Massachusetts Senate Invests in Environmental Protection, with Senator Lewis’s Support

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate passed An Act promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets and opportunity. The legislation authorizes investment in climate change adaptation programs and improvements to existing climate resilient infrastructure.

Massachusetts has continually demonstrated leadership in the fight against global climate change, and the investments authorized in this legislation ensure that cities and towns across the Commonwealth are protected and that public spaces and infrastructure are improved and maintained for the public good.

“With this important legislation, we further demonstrate our commitment to fighting climate change and preserving and protecting our environment and infrastructure,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “Massachusetts continues to lead in environmental stewardship, and the provisions of this bill will ensure that our state remains a desirable, healthy and safe place to work and live.

This bill authorizes the issuance of up to just under $2.2 billion in bonds for projects relating to climate change adaptation and the preservation and improvement of the Commonwealth’s existing environmental and energy assets. These authorizations include funding for projects such as: coastal infrastructure and resiliency improvements; dam and seawall projects; water and air quality protections; hazardous materials cleanup and response; river and wetland restoration programs; agricultural, economic and environmental sustainability and preservation; natural resource protection; improvements to coastal and inland waterways; improvements to roads, trails and bridges, and investment in and acquisition of property for trail purposes; tree planting on publicly-owned land; and protection of Article 97 land.

Senator Lewis successfully sponsored several amendments to secure $6 million in funding for projects in the 5th Middlesex District, including:

  • Lights, markers and other safety measures for the Tri-Community Greenway in Stoneham and Winchester
  • Improvements to Fellsmere Park, a historic park designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, in Malden
  • Upgrades to trails, signage and other improvements in the Middlesex Fells Reservation
  • Improvements to Hunt Park, Memorial Park, Washington Park, Symmonds Way and Sturges Park in Reading
  • Design for the proposed Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail
  • Dredging Winter Pond in Winchester in order to provide safety and environmental improvements
  • Dredging and remediation of First Pond at Mount Hood Golf Course in Melrose

These projects are subject to final approval and release of funds by the Baker administration.

“With every record setting blizzard, every flooded T station, and every endangered species, we experience the effects of climate change in real time,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler. “The legislation that we passed today represents the Massachusetts Senate’s commitment to climate preparedness and the preservation of the Commonwealth’s ecosystems and open spaces.”

Additionally, the bill requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to: (i) coordinate to strengthen resilience and prepare for the impacts of climate change; (ii) publish, every five years, an integrated state climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plan; (iii) establish frameworks for state agency and municipal vulnerability assessments that will be incorporated into the state plan; and (iv) implement the state plan and incorporate information learned from implementing the state plan in plan updates.

Photo credit: Melikamp, Middlesex Fells, between South and Middle Reservoirs, 10/25/09