Save Massachusetts Forests
Save Massachusetts Forests


 “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”  - Henry David Thoreau

Protecting our forests in this time of climate crisis and biodiversity collapse is recognized as an important way to protect our environment and our future health and well-being. Two bills have been submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature this session. One would permanently protect 412,000 acres under the care and control of the Division of Conservation and Recreation. The other would permanently protect 30% of the land owned by Fish and Wildlife, about 51,000 acres,  by 2030. These state agencies already have land in reserves where intact ecosystems are influenced primarily by natural processes. These bills request more reserves than we now have, and give them legal protection that they do not currently have. Together these actions would help Massachusetts to do its part to help mitigate climate change and protect our native natural heritage. 

                                    Help to support our efforts! Donate today.

                          Save Massachusetts Forests is a project of  RESTORE: The North Woods. 




The Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting appointed by Governor Maura Healey has released a draft of its recommendations that removes local control and regional oversight for the siting of renewable energy facilities and certain utility infrastructure. Public comments are now being accepted.

1- Please email even a short statement to by the deadline of March 15. Background info below.
 2- Or sign here to tell the Commission, and including your Senator and your Representative, that you strongly oppose this gutting of home rule/local control and regional oversight over energy projects or any subsequent proposed legislation that weakens home rule. This can be signed anytime during the legislative session that ends July 31. 


3- Or both.


4 - Please forward to your friends, and town Boards ( Planning Board, Zoning Board, Conservation Commission, Board of Health)  who will be severely hobbled and basically shut out of the permitting process for  large scale solar, battery energy storage systems, wind turbine facilities ( including onshore), biomass and more. 


For an individual letter:


cc:,   (they are the Chairs, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy)

Cc:  Your State Senator and State Representative found here
Subject line “Comments”

Include your name, town and your email address.


There is no representation on the Commission from Barnstable County, Duke’s County, Nantucket County or Berkshire County where much of the proposed reform will impact.


 The Commission is considering the following alarming changes to current law. Please oppose the following:
           All local and state permits would be consolidated into one state permit issued by a single state agency.
  • Municipalities would be stripped of permitting authority, and would only be allowed to submit advisory opinions to the state agency. They could conduct fact-finding with applicants and the public, but would otherwise have no local role.
  • Any reviews at a local level would be a consolidated review, combining Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commissions and other local boards who may have opposing views and rulings but would need to issue one opinion.
  • The definition of clean energy projects removed from local control could be expanded to include not just commercial solar and wind turbine facilities and landfill-gas sites, but also energy-storage facilities (such as massive battery complexes and pumped-storage ponds), certain utility transmission and distribution infrastructure and biomass.
  • This single state agency would likely also be responsible for fossil fuel generation facilities, pipelines, and liquified natural gas storage units.
  • Other state agencies would also be stripped of permitting authority such as the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act or MEPA review which is currently required for many energy-related projects, particularly larger ones and would need to align with other agencies which have had historically opposing rulings.
  • Only “intervening parties” would be allowed to file briefs on disputed issues through evidentiary hearings held by the single state agency. This severely restricts who is allowed to participate in legal proceedings.
  • If the single state agency did not issue a permit within a restricted timetable, a consolidated permit would be issued automatically to the developer under a pre-defined set of permitting conditions, a so-called constructive permit.
  • Regional regulatory oversight, in the counties that have that right would be eliminated which is critically important to maintain checks and balances.

The Commission’s recommendations are expected to be followed immediately by legislative action.



