Open Space Committees

Open Space Committees

As a trusted, local source of information, Open Space Committees (OSCs) stand in an excellent position to help increase the pace of land protection in their community.  In fact, perhaps the most effective role for OSCs may be helping their neighbors make informed decisions about the future of their land by getting them timely information and contacts when they are making decisions.  This role complements the work of land trusts and state conservation agencies who can then provide the necessary expertise to help interested landowners conserve their land.

On this page:

 

Upcoming Events:

Below is a list of upcoming events specifically designed for Open Space Committee members, natural resource professionals, and conservation advocates. 

There are no upcoming events at this time

Open Space Handbook:

We are pleased to announce the Open Space Handbook as a new resource for community conservation in Massachusetts. Click here to view and download the publication.

 

New Study Demonstrates Economic Contributions from Conserved Forests:

The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is administered by the USDA Forest Service to protect historic forest uses and intact working forest landscapes. This study (2021) quantified economic activities on FLP land in four areas to assess how these activities contribute to the economy of the multistate region in which the projects are located. The substantial economic contribution in natural resource industries suggests that permanent protection of forests provides economic and cultural benefits in perpetuity. This information illustrates the contributions of FLP to local economies and can be used to assess the value of the program and the potential for future funding. Click here to read the full journal article.

 

Grant Opportunities

Landscape Partnership Grant Program: The Landscape Partnership grant program aims to protect larger areas of conservation land. Towns with less than 6,000 residents may also use this grant to build a park or playground. Applications must be jointly submitted by at least two of the following groups: municipality, non-municipal public water supplier, 501(c)(3) non-profit, government agency. For more information: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/landscape-partnership-grant-program

LAND Grant Program: The Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant program helps municipalities acquire conservation and recreation land by reimbursement for acquisition in fee or conservation restrictions. For more information: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/local-acquisitions-for-natural-diversity-land-grant-program

Neighborhood Outreach Grant: The working forest initiative is sponsoring grant funding for projects to implement “neighborhood-based outreach” to landowners on conservation-based estate planning, including land protection options. The goal of this project is to use social networks to help inform landowner decisions about the future of their land. Learn more about this grant and read the 2021-2022 RFP: Neighborhood-Outreach-RFP-2021.pdf

 

Open Space Plans

Community Preservation Act: The CPA helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. The CPA is funded through a local option surcharge on property tax bills and a state match or those surcharges. For more information, see the Community Preservation Coalition: https://www.communitypreservation.org/

Cost of Community Services: Land protection and conservation have impacts beyond those directly involved with the conservation and it is important for communities to better understand how conservation and land protection impact things like taxes and town finances, economic growth and sustainability, and community health. See the following resources for more information: https://masswoods.org/communityconservation

 

Conservation Programs

Chapter 61 Current Use Tax Programs: The three Chapter 61 programs assess land at its current use (forest, agriculture, open space/recreation) as opposed to its development value and provides tax breaks if enrolled. For more information: https://masswoods.org/landowner-programs/chapter-61-current-use-tax-programs

Town’s Right of First Refusal: Landowners entering one of the Chapter 61 programs agree to maintain the use of the land in a way consistent with their chosen program. However, if a landowner wants to sell their land or change its use a town may exercise their right of first refusal to buy the land or may transfer the right of first refusal to an eligible conservation organization. For more information: https://masswoods.org/landowner-programs/chapter-61-current-use-tax-programs

 

Mapping Resources:

MassGIS OLIVER Mapping Tool: http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/map_ol/oliver.php

 

Solar Citing:

Large-scale solar installations have become a topic of interest for many towns in the state. Open Space Committees have the ability to put plans into place to support the wants of their town. See the attached link for a resource on this important issue: https://www.landtrustalliance.org/news/harnessing-power-sun