eNews The Newsletter of the Massachusetts Land Conservation Community
December 19, 2023, Volume 21, Number 12
Partnership Protects 190-Acres in Middleborough from Development
A collaborative effort between the Town of Middleborough, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Wildlands Trust, and Hanover-based Greensmith Farm (represented by Janet H. Morrison, Esq.), has protected Picone Farm – 190 acres of pristine agricultural land – from becoming a 378-unit retirement community. In addition to its extensive areas of prime farmland, the property also includes approximately 6,000 feet of frontage on the Nemasket River, scenic rolling fields, a pond, several pockets of mature woodland, and a small stream that drains into the Nemasket. Picone Farm was the largest remaining unprotected assemblage along the lower Nemasket River corridor north of Route 44 and one of the largest unprotected assemblages along the Nemasket’s 11.2-mile extent. Because the farm was enrolled in Chapter 61A, the Town had Right of First Refusal on the property. This enabled the Town and its partners to devise a preservation program which divided the farm into two halves: a "Town" component and a "farm" component. The Town of Middleborough acquired the Town component, and Greensmith Farm acquired the farm component. Wildlands will hold a Conservation Restriction (CR) on the Town component for an extra layer of protection, and MDAR and the Town will hold an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on the farm component to ensure its permanent protection. Read more.
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! Learn more / more options.Membership benefits.
With the new year nearly upon us, we want to send a huge thank you to everyone who participated in MLTC’s programs over the past year! By sharing your knowledge and experience with one another, you’ve contributed to the collective strength of Massachusetts’ amazing land conservation community.
Our best wishes to each of you for a healthy, happy new year!
Robb & Barbara
Save the Date! 2024 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference Saturday, March 23, 2023 in person at UMass Amherst and Friday, April 26, field trips around the state.
Featuring Keynote speaker Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs, University of Maine Orono, on "Centering Indigenous Peoples and Nations in Land Protection and Conservation: Wabanaki Possibilities".
Topics of Special Interest to Small Staffed Land Trusts – Quarterly Call
Tuesday, January 16, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Topic(s) are still being decided, but may include: efficient committee management, trail audits, enforcing trail rules, and key networking topics to discuss at the 2024 Mass Land Conservation Conference on Saturday, March 23. This call is a Stronger Together networking program facilitated by MLTC. It will not be recorded. Register.
Development Staff: Sustaining Donor Membership
Thursday, January 25, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Share with your development colleagues from across the state your success stories, questions, and ideas about sustaining donor memberships, and any programs you have (or would like to implement) for retaining sustaining donors. Part of MLTC's Stronger Together networking series. This call will not be recorded. Register.
Stewardship Roundtable: Unhoused Encampments
Thursday, February 8, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. This one-hour Zoom will start with a brief summary by two land trusts of their experiences with homeless encampments, then open the discussion to the group for insights, questions, and sharing their own strategies, successes and challenges. We'll also gauge if there's interest in holding regular topic-based stewardship calls. Part of MLTC's Stronger Together networking series, intended for staff and board members of land trusts and their conservation partners. Facilitated by MLTC. This discussion will not be recorded. Register.
Topics of Interest to All Volunteer Land Trusts
Tuesday, March 5, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. The focus of this call will be "Membership Programs: Yes? No? Alternatives?". Some organizations have membership programs, others don't. Some are moving away from a membership model. Why? What alternatives are there? Come share your experiences, questions, and suggestions. Part of MLTC's Stronger Together networking series. This discussion will not be recorded. Register.
New to Land Conservation? Please Take This Survey.
Are you in your first 10 years of a land conservation profession? Take this 5-minute survey to help ECCN (Early Conservation Career Network) plan future programs. Click here to take the survey. Thanks to everyone who has already done so. Anyone who participates will be entered to win a $50 REI gift card.
Increasing the Pace of Farmland Conservation
The Ag Conservation Working Group is working on developing strategies to increase the pace of farmland conservation in the state, including facilitating greater regional collaboration, developing more educational and outreach tools around farm conservation funding sources and mechanisms, and enhancing educational opportunities for land trusts. If you are interested in these topics, contact Jamie Pottern (firstname.lastname@example.org) for how to get involved.
Conference Exhibitor & Sponsorship Opportunities
Promote your business to a live audience of over 400 members of the Massachusetts conservation community plus thousands more through Conference online publicity. Details here and here.
Thank you to the generous sponsors who have joined us so far!
