“While turning our forests and parks around will take long term investment and stewardship, the House Committee on Ways and Means missed a critical first step today,” said Jen Baker from Environment Massachusetts, the new home of MASSPIRG’s environmental work. “We cannot continue starving these public treasures. Continued under-funding means fewer rangers, more environmental damage, more trash on the trails, more closed parks, fewer educational programs and less recreational opportunities.”
The House budget recommendation comes after a majority of Legislators voiced their support in a letter to the Chairs of Ways and Means for an increase of $10 million in the DCR budget. Rep. Mike Rush, D-Boston, and Sen. Edward Augustus, D-Worcester circulated the letter, which was signed by 86 Representatives and 23 Senators. The letter, delivered to the Ways and Means chairs in late March, invokes Massachusetts legacy of environmental leadership and highlights the toll that chronic under-funding has taken on our state forests, parks and beaches as well as on our legacy as a leader.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Governor Patrick pledged to include an additional $10 million for our state forests and parks. He failed to include these resources when he released his budget in February. Rep. Rush, Sen. Augustus, Environment Massachusetts, the Conservation and Recreation Campaign and others are working to ensure that these additional resources are delivered in the Legislature’s budget.
“Nothing challenging and worthwhile has ever been accomplished by taking no for an answer; we will continue our efforts in the legislature to strive to create a world class park system for the people of this state,” said Rep. Mike Rush.
“We look forward to working with Rep. Rush and the majority of Representatives who support increased funding to deliver these much needed additional resources,” said Tom Philbin, Director of the Conservation and Recreation Campaign.
The Massachusetts state forests and parks system, the sixth largest in the country supports dozens of rare species, natural communities and old growth and champion tree sites. Massachusetts parks and open space also contribute significantly to the quality of life and economic prosperity of the Commonwealth as recreational havens, outdoor classrooms, tourist attractions and magnets for new businesses and new employees.
The House of Representatives is expected to debate the House Budget on Monday, April 23.