and advocacy training for first-timers. For Alliance members, travel stipends are available to defray attendance costs. Learn more and register here.
Accessible Trails Discussion Part II: Building, Modification and Maintenance
Thursday, February 23, 5:00 p.m. – 6:35 p.m.
BNRC will host this online event by Professional trail builders Peter Jensen (Peter S. Jensen & Associates, LLC), Jedediah Talbot (OBP Trailworks, LLC), and Tyler Fogg (Berkshire Natural Resources Council), who will discuss the design and construction, modification, and maintenance for accessible trails. The intended audience is those already managing accessible trails or considering them for the future. Register. Watch the recording of Part I.
16th Annual Agriculture and Food Conference
Sunday, February 26, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
This virtual conference will include workshops for farmers, backyard gardeners, homesteaders, and local food supporters covering a wide range of topics, from urban agriculture and finding a unique market for products, to responsible, sustainable farming and using the whole animal. Keynote speaker will be Holyoke-based chef Neftalí Durán, who is also an advocate, organizer, and educator with a focus on building an equitable food system and indigenizing foodways. Learn more and register.
Accessible Trail Dialogue: We Want to Hear from You
Tuesday, February 28, 9:00 a.m. – noon
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is developing a toolkit to improve accessibility and inclusion on trails in central Massachusetts. Join this online discussion to let them know: What limits have you or others faced when trying to use trails? What makes accessing trails difficult? What encourages or enables trail usage? Register.
Building a Development Program from Scratch
Tuesday, February 28, 10:00 a.m. – noon
Participants will learn where to start, where to focus, and what role their board could play. Sponsored by Philanthropy Massachusetts. $30 members/$45 non-members. Learn more and register.
MAPC Accelerating Climate Resilience: Resilience Hubs
Tuesday, February 28, 11:00 a.m. – noon
Learn more about resilience hubs, including their co-benefits and connection to climate resilience planning. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Area Planning Council. Register.
Make Your Land Available for Farming
Wednesday, March 1, noon
Landowners will learn different methods for making their land available to a farmer. Hear from a special guest who will talk about her own experience. Farming and non-farming private landowners and their representatives (real estate agents, etc.) are welcome to attend. Hosted by the New England Farmland Collaborative. Learn more and register.
Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment: Applying Regional Findings
Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m.
Dive into the Massachusetts Climate Assessment’s regional results, and discuss top impacts and next steps for planning in regional break out groups. Register.
Conservationists of Color Call
Thursday, March 2, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
For BIPOC practitioners only, the national affinity group Conservationists of Color is hosting a lunchtime call. Complete this registration form link to receive an invite with call-in information.
Conservation and Housing in Collaboration: Opportunities and Challenges
Thursday, March 2, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
See details above, under MLTC News and Programs.
2023 Maine Land Conservation Conference
Virtual: Thursday, March 9 – Thursday, March 30 Learn more and register.
In-person: Wednesday, May 3 Learn more.
The March webinars will cover topics ranging from Land Protection Basics to Video Production to Beaver Management. Sessions will be recorded. The May event at the Samoset Resort will include speakers, small group discussion, plenty of networking time, and dinner.
Science Pub: The Invasive Southern Pine Beetle and Forest Management
Monday, March 13, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Science Pub, hosted by the Linda Loring Nature Foundation, connects people with real-world science and research. Guest speakers present their work in an informal and relaxed setting where questions and discussion are encouraged. Nicole Keleher, from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, will present on the status of the invasive Southern Pine Beetle in our region and recommendations for forest health. Register here. All registered participants will receive a recording of the presentation.
Land Trust Alliance Webinars
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 14 | Title Review: What Land Trusts Need to Know
Tuesday, March 21 | Orienting New Landowners to Their Easements
Thursday, March 23 | Managing the Transition from Acquisition to Stewardship
$70 each for Alliance members. See a preview of more upcoming webinars.
