As we begin 2023, we take a look back at some of the major accomplishments achieved in 2022, and what these milestones will mean for our staff, our members, and our Commonwealth.
Public Lands Protection Act
Following more than 20 years of advocacy from a coalition of land conservation and environmental organizations, the Public Lands Protection Act (PLPA) passed on November 17, signed into law by Governor Baker. The PLPA will strengthen existing safeguards to preserve public open space in the Commonwealth. Currently, under a policy known as “No Net Loss,” open space converted to a different use—but protected under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution—must be replaced with land of equivalent financial and natural resource value. The PLPA strengthens this policy by:
- Codifying into law an existing administrative process that requires replacement of public parks and conservation land that are converted to a different use.
- Providing transparency and accountability in the limited cases when cash payments are allowed in lieu of contemporaneously designating replacement land to be conserved.
- Requiring that any cash payments be expended on comparable replacement land within 3 years.
The PLPA will benefit the communities across Massachusetts and speaks to the heart of The Trustees founding 130 years ago, to ‘preserve these scenes of natural beauty which, by great good fortune, still exist near [our] doors’.
In addition to providing more transparency and formality to the process of replacing developed public land, the PLPA also helps to protect Environmental Justice communities that lack adequate open spaces, by strengthening safeguards for dwindling natural areas that can help to cool urban heat islands, absorb excess rainwater, improve local outdoor recreation, enhance public wellness, and improve quality of life.
To learn more about PLPA, click here.
Statewide Funding for Land Conservation and Ecological Restoration
Significant investments made by state legislative leaders as part of a final package on economic development and relief will help to support physical health and well-being, mental health, natural systems, and climate resilience. The package was signed into law by Governor Baker in November. The Trustees is particularly grateful for $175 million for statewide land conservation, parks, trails, farms, waterfront parks and ecological restoration including for coastal wetlands and salt marsh. Of this funding, $75 million is dedicated for land conservation, parks, trails and ecological restoration to benefit Environmental Justice communities.
Office of Outdoor Recreation
A new Office of Outdoor Recreation has been created within the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to support and stimulate the statewide outdoor recreation economy. Massachusetts is now the 18th state to create such an entity and following four years of advocacy on behalf of its creation, The Trustees stand ready to partner with the Healey-Driscoll Administration to help grow the new office to increase and improve outdoor experiences for all Massachusetts residents and visitors.
To learn more, click here.
Arts and Culture
The Trustees also supported $23.4 million for arts and culture investments. Of that amount, $22.5 million is for Mass Cultural Council grants and operations which is a 12% increase from last year’s budget – an important milestone for our advocacy efforts. Additionally, $25,000 in public funds was secured by Senator Diana DiZoglio to support The Trustees Stevens-Coolidge House in North Andover to repair the historic cedar roof.
Outdoor Cities & Urban Conservation
The Trustees received $2 million in federal funding for the future Piers Park III in East Boston, in an effort led by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Ed Markey. They were joined in their support to secure the Congressional Directed Spending funding by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. The award was included in the federal budget signed by President Biden in March 2022. Additionally, The Trustees received $2 million in state American Rescue Plan Act funds through an economic development spending package signed into law by Governor Baker in November. We are grateful to the leadership of state Representative Adrian Madaro and state Senator Lydia Edwards for securing this state earmark to support this critical project that will support their East Boston constituents and visitors from Greater Boston and beyond.
To learn more, click here.
The Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) funding also saw significant investments. In the FY22 budget the state allocated $13 million for HIP, and in FY23 the amount allocated by the state has nearly doubled, to a total of $24 million. The Trustees Mobile Market, which brings fresh locally grown food to neighborhoods in Boston, largely follows HIP Community Supported Agriculture model for households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
To learn more, click here.
Community Preservation Act
Governor Baker also approved $20 million in supplemental funds from the FY22 state operating budget for the statewide Community Preservation Act (CPA) Trust Fund. Trust funds are provided to cities and towns that have adopted CPA. The Trustees is a strong supporter of CPA, and we supported local ballot measure campaigns in cities and towns that have not yet adopted CPA. So far, CPA has been adopted in 194 cities and towns and has generated $2.65 billion for community preservation funding statewide, helping to conserve over 34,200 acres of open space, 6,700 appropriations for historic preservation projects, and for 3,300 outdoor recreation projects – including Trustees initiatives.
Last spring, Governor Baker signed into law a $11+ billion Transportation and Infrastructure Bond Bill to support infrastructure improvements. These bonds will provide matching funds for the $9+ billion in federal money coming to Massachusetts for infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years, and will be used to invest in public transit, water and sewer, roads and bridges, affordable housing and clean energy. The Trustees secured a $2.5 million state earmark for the Town of Ipswich’s Argilla Road climate resilient/transportation project in Ipswich. The project is working to make the coastal road more resilient to sea level rise and storm surge and could serve as a model for other coastal roads in the state.
This year, The Trustees again supported the efforts of the Massachusetts Green Budget Coalition, and other key agencies and programs. Here are a few highlights from the final FY23 $52.7 billion state operating budget:
- The Department of Conservation and Recreation state parks received approximately $10 million more, year over year, in their operating budget
- The relatively new Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Environmental Justice initiative received $1.33 million in state funding in FY23, up from $1.3 million in FY22; and the EEA climate initiative jumped from $2.2 million in FY22 to $5.42 million in FY23.
- The Department of Environmental Protection’s budget increased from $33.4 million to $45 million.
- Division of Ecological Restoration from $3.25 to $4.25 million.
|FY22||FY23 Green Budget Request|
|Division of Ecological Restoration||$3,250,000||$4,000,000|
|DCR Parks and Rec||$50,500,000||$83,000,000|
|EEA Environmental Justice||Not its own line item in FY22||$1,300,000|
“We are so grateful for the collaboration and support of our colleagues, non-profit partner organizations, and state and federal lawmakers who work tirelessly on behalf of constituents around the state,” says Linda Orel, Trustees Senior Director of Government Relations. “Looking back at 2022, it has been a year of progress toward a greener, healthier, and more resilient and equitable Massachusetts, and we look forward to pushing for even greater strides in 2023.”