The Newsletter of the Massachusetts Land Conservation Community
May 18, 2023, Volume 21, Number 5
Couple's Conservation Ethic Protects 192 Acres in Ashfield
In late 2019, Peter Corens and Janet Castleman of Ashfield purchased a farm along Beldingville Road for the sole purpose of conserving it and protecting it from what could have been multiple house lots along significant road frontage. The parcels abut other conserved land, and are in a region of significantly large tracts of privately owned conservation lands. The farm contains high quality hay fields currently farmed by local farmers, approximately 30 acres of statewide important farm soils, and a few acres of prime farmland soils. In December 2022, using the state's Conservation Land Tax Credit program, they donated two conservation restrictions (CRs) on that property to Franklin Land Trust, totaling 146 acres, protecting forest, agricultural fields, and frontage along the Bear River. The properties are in the Bear River subbasin, and are part of a large block of already conserved land bisected by the Bear River. The conserved parcels, which remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls, protect primary tributaries that serve as crucial cold-water fisheries resources. The remaining undeveloped parcel of 45 acres will be conserved through a donated CR to Franklin Land Trust in 2023. Read more (scroll to "Building a Legacy").
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.
A warm day in May was perfect for enjoying the breeze off Quissett Harbor at The Knob in Falmouth, owned by Salt Pond Bird Sanctuaries. #OurMassLandTrusts
ECCN Outing: Foraging at the Acton Arboretum
Tuesday, May 23, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Acton Arboretum, Acton
Calling anyone in their first ten years of a conservation career! Join MLTC’s Early Conservation Career Network and Russ Cohen, author of the book Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, on a two-hour ramble to learn about at least 18 species of edible wild plants and how they function in the landscape. Register.
Topics of Special Interest to All-Volunteer Land Trusts (AVLTs)
Wednesday, May 24, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., via Zoom
Part of the Stronger Together Networking series this informal one-hour discussion is intended for staff and board members of AVLTs. AVLTs often face a unique set of concerns running their organizations. Today's discussion will touch upon some of those, such as succession planning and hiring staff or contractors, and perhaps others. Facilitated by MLTC. This discussion will not be recorded. Register here.
MLTC Steering Committee Meeting
Friday, June 9, 10:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Hybrid: Mass Wildlife Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA and 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 a featured topic. This month will include a welcome from Tom O’Shea, newly named Commissioner of Fish & Game, and a tutorial on making conservation maps for those without GIS expertise, from Jack Nessen, GIS Systems Manager at Mass Audubon. Only if you're attending via Zoom, registration required here.
Kickstart the Agricultural Conservation Working Group
Tuesday, June 13, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. via Zoom
Do you work with the agricultural community and want to enhance what can be done to
support farmland protection and farming in the state? Join this group of stakeholders to
convene around agricultural conservation. This will follow in the footsteps of successful
MLTC working groups that have revised the state’s model CR and created the Valuing
Nature's Services Toolkit, building off of the former Agricultural Subcommittee. With the recent releases of the Healthy Soils Action Plan, Resilient Lands Initiative, Clean Energy and Climate Plan, and the forthcoming Farmland Action Plan, this working group aims to address both the challenges and opportunities in farmland conservation. Kathy Orlando from the Sheffield Land Trust and David Viale from MDAR APR program will spearhead this effort. Facilitated by MLTC. Register.
Conservation & Housing in Collaboration
Tuesday, June 27, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. via Zoom
Part of the Stronger Together Networking series, this one-hour discussion will focus on "How to Partner with an Affordable Housing Advocate / Developer / Community Land Trust". Intended for staff and board members of non-profit land conservation organizations. Facilitated by MLTC. This discussion will not be recorded. Register here.
State Budget Deliberations Continue
The House version of the FY24 state operating budget passed in late April and the Senate begins debate on its version the week of May 22nd. The Green Budget Coalition will continue to advocate for our priorities as the process moves from the Senate to a conference committee to reconcile House and Senate versions. Meanwhile, MLTC is supporting two important amendments to the Senate budget as noted below:
Action Alert: Help Expand the Conservation Land Tax Credit!
Please call and email your State Senator before May 22nd and ask them to co-sponsor Amendment #770 to the FY24 Senate Ways and Means Budget, which would increase the annual cap for the CLTC Program from $2 million to $5 million incrementally over three years and amend the definition of a "public or private conservation agency" to include private nonprofit trusts organized for conservation purposes. Find your state senator’s contact information here. See this fact sheet for more information to share with your Senator, and below is a draft message you can tailor for your own use. Let your Senator know why the CLTC is important to you and/or your organization!
