Monday, May 18, 2009

Mass. Gains Ground In Conservation

Ironically, a periodic report entitled "Losing Ground" has welcome news for those concerned about land, water, and wildlife in Massachusetts. The report is issued every five years by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and usually it contains depressing news about the march of low-density development across the beautiful Massachusetts landscape.

Mass. Audubon Director of Public Policy Jack Clarke discussed the latest report with Bob Oakes of WBUR on May 18. It reveals that the concerted efforts of land trusts, conservation commissions, and state agencies have had a very positive effect. For the first time, more land has been set aside for conservation than has been developed for building.

The findings are not, however, uniformly optimistic. The report does not contradict the dire concerns raised by the Woods Hole Research Center's "Critical Mass" report, which discusses the rapid loss of open space in my part of the state. The Mass. Audubon report also raises concerns about the region surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir, where two-acre zoning and growing land values could lead to very rapid transformations of the fields and forests of that region, with serious implications for water and wildlife.

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