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. 

Update on our Massachusetts Forest Protection Bills

Our forest bills were moved out of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA)  on May 12th. 
 
H.912, sponsored by Representative Michael Finn, was redrafted by ENRA and was sent to House Ways and Means. Six other bills accompanied the redraft - H. 1002, H.856, S.557, S.558, S.561, S.562. These six bills are now disposed of, and ideas from them were incorporated into the new bill - H.4787. 
 
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H4784
 
The redraft of H.912 did not give us what we asked for — making all of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) lands as permanent reserves. Neither did it make the current reserves permanent. Also, the redraft did not account for Fish and Game lands that were the focus of H.1002
 
What is in this new bill? (See the language below.) Here is the short recap as far as we can see. 
 
First, we asked that MGL 132, section 51 be deleted. Found here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIX/Chapter132/Section51
The current law provides for a Forest and Wood Product Institute at Mt. Wachusett Community College and includes the promotion of biomass energy. Now that biomass language would be gone, and that section of the law was re-written to promote renewable energy.
 
Second, in our negotiations, we asked that the Landscape Designation process be made permanent. This was done. And more.
 
In its first review of policies, DCR would have to report to the Legislature, not just to itself, its findings on a number of questions that we wanted to be considered. 
 
And every five years — not 10 years as is the current policy of DCR — the agency will be required to conduct a public review of its polices and report on a number of specific questions. 
 
This would include that DCR  address concerns that were expressed in the bills, such as making reserves permanent, expanding reserves, and codifying committees to oversee forest management. There is also an emphasis on transparency and public participation. At second or third glance, it looks like most or all of our concerns were included in the required review. 
 
Third, there would be a moratorium on forest management activity, potentially until June 30, 2023, which would be the deadline for the completion of the first review.
 
For now, there will be a chance to comment on the redraft of H.912 through the House Ways and Means Committee. We will keep you posted.
 
These bills could have be tossed out. This is only our second session trying to get some legislative changes to century-old laws. So we hope that you take heart and think about that by working together, we have influenced our lawmakers, state agencies and other stakeholders who were not always supporting our efforts. This has been, and hopefully will continue to be, an amazing and expanding grassroots effort. No money, no professional lobbyists. Just us and our legislators who went to bat for us. 
 
 
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at savemassforests@gmail.com

It's Time to  Take Action--Go to the ACTION-Forest Protection page

The Bills That Were Submitted 

H 912 - An Act Relative to Forest Protection is being sponsored by Representative Michael Finn - 6th Hampden District     
The proposed Act Relative to Forest Protection, H 912, 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 lands controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as parks and reserves. We would be conserving intact ecosystems that are influenced primarily by natural processes in our forests and parks. 
 
The text of the bill can be found here:  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H912
FACT SHEET
H.912 Act relative to forest protection [...]
Adobe Acrobat document [104.4 KB]
H 1002  -  An Act Relative to Increased Protection of Wildlife Management Areas is being sponsored by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa - 1st Hampshire District
 
The proposed Act to Increase Protection of Wildlife Management Areas, H 1002, 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 agency’s lands as Nature Reserves by 2030, consistent with the latest biological and climate science.
 
The text of this bill can be found here:   https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H1002
FACT SHEET
H.1002 Act to increase WMA protection ba[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [107.1 KB]

Sign up for Action Alerts - e-mail us at savemassforests@gmail.com 

                  Pre-eminent Biologist E.O. Wilson Supported This Legislation. 

 

"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]

                                                     Moratorium on Logging on Massachusetts State-Owned Lands

                                                              https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/moratorium-on-logging-1

                                                       Please sign our petition. Renowned Biologist E.O. Wilson did!

                                                                                                        July 6, 2019

Contact us at savemassforests@gmail.com