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Senate passes Environmental Bond Bill - Downing secures $15 Million for local parks & projects
July 10, 2014

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a $1.9 Billion, 4-year Environmental Bond Bill providing for the preservation and improvement of land, parks and clean energy in the Commonwealth,State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announced.
 
“This bill represents our continued commitment in promoting the highest environmental standards all across the Commonwealth and will make significant improvements in our communities,” said Downing. These are necessary investments to ensure the health of our communities for years to come.”
 
Due to Downing’s advocacy, the Senate’s Environmental Bond Bill includes $15 Million in capital spending authorizations for the following local projects:
 
  • $8,775,000 for the design and construction of Phase 1 of the Hoosic River Restoration Project in North Adams;
  • $5 Million for the construction of the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center in Adams;
  • $1,100,000 for a grant to the City of Pittsfield to improve drainage and redirect run-off to vernal pools and wetlands as part of the completion of the multi-purpose turf facility at Berkshire Community College;
  • $125,000 for the final phase restoration of Baker’s Pond at Kennedy Park in Lenox; and
  • The approval to spend funds on the improvement and expansion of Pittsfield’s historic Wahconah Park. 

The Senate’s Environmental Bond also includes: 

  • $10 million for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for general improvements and replacements to infrastructure;
  • $1.625 million for a conservation district grant program;
  • $75.4 million for the Department of Environmental Protection for investment in water and air quality protection;
  • $4 million to restore fresh water aquatic fisheries;
  • $20 million for the design, construction, reconstruction, repair or removal of state-owned dams;
  • $68.9 million for the design, construction, reconstruction, improvement or rehabilitation of coastal and inland waterways projects;
  • $20 million for the dredging of coastal public harbors;
  • $57.5 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for acquisition of land and interests in land;
  • $10 million for the design, construction, reconstruction, repair, improvement, or rehabilitation of flood control facilities and water resource protection related facilities;
  • $10.1 million for watershed protection and rehabilitation and technical assistance grants for the removal of aquatic invasive plants;
  • $10 million for the Department of Energy and Resources’ Leading by Example Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts;
  • $5 million for a matching grant program for the repair, construction, and modernization of equipment and capital improvements of marine industrial infrastructure located in designated port areas or maritime industrial zones;
  • $28.6 million for the design, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair or removal of municipally-owned dams and for inland-flood control projects;
  • $10 million for the Department of Agricultural Resources for the agricultural preservation restriction program;
  • $1.5 million for the Department of Agricultural Resources for the agricultural environmental enhancement program for the abatement of all forms of pollution generated from agricultural activities;
  • $129 million for coastal facilities improvements in designated and non-designated port areas;
  • $22.5 million for integrated energy and environmental projects;
  • $20 million for the acquisition of open space, recreation, and conservation land;
  • $50.875 million for the purpose of a forestry and tree planting program;
  • $30.350 million for the improvement of recreational opportunities and ecological integrity protection;
  • $3 million for oil or hazardous waste assessment, containment, cleanup, control, removal, or response;
  • $20 million for the Department of Fish and Game for the acquisition of land to protect native flora and fauna communities;
  • $1 million for conserving and recovering rare and endangered plant and animal species
  • $3.4 million for upland habitat management of forestlands, shrub lands, and grasslands;
  • $160 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the design, construction, reconstruction, removal, improvement, or rehabilitation of department reservations, forests, parks, harbor islands, and other recreational facilities;
  • $5 million for recreational trails matching grants;
  • $80.7 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation parkways, boulevards, multi-use trails, internal state park roads and recreational trails;
  • $310 million for the accelerated energy program to improve the energy efficiency of state-owned facilities; and
  • $120 million for the design, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or removal of coastal infrastructure.
 
In addition, the capital plan:
 
  • Establishes the Climate Change Adaptation Infrastructure Investment Fund for projects related to seawalls, jetties, revetments, retaining walls, and inland flood control;
  • Adds state agencies and authorities to the municipal street lighting program to add to cost savings for the Commonwealth;
  • Updates the conservation partnership grant created in the 2008 environmental bond bill;
  • Permits the Department of Fish and Game to purchase conservation restrictions and easements;
  • Requires the Executive Office of Administration & Finance to submit reports to the legislature detailing the progress on projects funded by this act, noting both the anticipated and actual spending
  • Requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation to identify areas in which deer overpopulation is negatively impacting forestation, water resources, or plant growth on department-owned land and to develop a plan to cull deer herds by October 1, 2014;
  • Requires that any agency that acquires land protected by Article 97 must obtain the approval of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs prior to implementing any prohibition on fishing, hunting, or trapping; and
  • Requires the State Treasurer to annually issue guidance to state agencies on the issuance of “green bonds.”
 
The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the Governor.
 
 
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