On December 4, 2023, the Healey-Driscoll administration released the Massachusetts Farmland Action Plan for 2023-2050, a long-range strategic plan to address Massachusetts’ farmland needs. It sets goals and priorities to significantly expand protection of remaining farmland, make more public land and marginal or abandoned land available for farming, increase technical assistance grants and farmland support programs, ensure equity criteria are applied in all land protection and technical assistance programs, and enact zoning measures that support farmland.
Climate Report Card
On December 1, 2023, EEA released its Massachusetts Climate Report Card, featuring assessments of the Commonwealth’s progress in meeting its climate mandates and goals to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change. While Massachusetts has made progress, a strong policy response to existing and emerging challenges will be needed to meet the Commonwealth’s ambitious 2030 targets. This candid look at the Commonwealth’s progress to date helps provide accountability to the public, advocates, lawmakers, and the state itself and inform the adoption of new strategies to reduce emissions.
As part of the ResilientMass Plan, on November 28 the Healey-Driscoll administration announced launch of the ResilientCoasts Initiative, a strategy for addressing impacts of climate change along the Massachusetts coast. Under the leadership of a new Chief Coastal Resilience Officer at the Office of Coastal Zone Management, the aim is to identify regulatory, policy, and funding mechanisms to develop long-term solutions addressing coastal impacts of climate change. As part of the initiative, MEMA will hire a consultant to conduct a statewide study of coastal and inland lands at risk of flooding, and options for mitigating that risk that may include creation of a new pre-disaster buyout program for properties in high flood-risk zones.
Energy Infrastructure Siting Commission
On September 26, Governor Healey signed an Executive Order creating the Commission on Clean Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting (CEISP). Members include representatives from TNC, Mass Audubon, and MACC. To meet goals outlined in its Clean Energy and Climate Plans, Massachusetts will need to site a significant amount of new energy infrastructure, including solar and wind fields and storage, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. The CEISP is charged with providing recommendations on legislation, regulations and policies to rapidly deploy ‘clean’ energy generation, storage, and infrastructure, while enhancing stakeholder engagement and avoiding impacts on nature and people. Recommendations are expected by March 31, 2024.
FY24 LAND, PARC and Conservation Partnership Grants Awarded
On December 14, the state announced $13 million in funding to municipalities and land trusts to help conserve 222 acres of land and improve 18 parks in environmental justice communities. Congratulations to the land trusts that supported municipal awardees and to those receiving direct funding for land acquisition, including Barnstable Land Trust, Brewster Conservation Trust, Buzzards Bay Coalition, East Quabbin Land Trust, Essex County Greenbelt, Harwich Conservation Trust, Kestrel Land Trust, Metacoment Land Trust, North County Land Trust, Orleans Conservation Trust, The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, and Wareham Land Trust. Read more.
New England Scenic Trail Now a National Park Unit
The 235-mile New England National Scenic Trail, which stretches from the Long Island Sound shoreline of Connecticut to the New Hampshire border, is now recognized as a unit of the National Park System. The Trail has been in existence for more than 50 years, and was given federal recognition in 2009. In Massachusetts, it mostly follows the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, and takes hikers through Mount Tom State Reservation, Mount Holyoke Range State Park, Mount Grace State Forest and Royalston Falls, with hikes ranging from just over half a mile to 13 miles. This past July, the Trust for Public Land protected more than 200 acres along the trail in Southwick, including part of a traprock ridgeline that runs from the coast of Connecticut to the Mount Holyoke range. The property will be managed as part of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge.
Webinars and eLearning
Dam Busters 101: Monthly Lunchtime Webinar Series
First Wednesday of each month starting November 1, noon – 1:00 p.m.
Sponsored by DER, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and CRWA, each webinar focuses on a dam removal topic, features an expert, and offers time for questions and discussion. The goal is to give municipal and NGO dam removal project managers the knowledge they need to successfully manage and carry out a dam removal projects. Attend one or all. An in-person site visit is planned at the end of the series in the fall of 2024. Register. View previous sessions.
Land Trust Alliance and Terrafirma Offer Free Risk Management Series
Thursday, January 4, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The last course in this series, Basic Risk Management: Tips from Terrafirma, Leslie Ratley-Beach, conservation defense director at the Land Trust Alliance and vice president of Alliance Risk Management Services, will review trends from over 2,200 claims submitted over the past eleven years of Terrafirma conservation defense liability insurance and respond to attendee comments. If staff or board members of Terrafirma member organizations attend these webinars, the organization will receive the Terrafirma risk management discount for the 2024 policy year.
New Entry's Farm Business Planning Course
Tuesdays, January 9 - February 27, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project is a Tufts University initiative to strengthen local food systems by supporting farmers. This course is designed to support the startup and expansion of farms. Students will learn to create a mission and vision for their business, develop a budget and a plan for funding, create a marketing plan, set goals, and create a timeline for their business to grow and scale. Cost: $400, with need-based and veteran scholarships available. Learn more.
