Updated December 14, 2021
In March 2021, Congress sent over $5.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to invest in our economic recovery, jobs, and sustainability. The Trustees is grateful to state legislators and the Baker Administration for passing a new law that provides significant ARPA funding to support conservation, restoration, and parks and to help Massachusetts communities become more resilient to climate change impacts. We are also pleased to see major investments in cultural institutions that were hard hit during the pandemic. The state recently invested about half of these ARPA funds, and we have more work ahead of us. For now, we’re grateful for:
- $100 million for environmental infrastructure for the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, and to protect and restore wetlands and habitat; improve soil health on farms and in forests; and remove dams and replace culverts to improve streamflow and connectivity and enhance freshwater habitat.
- $25 million to plant trees on public, private, and nonprofit lands to sequester and store carbon, manage stormwater, reduce urban flooding, while insulating homes thereby creating lower energy demand and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- $15 million to conserve forests, wetlands, farms, and other natural resources and improve state parks; including grants to nonprofits to create new outdoor recreational opportunities, especially in urban areas, and to benefit those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- $14 million for agricultural needs including improving soil health and increasing carbon sequestration and resilience on farms.
- $10 million for the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund. These funds are important to CPA cities and towns for land conservation, restoration, parks, historic preservation, and affordable housing.
- $7.5 million for green workforce development and training at community colleges.
The legislature also invested over $134 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to provide grants to cultural institutions and the arts.
The Trustees and our partners worked fervently to ensure these priorities were included in the state’s first ARPA spending package. We applaud legislators and the governor for making sure environmental justice communities are given priority consideration for funding, as these neighborhoods have been disproportionately impacted by air and water pollution and were often hardest hit by COVID-19. We are also relieved lawmakers incorporated language authored by The Trustees that includes nonprofit partners as eligible grantees for environmental infrastructure grants — as nonprofits are key partners to state and local and bring enhanced capacity and expertise to nature-based projects.
These landmark American Rescue Plan investments in land, water, and climate are critical to protecting Massachusetts communities, advancing a green recovery, and ensuring a resilient future.