“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.
We are happy to announce two bills that we submitted this legislative session (information
sheets attached), and our strong support for two other important bills as well. The goals of all these bills is for forest protection for climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection, and the
many benefits of natural forests for the public. Please call or e-mail your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. You can find your legislator here:
1. H894 An Act Relative to Forest Management and practices
guidelines sponsored by Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa and Aaron Saunders.
This bill is based on the response to our bills from last session by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
(ENRA). H894 calls for a logging moratorium on all Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) state forests and watersheds, and on all Division of Fisheries
and wildlife (DFW) wildlife management areas, except in an emergency situation. It calls for an independent
Council appointed by The Committee on Environment and Naural Resources to oversee and coordinate this review. It calls for a review every five years for all of these properties including management
and guidelines as they relate to carbon accumulation and biodiversity. This is as opposed to what we have now — a voluntary 10 year review conducted by DCR of its properties that does not
include watersheds, and no comparable public review at all for the DFW wildlife management areas. ( more information attached)
2. H904 An
Act relative to increased protection of wildlife management areas, sponsored by Representative Danillo Sena
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
3. S1319/H2082 An Act Regarding Municipal Zoning
Powers, sponsored by Representative Paul McMurtry and Senator Jacob Oliveira
This bill simply strikes language from the zoning act. Section 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.
4. H895 An Act to Require Separate Carbon Accounting for
Working Lands and Natural Lands and to Eliminate from Massachusetts Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Goal any Carbon Offsets Sold to Entities Outside of the Commonwealth, sponsored by
Representative Lindsay Sabadosa
This bill would modify the Global Warming Solutions Act (Chapter 21N) as amended by the climate
roadmap bill signed into law by Gov. Baker (Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021: An act creating a
next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy) by clarifying some carbon accounting issues in the existing law.
One of the goals of the Roadmap bill is to measure and report on the degree to which natural and working lands help mitigate
climate disruption by removing carbon from the air. Existing law as written could lead to misleading assessments of net carbon accumulation in managed forests, forests in reserves, farmlands, and
other lands. HD.3907 would ensure that these lands are clearly and separately analyzed in order to provide a sound foundation in fact for developing policies and practices to enhance their
contribution to meeting our net-zero carbon emissions goals. This bill would also ensure that land-based carbon accumulation in Massachusetts is not counted twice, here and somewhere else. This would
prevent "double dipping" and provide an accurate picture of the extent to which Massachusetts lands balance Massachusetts carbon emissions.
Find the bill here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H895
In the news- Massachusetts state land logging moratorium petition
delivered to Governor Charlie Baker
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Pre-eminent Biologist E.O. Wilson Supported
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
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