Public Lands Preservation Act
Thursday November 17, 2022
The Public Lands Preservation Act is a bill that is set to protect undeveloped open and green spaces in our state. The process this bill protects these lands is by ensuring that any disposition or change in use of lands by a municipality will need to replaced with land of comparable acreage, location, and natural resource value, i.e., no net loss. The PLPA has made it's way to the Governor's desk, but there are some opposing groups telling the Governor not to sign the bill saying it would increase the workload burdens of our municipality. Help us send a message that we support this bill for preserving public lands which we access. Sample language is provided below. Just Cut & paste in a new email, or edit as needed to make the email your own.
Send the email to: Katherine Holahan, Governor Baker’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs: firstname.lastname@example.org
More Reading on PLPA
PUBLIC LANDS PRESERVATION ACT
Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge (Acton) and Representative Ruth Balser (Newton)
The Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA) would further the long-standing goal of preventing the loss of constitutionally protected public parks, conservation land, forests, watersheds and other natural resource lands (Article 97 lands). These lands provide us all with more and better water, recreation, habitat for our diverse species of plants and wildlife, scenic amenities, a robust tourism industry, and a strong economy. They also play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating impacts of climate change.
What the PLPA would do
The PLPA requires that a municipality or state agency proposing disposition of or change in use of any lands or easements acquired for natural resource purposes (Article 97 land):
• Provide replacement land of comparable acreage, location, and natural resource value, i.e., no net loss.
• Notify the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and provide information that would allow the Secretary to assess the need for the disposition or change in use, the availability of feasible alternatives, and the suitability of the replacement land being provided, and to make a recommendation on the proposed disposition or change in use.
The Secretary could waive the requirement for replacement land when a disposition or change in use would not change or would promote the Article 97 purposes and protection of the land, or to deal with defined special circumstances: easements for five years or less for another use, provided the land be restored at the end of the period; subterranean green energy projects; parcels of 2,500 square feet or less; and erosion control.
Changes in the PLPA
Revisions have been made in the PLPA to address concerns of legislators and others. The bill, rather than attempting to establish legislative policy, as before, now provides direction to the municipality or state agency seeking to change the use or otherwise dispose of Article 97 lands or easements. The bill also formalizes the current process EOEEA uses to vet any proposed change or disposition, requires early notification of EOEEA to facilitate the process, and requires EOEEA to make recommendations to the legislature.