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Conservation News

Big News:  Permanent Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is on the move in the Senate

We have our best opportunity ever to secure permanent funding for this critical source of money for preserving natural, cultural, and recreational resources for ourseleves and future generations. See current initiatives tab for more details.

 

Old Growth Forest Protection

Now is our chance to save the remaining old growth Forests in Massachusetts. A bill to protect old growth forest on state lands [ https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S485 ] is on the move in our state legislature. If you believe we should protect our last remaining old growth forests on state lands please contact your state senator and urge her/him to call for a favorable finding on bill S.485 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee and passage by the senate. This would be especially helpful if your senator is on the Ways and Means Committee [ see https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/S30].

Help Wanted

The chapter conservation committee is looking to chapter members to warn us of threats to trail corridors, scenic vistas, and vital ecosystems. Whether it's development, inappropriate resource managemnt, invasive species, etc.  that poses the threat, the chapter cannot help if it desn't know. If you are aware of an issue please contact conservation@amcberkshire.org

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Conservation News

Current Conservation Initiatives

Today's Most Urgent Conservation Issues:

Help put solar power where it belongs

 

 

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DoER) operates a SMART ( Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) program to encourage development of solar power by offering payments in addition to market rates for solar generated electric power. The initial program was for 1600 MW and was deeply flawed, resulting in many projects being located on undeveloped forests and fields. DoER has issued rules for a further 1600MW of solar power capacity to receive higher than market payments for electricity. While the new rules contain several improvements over the rules covering the original 1600MW program, there are still serious deficiencies. The new rates still will result in too many projects being located in forests and on greenfields rather than already developed areas. 

For more on this go to https://www.outdoors.org/conservation-action-network/ma-solar

 or email a message todoer.smart@mass.gov doer with "Comments on SMART 4/15/20 Regulations" as the subject before 5/22/20. Also please send a copy to conservation@amcberkshire.org.

There are three major points that should be addressed.

>Tariffs ( the rate received by solar generating unit owners) paid to units in forests and greenfields need to be reduced further to discourage deforestation for solar panel installation.

> Solar developments should be prohibited in priority and core habitats and critical natural landscapes as well protected lands for both public entity as well as privately owned projects.

> Tariffs paid to units located on existing buildings, over pavements, on brownfields, on previously developed sites need to be increased to direct solar power developments to where their benefits will be greatest.

 

 

 

Permanent funding for LWCF is moving in the Senate! The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the most important source of funding for conservation land acquisition in the nation. This Federal program, funded with the proceeds from offshore leases, has provided billions of dollars for  wild and recreational lands around the country, including many millions of dollars in Massachusetts. However until now it's funding is always in jeopardy, but now

Permanent funding for LWCF is moving in the Senate!

Would you write four quick email messages to help protect threatened hiking, paddling, and climbing areas?

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) played a key role in preserving hundreds of thousands of acres of the land we love. We now have a chance to secure permanent funding for the LWCF so it will be available to help purchase and other important conservation lands. The US Senate will soon be considering S.3422 – Great American Outdoors Act) which will secure permanent funding for the LWCF and fund a huge backlog of projects to improve recreation in our national parks, forests, and monuments. We need you to make your voices heard to help this bill pass! (Learn more about the Act at this link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3422/text and https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/blog/2020/3/24/lwcf-policy-update-march-2020.

It is easy to help. All it takes is four quick email messages. Trust us, these messages are read, noticed, and have impact.

Senators Markey and Warren of Massachusetts, and Senator Collins of Maine have all become co-sponsors of this bill. Let’s make sure all three of them know how much this bill matters to us. Here’s what we want you to do: compose and send a brief message to the contacts (addresses listed below) for Senators Markey, Warren and Collins. Here is some text you can use, but feel free to edit to taste.

“My name is [your name], and I live in [city, state]. I am an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I want to thank you for co-sponsoring Senate Bill S.3422, the Great American Outdoor Act. I consider the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to be essential for conserving land, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities in the Northeast. I urge you to do all you can to secure passage of this measure.”

Send your messages to these addresses:

 

 

Three down, one to go!

Action in the U.S. House of Representatives is also needed to prevent the loss of our beloved natural and cultural resources, and truly fulfill the promise of the LWCF. We must get our legislators to bring key legislation to a floor vote in the House as well as the Senate. Here is another action you can take today: send a message to your House Representative (see list below). Here is some proposed text:

“My name is [your name], and I live in [city, state]. I am an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I consider the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to be essential for conserving land, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities in the Northeast. I urge you to request Speaker Pelosi to bring permanent funding for the LWCF to a vote. Please do all you can to see that this vote takes place, helping to secure more of our natural, cultural, and recreational resources for now and for generations to come.”

If you live in in Congressional District 1:

If you live in Congressional District 2:

 

You are done! Thank you for helping support the LWCF!

Questions? Contact Robert Cherdack, Berkshire Chapter Conservation Chair, via email at conservation@amcberkshire.org

 

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Old Growth Forest Protection

Now is our chance to save the remaining old growth Forests in Massachusetts. A bill to protect old growth forest on state lands [ https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S485 ] is on the move in our state legislature. If you believe we should protect our last remaining old growth forests on state lands please contact your state senator and urge her/him to call for a favorable finding on bill S.485 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee and passage by the senate. This would be especially helpful if your senator is on the Ways and Means Committee [ see https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/S30].