Conservation Restriction (CR) Monitoring
Wednesday, January 10, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Sponsored by MACC (Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions). This class will cover the basics of monitoring Conservation Restrictions, including general philosophy, fieldwork, landowner relations, and how to document potential violations. Register.
Spongy Moths and Defoliation in 2024
Thursday, January 11, 7:00 p.m., virtual (Register) and in-person (Lovejoy Auditorium, Millbrook, NY. Register for seating.)
This presentation by Clive Jones and Charles Canham will address the questions: will defoliation of trees by spongy moths, invasive forest pests that recently resurfaced, happen again in 2024? Will defoliated trees recover? Can we do anything to protect our trees and forests? Facilitated by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Free. Learn more.
ACEP-ALE Program Sub-Committee Winter Meeting
Wednesday, January 17, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Learn about ACEP-ALE (Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Agricultural Land Easements) and Wetland Reserve Easements programs as tools for farmland protection, participate in making recommendations to the State Technical Committee, and help shape the role and scope of this sub-committee to advance farmland protection efforts across the state. This group will plan to meet quarterly. All interested parties are welcome.Register.
Northeast Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change Symposium
February 27 & 28 (Tuesday & Wednesday)
Learn about and discuss challenges and solutions to dually managing invasive species and a changing climate. Details forthcoming here.
In-Person Events and Outings
2024 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference
Saturday, January 13, Worcester State University
This one-day event provides a place to learn, gather, and kindle relationships in community with farmers, local food enthusiasts, land care professionals, advocates, elders, young leaders, and everyone in between. Learn more and register.
Farm Succession School – Berkshires
Application deadline: Friday, January 19 (or until filled)
Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield, MA
January 31 | February 28 | March 27
This three-day, in-person course is an opportunity for retiring farmers to talk with peers, learn from advisors, and get support on the challenging process of farm succession and transfer planning. Farmers do not need to have an identified successor to participate in this course. Cost: $100 per farm. Learn more.
Massachusetts Environmental and Energy Agenda for 2024 and Beyond
Wednesday, January 24, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: Nutter McLennen & Fish LLC, Seaport District, Boston
This event, hosted by the Environmental Business Council of New England, will feature EOEEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper with a presentation on EOEEA accomplishments, and the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s environmental, energy, and climate goals for 2024. Learn more and register.
Save the Date! 2024 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference Saturday, March 23, 2023 in person at UMass Amherst, and Friday, April 26, field trips around the state.
New!Fish Passage Program Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Restoring River, Floodplain, and Coastal Connectivity and Resiliency
Application deadline: Sunday, December 31
The goal of this US Fish and Wildlife program is to maintain or increase native fish populations in order to improve ecosystem resiliency, and provide quality fishing experiences. A variety of project types may be funded, including but not limited to dam removals, culvert replacements, floodplain restoration and reconnection, dike breaches, and reconnection of tidal habitats.Learn more.
New!Walmart Local Community Grants
Application deadline: Sunday, December 31
These grants, ranging from $250 to $5,000, support non-profit work in 8 areas, including Environmental Sustainability, Quality of Life, and Diversity and Inclusion. Grants are accepted quarterly. Learn more and apply.
Funding for MA Forest Landowners to Improve Native Wildlife Habitat
Application deadline: Friday, January 5 (also March 8 or May 10)
Offered through the Massachusetts Collaborative for Private Forestland – Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), this funding focuses on improving and protecting wildlife habitat on private forest land in the Massachusetts. Eligible landowners must own forestland in Massachusetts that is at least 10 acres. Applications received by January 5 (or March 8 or May 10) will be ranked and considered for funding in fiscal year 2024. Learn more.
New!Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Grant Program Sub-applications are due to MEMA by Monday, January 8
The goal of this FEMA program is to employ cost-effective measures to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to infrastructure. Learn more.
New!Resilient and Connected Appalachians Grants
Info webinar: Wednesday, January 10, 11:00 a.m. Register
Application deadline: Saturday, February 24
This new program funded by The Nature Conservancy awards up to $50,000 to support projects that result in the permanent protection of resilient and connected lands in pivotal landscapes. Projects should focus on the intersection of connectivity, climate resilience, and community engagement, especially with vulnerable or affected groups. Learn more.
Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants (LWCF)
Application deadline: Thursday, January 11
These 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. Grant limit: up to $1,000,000. Learn more and apply.
New!Drinking Water Supply Protection Grants
Info session: Thursday, January 11, 1:00 p.m. via MS Teams
Application deadline: Friday, March 8, 3:00 p.m.