Increasing the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program from $2 million to $5 million is critical to meeting the goals of the Next Gen Roadmap law and Clean Energy and Climate Plan which calls for 25,000 acres to be conserved every year between now and 2050. The CLTC is a highly effective and efficient conservation tool utilized by municipalities, land trusts, and state agencies to permanently conserve pre-certified land and water of significant conservation value, including carbon-rich working farms and forests, drinking water lands, and rare species habitat. Under the program, every $1 in state tax credit leverages over $4 of land value. More than 15,500 acres have been conserved using the CLTC; but there is now a 2+ year wait list causing deals to fall through and deterring landowners from participating.
Action Alert: Support the CPA Trust Fund!
Please also ask your State Senator to co-sponsor Amendment #66 to the FY24 Senate Ways and Means Budget, which would allocate up to $30 million in state budget surplus funds for the CPA Trust Fund – the source of the state match on local CPA Fund collections. This is especially important this year because the real estate market slowdown has negatively impacted recording fee surcharges that support the CPA Trust Fund.
Tom O'Shea Named Fish and Game Commissioner
Tom O’Shea, most recently Vice President of Conservation and Resilience at The Trustees, is now Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). Prior to his role at The Trustees overseeing land conservation, advocacy and policy, agriculture, coastal resilience and ecology, he served as an Assistant Director for DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Tom earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School and a Master of Forestry from Yale University’s School of Environment.
Time-Sensitive Update on the IRS’ Safe Harbor Opportunity to Amend CRs
The IRS is offering a limited "safe harbor" window from now until Monday July 24th to record amendments to existing CRs in order to avoid potential future penalties for non-compliance with two specific provisions, for which the IRS has provided new model language. This is primarily a matter of concern for landowners who claimed a federal tax deduction when placing a CR on their land, particularly within three years of taking any charitable deduction for the CR. While the obligation to review and respond to this opportunity lies with CR donors and their tax advisors, many land trusts and conservation attorneys have been considering whether to alert CR donors to an issue that may not be on their radar, and their potential need to respond to CR donors who wish to proceed. MLTC urges all land trusts to understand this issue (well summarized here) in order to respond swiftly to potential communications by landowners. Each land trust should make its own determination about notifying landowners, and donors should determine whether to seek an amendment with the advice of their counsel. In Massachusetts, interested landowners will face a timing challenge related to the requirement to secure state signature on any amendment before it can be recorded. MLTC has consulted with the Division of Conservation Services at EOEEA (DCS) on a template and process by which DCS might approve these safe harbor CR amendments for recording by July 24 and DCS expects to release that template very soon. Please check their website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for latest information.
USFWS Supports River Restoration in Massachusetts
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced 22 states will receive $35 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support fish passage projects that restore rivers, protect wildlife, and improve climate resilience. In Massachusetts, the Talbot Mills Dam Removal Project on the Concord River in Billerica received $800,000 to remove the dam, reopening 135 stream-miles and 740 acres of habitat. This will be the largest dam removal project in the history of the state. Also, just over $1 million was awarded for restoration of the Upper Coonamesset River Wetland Complex in Falmouth, which entails removing seven fish passage barriers. Read more.
Wealthy White Homeowners More Likely to See Financial Benefits from Land Conservation
A new study by University of Rhode Island and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign used Massachusetts as a primary source of data to demonstrate that the financial benefits of land conservation are unequally distributed among demographic groups in the U.S. Read the summary article.
Kelly Barber Named a Non-profit Excellence Award Finalist
MLTC is pleased to note that Kelly Barber, Vice President of the Early Conservation Career Network (ECCN) and Barnstable Land Trust's Director of Land Stewardship, has been named as a finalist in the Young Professional category as part of Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s 2023 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. She will be recognized on June 6 at the Massachusetts State House.
Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law 2023
Registration ends May 19 at 1:00 p.m.
Monday, May 22, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
This program will address the latest case law, legal issues, and IRS guidance impacting conservation restrictions (easements), including tax issues. Though land trust staff and board members, government employees, appraisers, and landowners are invited to attend, this webinar is aimed at experienced professionals (not beginners). Experts will offer practical advice. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the IRS's perspective and ask questions. Learn more and register. Sponsored by the Cultural Vision Fund and Utah Open Lands in cooperation with the Wallace Stegner Center at the University of Utah.
