Joint Statement in Support of the Massachusetts Public Lands Preservation Act
Michael P. O'Connor
A group of land conservation and environmental organizations including Mass Audubon advocating on behalf of An Act preserving open space in the Commonwealth, also known as the Public Lands Preservation Act (or PLPA), issued the following statement upon conclusion of the formal 2021-2022 legislative session:
“We are disappointed that the Conference Committee did not resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the PLPA before Sunday’s session deadline. We call on the members of the Committee to continue working towards an agreement that can pass the Legislature during an informal session this year.
The PLPA was first introduced more than 20 years ago to strengthen the Commonwealth’s long-standing “No Net Loss” policy, which calls for any public open space converted to a different use be replaced with land of equivalent natural resource value.
Though not provided for in the policy, in a number of instances, the Legislature has allowed cash payments in lieu of replacement conservation land, often without sufficient transparency and accountability to ensure the purposes of Article 97 of the State Constitution were met. The Legislature can remedy that now by ensuring the PLPA includes strong and specific constraints on the ability to set aside cash in lieu of replacement land.
We urge lawmakers to finalize this important legislation this year, crafting a bill that is true to the intent of Article 97, enhances transparency and accountability in the administration of the No Net Loss policy and, most of all, honors the public demand to protect precious parks and conservation land.”
Robb Johnson, Executive Director
Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition
Heidi Ricci, Director of Policy and Advocacy
Linda Orel, Policy Director
Steve Long, Director of Policy and Partnerships
The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts
Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director
Clean Water Action
Dorothy A. McGlincy, Executive Director
Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions
Doug Pizzi, Executive Director
Massachusetts Conservation Voters
Deb Pasternak, State Director
Sierra Club Massachusetts
Emily Norton, Executive Director
Charles River Watershed Association
Heather Clish, Sr. Director Conservation & Recreation Policy
Appalachian Mountain Club
Casey Bowers, AVP of Government Relations
Environmental League of Massachusetts
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.