This program provides financial assistance for the purchase of land in existing Department of Environmental Protection approved drinking water supply protection areas, or land in estimated protection areas of identified and planned future water supply wells or reservoirs. Grants of up to $350,000 are available. To attend the info session, email email@example.com by Monday, January 8 to receive the link. Learn more.
Community Forest Program Grants
Application deadline: Friday, January 12
This program provides financial assistance to establish community forests by protecting forest land from conversion to non-forest uses through fee simple acquisition of private forest land. Public access is required for all projects. Applicants are strongly encouraged to work with their appropriate Forest Service Region/Institute contact during the application process before submission. Learn more. View the RFP.
New!Trails Capacity Grants
Application deadline: Monday, January 15
Administered by American Trails, these grants of $5,000 to $10,000 are for projects that focus on stewardship training, trail maintenance backlog on state and local lands, and research and education. Projects should be inclusive, foster improved trail user behavior, and connect trail assets to a broader spectrum of users. Learn more here and here.
New!Seeking Culvert Replacement Grant Project Inquiries
Info webinar: Tuesday, January 16, 1:00 p.m. Register
Project inquiry deadline: Thursday, January 18
This DER (Department of Ecological Restoration) program awards grants to replace undersized, perched, and/or degraded culverts located in areas of high ecological value. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact DER at DERCulverts@mass.gov to schedule yours before January 18. DER staff will meet with you before the RFR is released to discuss your project's eligibility. Grant materials and FAQs coming mid-January.
New!Implementing the Commonwealth’s Healthy Soils Action Plan Challenge Grants
Application deadline: Friday, January 19
This EOEEA (Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs) program is soliciting ideas and plans for implementing the Healthy Soils Action Plan, and to monitor and improve soil health in general. Grant objectives are: to promote healthy soils, sustainable land management, and community engagement, and to refine tools for municipal soil mapping, assessment, and planning. Learn more.
New!Farmland Access, Succession, and Transfer Support Grants
Application deadline: Wednesday, January 31
These grants provide up to $5,000 to farmers looking to purchase or lease land, or pass their farms on to other farmers. Farmer applicants must be located in Maine, Rhode Island, or Eastern Massachusetts. A program of American Farmland Trust. Learn more and apply.
Application deadline: Thursday, February 1
These grants provide funding and technical expertise for project development, design, engineering, permitting, construction, maintenance of recreational trails, shared-use pathways, and the amenities that support trails. These are reimbursement grants with a match requirement. Learn more and apply.
NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnerships (CAP) Program
Application deadline: Monday, February 5
CAP is an applied research and engagement program which supports sustained, collaborative relationships that help communities build lasting and equitable climate resilience. It seeks to support new creative, solution-oriented approaches that are both responsive to communities and that integrate across silos of scientific knowledge and expertise. Funded by five-year cooperative agreements. Info sheet. Learn more.
New!Inclusive and Accessible Outdoor Recreation Events Support Grants
Application deadline: Friday, February 23
This program, the first offered by the new Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR), aims to make outdoor recreational activities more accessible to low-income residents, communities of color, and people living with disabilities. Grants of up to $10,000 will support events that encourage new and returning audiences to the great outdoors. Learn more.
Cornell Land Trust Small Grants
Application deadline: Friday, March 1
Cornell Lab’s Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative grant program will awardaround $230,000 to as many as 14 projects in two categories: Capacity and Partnership Projects – up to 6 grants of $5,000 each, and Management and Restoration Projects – 8 grants of $25,000 each. Funds to be dispersed in late May. Learn more.
Innovation and Capacity-Building Grants
Application deadline: rolling through Wednesday, April 3
These grants, part of the EmPower Program of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, provide seed funding for the exploration of innovative ideas for potential program models or projects that will provide access to the benefits of clean energy, or reduce energy burden for previously underserved or vulnerable populations in the state. RFP. Learn more.
Solar Moonshot Program
This program helps non-profits afford the switch to clean energy. Grant priority is given to solar projects that have additional funding sources and community support. Grants are typically awarded up to $25,000, with amounts dependent on various factors. The program is managed by Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation, and grants are funded by generous philanthropists and foundations. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more and apply.
Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Partnership Grants
Application deadline: accepted on a rolling basis starting October 1 until funding is exhausted
This program serves as a catalyst for new, creative programs and projects within 45 communities of the Heritage Area. Reimbursable matching grants are offered in support of the goals and objectives outlined in the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Management Plan and summarized as: Inclusive Storytelling; Education, Interpretation & Curation; Community Planning & Resource Conservation; Historic Preservation; and Regional Cultural Events. Funding ranges from $1000 to $7500. Discussion of your proposal with a grant specialist before applying is highly recommended. Learn more here and here.