Fundamentals of Wetlands Enforcement
Wednesday, May 24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
This MACC Fundamentals unit will include information on applicable laws, regulations, and suggestions for developing a good enforcement case. Case studies and participatory scenarios will be included. Register.
Wildlands in New England: Release Briefing
Wednesday, May 31, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The Wildlands in New England report is the first U.S. study to map and characterize all permanently conserved lands in one region that are managed to be forever wild. Presenters David Foster, Jon Leibowitz, Liz Thompson, Marissa Latshaw will highlight the report's key findings and recommendations, while outlining examples of Wildlands throughout the region and their critical roles. Register.
Acquisition and Stewardship Peer Program
Through June 2024
Join land and CR acquisition and stewardship peers across the eastern U.S. to expand knowledge and skills and find a place for support — sharing successes and seeking solutions to challenges. Offered through LTA. $300. Some full scholarships are available. Learn more.
LTA's Ninth Symposium on Advanced Legal Topics in Land Conservation
June 8 & 9 (Thursday & Friday)
Experts will cover the latest conservation law developments, and offer practical solutions. Ideal for attorneys, senior conservation practitioners, and law school faculty. Learn more and register.
A Pragmatic Approach to Social Media
Wednesday, June 21, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
From our friends at WeConservePA, this online workshop will cover a range of topics such as how to hone in on the strongest and most efficient messaging; how to take advantage of free online options; and more. There'll also be time to set up a piece of content for an upcoming event using info learned, and time for Q&A/group discussion. Learn more. Register. $20.
In Person Events and Outings
Foraging at the Acton Arboretum
Tuesday May 23, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Acton Arboretum, Acton
For people in their first ten years of a conservation career. See details under MLTC News and Events, above. Register
Accessible Access Fair for DCR's Universal Access Program
Saturday, June 10, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Herter Park/Artesani Playground, Brighton
This free, family-friendly, inclusive event includes a variety of activities like adaptive cycling, hiking, golf, and more. Meet an array of regional adaptive recreation organizations and learn about accessible, adaptive, and inclusive recreation opportunities in the greater Boston area and beyond. Learn more. Pre-registration is highly recommended, especially for use of equipment. Pre-register online, or call Universal Access at (857) 319-2168. Pre-register to request an ASL interpreter or other accommodations. In case of severe weather, call (857) 319-2168 for a recording of the fair’s status.
Forest Health Workshop Series
Fridays in June and July, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Various locations around the state
Join DCR foresters at this walk-and-talk field series about how to identify and manage forest pests and diseases. Sessions will be outdoors over varied terrain. Learn more and register.
2023 Federal Climate and Energy Funding Opportunities
A new list compiled by the Biden administration includes information on various federal funding programs, including many funded by the Inflation Protection Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with application deadlines and links to application information. View the list.
MVP 2.0 Program
Application deadline: Friday, May 19, 4:00 p.m.
This program provides 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. Learn more here and here. Apply.
Coastal Habitat and Water Quality Grant
Q&A deadline: Friday, May 26
Application deadline: Friday, June 30
These grants from the Office of Coastal Zone Management support recipients to assess and remediate stormwater pollution, and support comprehensive habitat restoration planning and implementation, including capacity for green infrastructure. Learn more and apply.
Northeast Forests & Rivers Fund
Info session: Wednesday, May 31, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Register
Application deadline: Thursday, July 13
Funds are available to restore and sustain healthy rivers, forests and grasslands that provide habitat for diverse fish and wildlife populations. Projects that incorporate outreach and / or partnership with communities are encouraged. Only grant requests between $75,000 and $300,000 will be considered. Learn more.
Urban & Community Forestry Federal Matching Grants
Application deadline: Thursday, June 1
The U.S. Forest Service is offering grants starting at $100,000 for projects that increase equitable access to urban trees and green spaces which improve human health and offer environmental and economic benefits in disadvantaged communities. Learn more.
SNEP 2023 Stormwater and Natural Infrastructure Grants
Info session: Thursday, June 1, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Join the session.
Deadline to submit questions: Friday, June 23 to SECoastalNE@EPA.GOV
Application deadline: Friday, June 30
The Southeast New England Program (SNEP) anticipates awarding up to six (6) grants of $400,000-$600,000 each to fund climate resilient infrastructure that promotes nature-based solutions, habitat restoration, and protection to restore ecosystem services degraded by poor stormwater and development practices. Learn more and apply.