Conservation Finance Learning Lab
Tuesdays, March 14 and April 11
The last two sessions of this five-part series hosted by Highstead and The Conservation Finance Network feature panel discussions and case studies into tangible, innovative approaches to conservation funding and financing. Register for either or both sessions. Learn more, watch previous sessions, and register for upcoming sessions.
Protecting Your Legacy: Moving from Planning to Action
Wednesdays, March 22 & March 29, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The broad topic for these last two sessions of a 5-part series will be Choosing a Conservation Tool. The webinars 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 one or both. Learn more, view past recordings, and register.
2023 Rhode Island Land & Water Conservation Mini-Summit
Saturday, April 8, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., at the University of Rhode Island
This half-day mini-summit will feature keynote speaker Ian McSweeney of the Agrarian Trust, as well as a panel discussion on engaging and retaining volunteers, a marketplace and sponsor showcase, three break out sessions, and various networking opportunities. Learn more and register here.
LTA's Ninth Symposium on Advanced Legal Topics in Land Conservation
June 8 & 9 (Thursday & Friday)
Registration 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.
In Case You Missed It
View recordings of the 2023 Open Space Conference sessions here:
View Open Space and Recreation Plans, from Writing to Action
View Tips and Tools for Landowner Outreach
View Land Conservation & Restoration Initiatives for Climate Resiliency: An Exploration of Case Studies and Funding Sources
In Person Events and Outings
Keystone Project Training for Forest Owners and Local Leaders
Application deadline: Tuesday, February 28
April 13 – 16 (Thursday – Sunday), Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA
This intensive, three-day retreat-style training for landowners and community leaders will focus on forest ecology and stewardship, wildlife management, and land protection. The training consists of both indoor and field sessions, as well as informal time to learn from fellow participants. In addition, each participant is given substantial take-home resources. Learn more. Apply.
Lobby for the Rivers Day 2023
Wednesday, March 15, State House, Boston
Info / Training Sessions: Wednesday, March 8 or Monday, March 13. Register below.
Join this community effort to demonstrate to policymakers how much residents care about river protection. No lobbying experience is necessary. Mass Rivers will provide background on current environmental challenges and the legislative process during two virtual training opportunities so you can confidently talk with your local legislators and their staff. Register for training on Wednesday, March 8, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. or register for training on Monday, March 13, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Learn more about Lobby Day and register.
Annual Conference of the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC)
Saturday, March 18, 8:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Hogan Campus Center, Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA
CPTC is a collaboration of citizens, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that provides training to citizen and professional planners involved in municipal planning and land use in Massachusetts. All workshops focus on Massachusetts land use issues such as zoning, planning for solar, affordable housing, transportation, and more. Learn more and register.
2023 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference
Saturday, March 25, in person at Worcester Technical High School and Friday, April 28, field trips around the state. Register. For details, see above under MLTC News and Programs.
21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge with Food Solutions New England
April 3 – April 23 (21 days, Monday – Sunday)
During this free challenge, participants commit to deepening their understanding of, and willingness to confront, racism for 21 days. The desired result is that they become more aware of inequities, change their understanding, shift their behavior, and be inspired to act to dismantle negative systems. Learn more and register.
Stone Living Lab Conference
April 26 – 28 (Wednesday – Friday)
UMass Boston Campus Center
Meet and network with researchers, students, adaptation professionals, and other leaders in climate resilience at this conference focused on nature-based coastal resilience in urban settings. Learn more and register.
Northeast Farm to Institution Summit
April 18 & 19 (Tuesday & Wednesday, online) and April 27 & 28 (Thursday & Friday, in person at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Providence)
This year's summit theme is CommUNITY Powers the Food System. Topics range from healthy farm foods in schools and other institutions to engagement and reporting tools, and climate change, wealth inequality, and racism in the food system. Learn more and register.
Save the Date! Watershed Scale Climate Collaboration Conference
Wednesday, May 3 at Clark University, Worcester, MA
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network.
