The Massachusetts House of Representatives today passed a budget that includes an additional $9.6 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, over the previous year’s level.
“It’s clear that we need to reinvest in our parks and forests, and it’s good that the House has recognized that,” said Jen Baker with Environment Massachusetts, the new home of MASSPIRG’s environmental work. “Today the House stood up for Revere Beach, Middlesex Fells, Nickerson State Park, Balance Rock State Park, Walden Pond and other great places across the Commonwealth. This additional funding means more rangers, cleaner and safer parks, more public access, more educational programs and more recreational opportunities ”
The increase in funding 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, circulated the letter, which was signed by 86 Representatives. The letter, delivered to the Ways and Means committee 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.
“We applaud Speaker DiMasi, Chairman DeLeo, Chairman Smizik and Representative Rush for standing up for our forests, parks and beaches. Thanks to their leadership, we are taking a crucial first step in turning these ecological, economic and recreational treasures around.”
The Massachusetts state forests and parks system, the ninth 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 budget now moves on to the Senate.