Land Conservation Networking Mini Grants
Applications accepted on a rolling basis, but applying in the fall is recommended
Projects must be complete by April 15, 2024
Recognizing that many land conservation projects require partnerships among community leaders and other conservation partners, this mini grant program focuses on creating intentional opportunities for networking and relationship building. The ideal proposal will bring together people from a shared geography to build or strengthen relationships in service of community conservation. Learn more.
Neighborhood Outreach Project
Applications accepted on a rolling basis, but applying in the fall is recommended
Landowner decisions are often informed by advice and stories of friends and neighbors. The goal of this grant is to use neighborhood-scale social networks to help inform landowner decisions about the future of their land. Past projects include direct mailings to high-priority landowners, videos, workshops, potlucks, site visits, and individualized follow-up with interested landowners. Learn more and apply.
Supporting Underserved and Small-Acreage Forest Landowner Participation
Application deadline: reviewed quarterly, with final deadline Wednesday, August 21 These grants, funded by the US Forest Service, support the participation of underserved or small-acreage forest landowners in emerging private markets for climate mitigation or forest resilience. Learn more and apply.
Resources and Opportunities
Cape Cod First Day Hikes
Monday, January 1, multiple locations, 6:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Launched three years ago as a collaboration among eight non-profits and 11 events with the goal of getting people outside, this year's celebration has grown to 15 conservation groups with 18 events scattered from Provincetown to Wareham. A sneak peak: visit a herring run and cranberry bogs; learn about the land from the indigenous perspective; walk along farmland trails; spot a glacier moraine; and much much more! View the schedule.
New England Farmer-to-Farmer Soil Health Cohort Program
Application deadline: Thursday, February 15
This one-year peer-to-peer soil health planning program is for vegetable producers in Massachusetts from a range of scales and operation types. Participants will learn new techniques for improving soil health directly from peers, with support from AFT's professional network. This program is not limited to, but will prioritize, farmers who have been historically underserved by USDA programs. A program of American Farmland Trust. Learn more and apply.
Tool to Find Federal Funding Sources
Defenders of Wildlife launched Wildlife and Land Trusts (WALT), an online tool which identifies federal resources for wildlife conservation. WALT features programs that can help land trusts acquire land, purchase conservation easements, restore or improve habitat, manage forests, sequester greenhouse gas emissions, and manage invasive species.
National Climate Assessment Report
This new report provides an assessment of human-caused climate impacts across the United States along with strategies for informed mitigation. The report also emphasizes the use of Indigenous knowledge to understand long-range changes in the environment and the associated impacts, as well as recognizing the disparate impacts of climate change, and the need for creating equitable solutions.
Promote the Massachusetts State Charitable Tax Deduction with This Toolkit
The State Charitable Deduction applies to all donations made from January 1, 2023 onward. It includes all Massachusetts taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize federally. The Massachusetts deduction provides non-profits with a new tool to promote giving and increase fundraising revenue. See here for a factsheet and marketing toolkit.
DCR's Universal Access Program (UAP) Winter Schedule
UAP's winter season will offer adaptable/accessible ice skating, hiking, cross-country skiing, kick sledding, snow shoeing, and more. Learn more and sign up soon.
Need Help Building a 5-Year Conservation Plan?
Application deadline: Friday, March 8
This service of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services’ (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), assists private forest landowners, land trusts, farmers, sportsmen clubs, and others by designing a 5-year conservation plan that provides financial assistance for active conservation measures already being conducted on the land units enrolled such as forest thinning, invasive species control, installing wildlife structures, etc. Minimum annual payments to participants start at $4,000/year ($20,000 over the 5 year contract). Learn more. Contact John Doyle, Forestry and Wildlife Implementation Specialist, or your local NRCS Field Office for more information.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure Siting Tool The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) created this interactive decision-support tool to help metro Boston communities equitably site green infrastructure, with benefits for stormwater mitigation, climate-resilient solutions, and community education. Learn more.
Growing Solar, Protecting Nature
This comprehensive economic and geospatial study by Harvard Forest and Mass Audubon analyzes whether and how Massachusetts can meet its solar goals while protecting its most valuable natural and working lands. Learn more.
Youth Artists Nature Artwork Competition
Deadline: Thursday, February 15
Calling all youth artists, K-12 to submit original artwork to this fun, educational competition sponsored by the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp Program, which connects kids with wildlife conservation and the wonders of nature through art. Learn more.
Post your job openings on the MLTC self-serve Job Board anytime!