Support for Massachusetts House Bills 912 and 1002

Sen. Rebecca Rausch, Senate Chair and Rep. Carolyn Dykema, House Chair; cc: Rep. Ronald Mariano, Speaker of the House, Sen, Karen. E. Spilka, President of the Senate, Gov. Charlie Baker

Climate scientists and conservation biologists warn that 30% of the Earth needs to be protected from resource extraction and development by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change, prevent massive plant and animal extinctions, and benefit public health and well-being. Less than 2% of Massachusetts’ lands have permanent protection. This number would be increased to 10% of the state’s land base with the addition of new reserves under H.912 and H.1002 — a major contribution toward vital regional, national, and global efforts.

The urgency of this action has been recognized by Dr. Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University, one of the world’s most prominent biologists. He has written that this legislative effort for Massachusetts’ public lands, “[which reach] from the Berkshires to the Atlantic Coast…is the single most important action the people of the state can take to preserve our natural heritage.”

In June 2017, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. One of the Alliance’s major objectives is to “increase carbon stored in forest ecosystems and reduce losses of already-stored carbon.” The passage of H.912 and H.1002 would be a significant step in furthering this objective endorsed by Governor Baker as well as the goals of visionary laws such as the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act and the 2021 Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy Act.

As it has many times in the past, Massachusetts can provide leadership to inspire other states across the country to take similar bold action to safeguard our climate, the diversity of life, and the health and well-being of our people.

For more information contact:
Save Massachusetts Forests

A project of:
RESTORE: The North Woods
P.O. Box 1099
Concord, MA 01742

Sponsored by

To: Sen. Rebecca Rausch, Senate Chair and Rep. Carolyn Dykema, House Chair; cc: Rep. Ronald Mariano, Speaker of the House, Sen, Karen. E. Spilka, President of the Senate, Gov. Charlie Baker
From: [Your Name]

Dear Senator Rausch and Representative Dykema,

Two bills introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature would make the state a leader in protecting state-owned lands as parks and reserves, where natural processes are allowed to proceed with minimal human management, similar to the stewardship of our National Parks.

• H.912, An Act Relative to Forest Protection, sponsored by Representative Michael Finn, would designate all 412,000 acres of park, forest, and watershed lands administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as parks or reserves. It would expand the existing system of parks and reserves on these public lands and make this protection permanent.

• H.1002, An Act Relative to Increased Protection of Wildlife Management Areas, sponsored by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa, would expand and make permanent the existing system of reserves on public Wildlife Management Areas administered by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. It would direct the designation by 2030 of at least 30%, or about 51,000 acres, of the agency’s lands, consistent with the latest biological and climate science, and would give these areas permanent protection.
Together, these bills would permanently preserve 8.5% of the land base and 14% of forested lands in Massachusetts, which would:

• fight climate change by allowing forests to grow back and keeping them standing so they can maximize carbon removal from the atmosphere and optimize long-term carbon storage;

• preserve large, contiguous tracts of forest, water, and wetlands that sustain the full range of native diversity, which are best provided on our public lands;

• provide public benefits such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and economic diversification;

• contribute to the mitigation of climate change impacts for all Massachusetts residents, including environmental justice communities, which are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts, coastal areas facing sea-level rise, and urban centers that depend on intact watersheds for drinking water.

The bills would also allow the management flexibility needed to address public health, safety, environmental, and other concerns. Moreover, they would require little or no increased funding to the agencies for implementation.

Please ensure the passage of these bills.