 

More Information

This bill provides much-needed permanent protection for the last stands of ancient trees found on state lands.

Old-growth forests are extremely rare, and serve as "living laboratories" where students, scientists, and the public can learn more about forest development, tree genetics and climate change. Although 3 million of Massachusetts' 5 million acres are forested, only 1,500 acres of this land is original old-growth forest.

These ancient groves are scattered throughout the state in small patches, with most on the steep mountainsides of Western Massachusetts managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The value of these rapidly disappearing old-growth forests to people and wildlife is immeasurable; in forests that have not been disturbed for hundreds of years, canopy layers and fallen trees create rich and diverse habitats for many species of birds, insects and reptiles. These areas also act as carbon sinks– helping to sequester global warming gases.

Currently, old-growth forests in Massachusetts are not lawfully protected from timber cutting, only by policy that could change at any time.

This bill would:

  • Protect old-growth forests from logging and development by establishing a system of permanent old-growth forest reserves on state lands.
  • Require an inventory of the forests on state-owned land to determine the extent and condition of old-growth forest stands and their surrounding landscapes.
  • Include an assessment and selection of future old-growth forest areas that exhibit characteristics which, if left undisturbed, would meet the definition of an old-growth forest.
  • Prohibit new development, new or expanded recreational facilities, and commercial timber cutting in old-growth forest.
  • Establish a research and education program to monitor the status and promote understanding of old-growth forest reserves.

MA Old Growth Forest Bill Fact Sheet 

For another urgent matter see https://www.outdoors.org/conservation-action-network/rollback-climate-regulations 

 

Up coming Issues: - What can we do to preserve the Endangered Species Act?

                                 - Putting solar power installations where they do the most good

 

For comments, questions, offers to help, contact: conservation@amcberkshire.org

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Conservation News

Big News:  Permanent Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is on the move in the Senate

We have our best opportunity ever to secure permanent funding for this critical source of money for preserving natural, cultural, and recreational resources for ourseleves and future generations. See current initiatives tab for more details.

 

Old Growth Forest Protection

Now is our chance to save the remaining old growth Forests in Massachusetts. A bill to protect old growth forest on state lands [ https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S485 ] is on the move in our state legislature. If you believe we should protect our last remaining old growth forests on state lands please contact your state senator and urge her/him to call for a favorable finding on bill S.485 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee and passage by the senate. This would be especially helpful if your senator is on the Ways and Means Committee [ see https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/S30].

Help Wanted

The chapter conservation committee is looking to chapter members to warn us of threats to trail corridors, scenic vistas, and vital ecosystems. Whether it's development, inappropriate resource managemnt, invasive species, etc.  that poses the threat, the chapter cannot help if it desn't know. If you are aware of an issue please contact conservation@amcberkshire.org

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CANCELED: 50th Earth Year Kick-off Event with Naturalist and Radio Host Laurie Sanders

Effective 3/12/2020, "A Call to Action and Celebration of Biodiversity" is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please stay safe and follow all guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Date: 
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 6:00pm
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Senate Passes Land and Water Conservation Legislation

On February 12th, the United States Senate voted 92 to 8 to pass legislation that included permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund ( LWCF). The LWCF, which is supported by a share of the income the federal government receives from off-shore oil and other leases, is the principal source of federal funds for land acquisition for parks and reserves as well as  for recreational developments. It had been in place for more than fifty years before it was allowed to expire last fall. The Senate vote for authorization was a top priority for the AMC and a host of other conservation and outdoor recreation organizations. The funding can be used at the federal, state, or local levels.

The next step in the process is for the House of Representatives to approve the measure, which appears near certain considering the very broad support the measure has in the House. Indications are that the President will sign the measure when it reaches his desk.

While authorization represents major progress, it takes an appropriation to make the funds available. The LWCF had been authorized at $900 million for years, but the funds actually appropriated each year have averaged less than half of that, so stand by to help in a major push for LWCF dedicated funding legislation, so that we ensure the full amount that goes into the fund is spent on conservation.

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Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Clean Power Plan Initiatives

Conservation is one of three important pillars at the AMC, next to recreation and education. The AMC is involved in a number of conservation initiatives from DC to Maine. Two pressing conservation initiatives for the AMC involve land conservation and clean air. Read more about these issues below and find out how you can get involved.

For fifty years the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been the country's principal source of federal funds for public land acquisition. It has supplied billions of dollars for national and state parks and other public lands as well as for park infrastructure, including a $100 million for Massachusetts. The fund was originally established in 1965 but is set to expire in September 2018. It is vital for conservation of critical natural resources that our legislators become champions for its permanent renewal. For more information see https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/lwcf52weeks/    and     http://www.outdoors.org/articles/blogs/conservation/savelwcf/ 
 

The Trump administration proposes eliminating the Clean Power Plan, which was put in place in 2015 to reduce emissions of greenhouse and other pollutants from power plants.  The comment period for this change in  EPA regulations ends on 12/15/17.  Comments are needed in support of keeping the Plan in place.  See http://www.outdoors.org/articles/blogs/conservation/clean-power-plan-rep...  and https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355-0002 
 

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