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.
Navigating Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) Grants
Info session: Thursday, March 2, 10:00 a.m. – noon
The webinar will help Regional Planning Agencies, municipalities, and non-profits interested in water quality restoration and climate resilience projects in Western Massachusetts learn about the LISFF grant opportunities. Learn more and register.
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. Learn more and apply.
EPA Grants Available for Wetlands Protection
Application deadline: Monday, March 27
National Wetland Program Development Grants help recipients increase the quantity and quality of wetlands in the United States by conserving and restoring wetland acreage and improving wetland conditions. Eligible projects include those that develop or refine state, tribal, territory, or local government wetland programs as a whole, or individual components of those programs. Applications must address the National Priority Area listed in the announcement. Learn more.
Stewardship Assistance and Restoration on APRs (SARA) Grants
Application deadline: Friday, April 7, 2:00 p.m.
SARA grants provide funding to help address stewardship issues and restore active commercial farming on APR (Agricultural Preservation Restriction) land. Up to $35,000 is available on a cost reimbursement basis with a 15% match of total project costs required by the farm participant. Learn more.
Government-to-Government Environmental Justice Grants
Application deadline: Monday, April 10
This EPA grant program supports government activities that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms. Eligible entities include partnerships between a local or state government and a community-based nonprofit organization. Learn more.
Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program
Application deadline: Monday, April 10
This EPA program helps recipients build collaborative partnerships with other stakeholders (e.g., local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, academia, etc.) in order to develop solutions to environmental or public health issue(s) at the community level. Non-profit organizations are eligible. Learn more.
Landscape Partnership Grants
Application deadline: Monday, April 17, 3:00 p.m.
These grants provide financial assistance to protect large blocks of conservation lands that promote ecological integrity and connectivity, and 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. Learn more.
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 Grants
Application deadline: Friday, May 5
These grants provide 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.
Resources and Opportunities
Become a TerraCorps Service Site
TerraCorps is an AmeriCorps-affiliated environmental nonprofit that recruits up to 60 AmeriCorps members per year and places them with partner organizations (Service Sites) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Members manage community programs and projects at the Service Sites during their 11-month service term. Learn more and sign up for the application notice.
2022 Environmental Justice Maps Updated
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) publishes an
Environmental Justice (EJ) Maps Viewer that provides interactive information for areas in Massachusetts identified as EJ populations based on certain demographic criteria. This data comes from the 2020 U.S. Census and the 2021 updates required due to COVID. See if your town has a mapped EJ community.
Black Faces in Green Spaces
A first-of-its-kind resource, "Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers", has just been released by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Project Learning Tree (PLT), and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The guide highlights 22 Black Americans who share their stories about finding their passions and overcoming challenges, and offer advice to the next generation about exploring their own careers in the forest and conservation sector. Learn more and download a free copy.
Tax Tips for Forest Landowners
This four-page document, updated for the 2022 tax year, contains information about various situations that may apply to forest landowners. Published by The University of Florida Extension, University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and the USDA Forest Service.
Strategies for Preventing Green Gentrification
The American Society of Landscape Architects recently posted an article helpful to anyone contemplating urban greenspace improvements.
Social Media Basics for Conservation Organizations
From our friends at WeConservePA, this concise and practical guide – with linked resources – describes the basics of social media, as well as demonstrates how organizations can enhance and expand their conservation impact by using social media to engage new and existing supporters.
Get To Know Animal Tracks
Curious about what kinds of wildlife live around you? Footprints left in a layer of fresh snow or mud can reveal animal activity that would normally be hidden from view. Learn more about how to identify animal tracks.
Bald Eagle Numbers Continue to Climb
Winter is the time for bald eagles to mate and build nests (December – February) and lay eggs (March and April). It's estimated that there are over 70 breeding pairs in Massachusetts. Learn more about where to spot eagles, and what to do if you see one of their nests.
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