Part 2Celebrating the protection of state’s open space


Last week, I mentioned that there were five speakers at the Maple Hill Celebration which took place on October 29. In addition to Energy and Environmental Secretary Sullivan and Division of Fish & Game Commissioner Griffin the following people spoke:

Narain Schroeder, Director of Land Conservation for Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) spoke of its conservation partnership with DFW/DFG. To stress his point, he pointed to Mt Greylock and nearby FlatBrook WMA to the north, the Taconic Range to the west, the 900 acre Alford Springs Reserve and the Alford Valley with the state’s APR protection program further south and the Maple Hill WMA to the east. “ In our county there is a tradition of conservation that runs deep. We are lucky to have a governor and citizenry that values conservation. It is a privilege to work with and for these folks.”

To help explain how DFW/DFG reached the 200,000 acres of conserved land, DFW Director Wayne MacCallum spoke about the Division’s history of its land conservation program. In the 1950’s funds for land acquisition came out of license fees which were paid by the hunters, fishermen and trappers or through the excise fees collected and administered by the US Fish & Wildlife. They were to be used solely for conservation of state fisheries and wildlife. Back then approximately 13,000 acres had been acquired.

In 1968 sportsmen lobbied for a 25% increase in license fees with a dollar to be charged specifically for land acquisition. In doing that, the state was supposed to match those funds dollar for dollar. It never happened, but it did provided the ability for the state to take out a 20 year $5 million bond to purchase property.

In 1984 Governor Dukakis passed the first bond issue targeted for acquisition of wildlife conservation land. In 1988 there was another one.

In 1990 the sporting community advocated for a tax on themselves with a $5 fee (called the Wildlife Conservation Stamp), to be added to their hunting and fishing license fee. It was to provide a stable stream of monies for land acquisition. The State started bond issues which matched the monies coming in from the land stamp.

Also, a significant amount of money comes out of the Federal aid program. Also, the North American Conservation Act (excise tax monies) provides a significant amount of monies to MA for land protection. All of this comes out of the pockets of hunters, fishermen and trappers. In addition, funds come in through the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation which is managed by a separate board and is not part of DFW/DFG funds.

According to MacCallum, fishing and hunting generates $1.5 billion directly to the economy of MA, indirectly almost double that amount.

Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George (Gige) Darey of Lenox. thanked the Patrick Administration for its conservation efforts. “I’ve been around a long time but never has there been an administration that put so much land into conservation”, he said. In addition to the various agencies, a lot of people were involved in the conservation movement: John Drummond Kennedy (Kennedy Park acquisition), George Wislocki former executive director of the BNRC (Post Farm acquisition). Green Berkshires and Eleanor Tillinghast (who led the way in getting the ACEC near Woods Pond on the Housatonic River, MassAudubon and others. He specifically mentioned Charles Liston of Lenoxdale., who was a surveyor for the state. It was him who tipped off Darey and Wislocki about land along the Housatonic River. He provided them with a map listing all of the pieces of property and who owned them. The State ultimately purchased it and it became the Housatonic Wildlife Management Area.

Darey also mentioned Attorney Sarah (Sally) Bell who did a lot of pro bono work for the DFW, HVA and the Town of Lenox. “People have no idea of the impact that she had – nobody ever knew about it”. He mentioned several others who also made significant contributions to land conservation. He mentioned the “Guns and Roses” coalition where sportsmen and conservationists united to help push for bond bills, river bills, etc. “Our natural beauty in Berkshire County is one of our greatest selling points” “We have just about everything we want here and this natural beauty is one of the things we have to preserve”. *****
A NRA Basic Pistol Course will be held on November 18 and 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association. . It is an introduction to the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for owning and using a pistol safely. It gives information regarding pistol parts and operation, ammunition, gun safety, pistol shooting fundamentals, and pistol shooting activities. These are 2 mandatory sessions. Successful completion of the class qualifies one to apply for a MA LTC Class A or FID. Contact Larry Karlquist at 442-7807 or gramps@berkshire.rr.com. *****-
The MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has scheduled 5 public hearings statewide regarding the adoption of a new CMR which will regulate what the public can do while visiting DCR park and recreational facilities. The closest hearing location to us is The Notch Visitors Center, Mount Holyoke Range State Park, 1500 West Street (Rte. 116), Amherst. It will be held on Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 P.M.
The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen and GOAL urge sportsmen to attend this meeting or, at a minimum, submit a letter to DCR expressing their concerns.
Verbal and written testimony may be presented at the public hearing. Written comments will be accepted beginning November 4 until 5:00 PM on Friday, December 6. Submit written comments to Laura Dietz via mail to DCR, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA. 02114 or via e-mail: regs.comments@state.ma.us

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