MassDEP Technical Assistance Grant
Info session: Tuesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom (join here)
Grants of up to $20,000 are available to community and municipal groups to enhance public participation in assessment and cleanup activities at oil or hazardous material disposal sites. This info session by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup will cover the purpose, eligibility requirements, and application process and timelines of the program. Learn more.
Land and Climate Grants
Application deadline: Thursday, June 8
These grants, sponsored by the Land Trust Alliance and Open Space Institute, are to help integrate climate science into strategic land protection plans or forest stewardship plans, and to integrate climate change into land protection and management decisions. Learn more here and here.
LSPA Environmental Justice Grants
Application deadline: Friday, June 30, 5:00 p.m.
These small grants support implementation of community-driven projects that help better understand and address local environmental and public health issues. The grants target efforts by non-profit organizations and volunteers in communities with Environmental Justice (EJ) populations. The LSPA encourages groups and organizations to partner together to achieve their goals. Learn more.
LAND and PARC Grant Programs
Application deadline: Thursday, July 13
The LAND grant program is for municipal conservation commissions looking to protect conservation land. The PARC grant program is for municipalities looking to acquire parkland, renovate an existing park, and develop a new park. Learn more.
Conservation Partnership Grants
Application deadline: Monday, July 17
These grants are for 501(c)(3) organizations looking for assistance in acquiring land in fee or a conservation restriction, as well as assistance with due diligence costs associated with gifts. Learn more. Contact Melissa Cryan with questions.
Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants
RFPs coming later this spring.
The Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program, established under the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, will provide $3 billion over the next 5 years to improve connectivity in communities affected by divisive infrastructure. It will fund projects designed to build or improve complete streets, multiuse trails, regional greenways or active transportation networks and spines. Projects located in economically disadvantaged areas will be prioritized and may receive a larger share of federal funds. Learn more.
Federal Funding Options for Trails, Transportation, and Communities
In addition to the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants (see above), sources include Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program, and the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. Learn more.
Resources and Opportunities
Input Needed on Nature-Based Solutions
Deadline: Wednesday, May 31
Mass Audubon, along with governmental and NGO partners, is working to identify and evaluate opportunities and barriers to taking nature-based climate solutions to scale. Please take a few moments to complete the survey to help them advance this important work in Massachusetts.
Land Loss, Reparations & Housing Policy Conference Collateral
Watch this inaugural event of the Boston College Initiative on Land, Housing & Property Rights. Access the presentations here (PDFs).
Pro-Bono Business Consulting for Non-profits
Application deadline: Friday, June 2
Community Action Partners (CAP) is a program of the Harvard Business School Association of Boston which helps guide non-profits which have business challenges. Interested? Pre-application consultations are HIGHLY recommended, and can be schedule with CAP Executive Director Kathy Le. Learn more. Apply.
Opportunities via Massachusetts' New Charitable Deduction
A recent report by the Barr Foundation sheds light on what this new policy means for individual giving, and it's potential to impact on the Commonwealth's non-profits. Learn more about the charitable deduction.
RCP Network Gathering Seeks Workshop Proposals
Deadline: Friday, June 16
After three years of virtual events, the 2023 RCP (Regional Conservation Partnership) Network Gathering will be fully in-person on Thursday, November 9, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Do you have a project that advances collaborative landscape conservation and want to share your stories? Propose a workshop.
Rally Scholarships Available
Application deadline: Monday, June 19
The 2023 national Rally will be in Portland, Oregon September 6 – 9 (Wednesday – Saturday). LTA is offering organizational scholarships and individual stipends to help defray the costs of participation. Learn more.
New England Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees
Application deadline: Tuesday, July 18
Are you a New England farmer or forestland owner who improves soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat on your working land? Apply for the 2023 New England Leopold Conservation Award. If you know someone else who meets those criteria, you can also nominate them. Learn more.
Make Way for Duckl…Turtles!
In mid-May turtles get more active trying to find a mate and food. They often cross the road to see what's on the other side. So be on the lookout and slow down when driving near wetlands and places you've seen turtles before. Learn more.
Using Post-Industrial Recycled Paper and Cardboard for Gardening
You've heard of peat moss, but have you heard of PittMoss? It's a climate-smart product that uses post-industrial recycled paper and cardboard as an alternative to peat moss as a growing medium and potting mix. Learn more.
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