Silver Maple Forest — a small step forward

For those of you who are following the issue of the Silver Maple Forest, I want to report a small step forward.

Today, the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, on
which I sit, reported out the Governor’s Environmental Bond Bill favorably.

The Committee version of the bill, reported favorably today, includes an
earmark for the acquisition of the Silver Maple Forest.  The full text of
the relevant line item appears further below.

This development is good news.  It is the first positive legislative action
related to the acquisition and I am grateful to my colleagues on the
committee.  But there is much more that needs to happen before we can
celebrate in any sense.

First, a number of other approvals must occur before the bill becomes
final.  It is likely to go next to the Bonding Committee and then to House
Ways and Means.  The bill can and will change in each of those committees.
Then it needs to be approved by the House as a whole and then the Senate
must act on it and the Governor must sign it.  While there is great support
for the Environmental Bond Bill, there are a number of bond bills pending
and some legislators have concerns about the affordability of the capital

Second, even if the bill is approved and enacted into law, the
administration is not bound to do anything by it.  The bond bills are
authorizations not orders — it remains up to the administration whether
they actually want to go forward and do the things that are authorized by
the bond bill.  So far, the Governor has not taken a position on the

Finally, of course, we will need to find the money locally to make up the
difference between the $6 million authorized and the full acquisition cost,
which will be considerably greater than that.

So, I am providing this news at this stage as an item of information, but
there remains much more to do.

The text of the relevant paragraph appears below.

Best regards,

Will B.

Excerpt from the Environmental Bond Bill as reported today:

2800-7011     For the acquisition of land and interests in land by the
department of conservation and recreation and for associated costs,
including planning, study, due diligence, title and appraisal services, site
restoration, stewardship, and costs associated with the defense of eminent
domain takings for the purpose of protecting significant natural and
cultural resources of the commonwealth and enhancing the department’s system
of forests, parks and reservations; provided, that funds may be used for
development and implementation of a stewardship program on lands under the
care and control of the department of conservation and recreation, including
but not limited to resource and land use monitoring, signage, boundary
delineation and monitoring, preparation of baseline documentation,
stewardship planning, ecological monitoring, and enforcement of conservation
restrictions or detection and resolution of encroachments on land owned in
fee simple, and repair of damage to property related to illegal uses such as
off-road vehicle trespass; provided further, that funds may be used for
inventory, restoration and  reclamation of recently acquired land, including
demolition of structures, removal of debris, eradication of non-native
species, and other services essential to these reclamation efforts; provided
further, that no more than $6,000,000 shall be expended for the acquisition
of the Silver Maple Forest in Belmont and Cambridge, for conservation
purposes    $76,000,000

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.