             MASSACHUSETTS FOREST PROTECTION BILLS                                                       And Actions You Can Take


We are happy to announce a number of bills that were submitted this legislative session.The goals of these bills is for forest protection for climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection, and the many benefits of natural forests for the public.
Forest protection bills H.904 and H.4150 have been extended by the Joint Committe on Envirnemant and Natural Resources to April 12, 2024.
Municipal local control bill S.1319/H.2082 has been extended to June 14, 2024.
These biomass bills have been extended S.2137/H.3211  and S.2136/H.3210  See the Biomass page for more info. 
Please call or e-mail your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. You can find your legislator here: 

1. H.4150 — An Act Relative to forest protection, sponsored by Representative Carmine Gentile


Hearing date was November 29, 2023 - Posted here: Hearing Details - Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

This bill is resubmitted from the last legislative session. It would update century-old public land policies written before we recognized the climate crisis and global loss of biodiversity. This bill would help address these concerns by designating 412,000 acres of forest and watershed lands controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as parks and reserves. We would permanently conserve intact ecosystems thatare influenced primarily by natural processes in our forests and parks — a level of protection that now exists for only 1% of the state’s land base.

Background and fact sheet for H.4150
H.4150 Act relative to forest protection[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [191.8 KB]
2. H904 - An Act relative to increased protection of wildlife management areas, sponsored by Representative Danillo Sena  
Hearing date was October 11, 2023  Posted here-Hearing Details - Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
This bill is resubmitted from the last legislative session. It would expand the system of nature reserves on public Wildlife Management Areas under the control of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and make them permanent. The bill would direct the designation of at least 30% of the agency’s lands as reserves by 2030, consistent with the latest biological and climate science. A Wildlife Management Area Nature Reserves Council would oversee and administer all activities related to the reserves, defined as areas where to the greatest degree possible, forests are left to evolve with little to no human intervention. ( more information attached) 
H904 Background and Fact Sheet
H.904 background 20230314.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [188.3 KB]
3. S1319/H2082  An Act Regarding Municipal Zoning Powers, sponsored by Representative Paul McMurtry and Senator Jacob Oliveira 
The hearing was November 14, 2023 - Posted here Hearing Details - Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government
This bill simply strikes language from the zoning actSection 3 of Chapter 40A of the General Laws would be amended by striking the following language: "No zoning ordinance or bylaw shall prohibit or unreasonably regulate the installation of solar energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of solar energy, except where necessary to protect the pubic health, safety or welfare." This sentence was added to the law in 1985, when the thought of acres and acres of solar panels was unimaginable. 
This bill would make sure that municipalities can pass and enforce reasonable regulations for solar just as they are allowed to do for any other development. This bill does not encourage or discourage solar development. It protects citizens and municipalities who are often losing court cases while trying to uphold their zoning bylaws. The antiquated section of the law is used by solar developers to bypass local bylaws to put solar where they want to. This bill protects the longstanding tradition and value of local control in Massachusetts, and would potentially protect tens of thousands of acres of forests, wetlands and farmlands from large solar projects are deemed locally as inappropriate. 
S1319/H2082 Background and Fact Sheet
_Solar Fact Sheet.March 16 2023.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [160.3 KB]


                                                     and protect our forests


                                                See the ACTION - MA Biomass Subsidies page 

        In the news - Carbon Forestry Committee Report released-

Report of the Climate Forestry Committee: Recommendations for Climate-Oriented Forest Management Guidelines


“Unsurprisingly, disturbing the forests of Massachusetts as little as possible and allowing forests to grow and age through passive management is generally the best approach for maximizing carbon, ecological integrity, and soil health.” (page 4)


More information about this report is here:

                                        Past News

       In the news- Massachusetts state land logging moratorium petition                                                     delivered to Governor Charlie Baker  



                  Pre-eminent Biologist E.O. Wilson Supported Our Bills

                              to Protect State- Owned Land 


"I strongly support this bill, which would permanently protect 13 percent of the Massachusetts land area, reaching from the Berkshires to the Atlantic Coast. This is the single most important action the people of thestate can take to preserve our natural heritage. As it has many times in the past, Massachusetts can provide leadership on this issue, inspiring other states across the country to take similar bold  action." 

With best wishes,     

Edward O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson Letter of Support for the Forest Protection Bill - February 19, 2019
E.O. Wilson In support of HD.3500 (10).p[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [137.1 KB]

                                                                                                        July 6, 2019

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