Massachusetts Forest Update

October 2017

MFA Annual Meeting – 2018

MFA is starting to plan its 2018 Annual Meeting, and we need your help.  We can’t always keep everyone happy, but the least we can do is ask for your input and try and deliver on what the membership of MFA wants to see and hear about.

So please take 3 minutes and help us by filling out this very simple, very short (6 questions) survey and we’ll be on our way to another great meeting.

To fill out the survey, please CLICK HERE.

 

2017 MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program Now Open

Would you like to make some improvements to your land to improve or diversify wildlife habitats but have trouble coming up with the money to do them?  If so, you should consider applying for a MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant.

MassWildlife has announced that the 2017 Habitat Management Grant Program is now accepting applications.

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program (MHMGP) is designed to provide financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of protected lands to support active habitat management while fostering partnerships to encourage landscape scale habitat management and expand public recreation on conserved lands. The Baker-Polito Administration has increased the funding for this year’s program from $300,000 to $500,000.

MHMGP objectives

  1. Improve habitat(s) for game species (those species that can be legally hunted, fished, and trapped in MA).
  2. Manage habitat(s) for Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) – special emphasis on State-Endangered and State-Threatened Species.
  3. Expand public recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other wildlife associated recreation on conserved lands.

Eligible entities

Owners of private or municipal conserved lands in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Conserved land is defined as property protected in fee or by a Conservation Restriction, land enrolled in Chapter 61,61A/B, is owned by an organization whose primary mission is habitat conservation, or has a current Landowner Incentive Program covenant.

Grantee match commitment – None

Award information

Applicants are eligible to receive between $10,000 and $50,000 per grant towards their approved habitat management project.

Application deadline: Applications must be postmarked by OCTOBER 30, 2017.

Allowable activities/costs

Direct costs for on the ground habitat improvements specifically designed to benefit wildlife will be eligible for reimbursement.  All project costs must be approved in the agreed upon contract budget to be eligible for reimbursement.

All application materials are posted on COMMBUYS**. Proposals must be postmarked on or before OCTOBER 30, 2017.  Send 1 hard copy of the completed application package to:

MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program Attn: James Burnham MassWildlife Field Headquarters 1 Rabbit Hill Road Westborough, MA 01581

For additional information, contact James Burnham at 508 389-6343  or email james.burnham@state.ma.us  or see

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/masswildlife-habitat-management-grant-program

 

Things Are Starting to Happen on Beacon Hill

The pace of legislative committee work has started to pick up, and there are a few items to report on.

MTWP. A hearing on the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership (MTWP) draft bill is scheduled for 1:00 on October 10 in Boston. House Bill 2932, An Act Establishing the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, would formalize and codify the governing body of the Partnership.  Doing so will make the Partnership more likely to be able to access state and federal monies directly, and give some permanent structure to what has, so far,  been a fairly ad hoc, but open, process.

If you are interested in the success of the MTWP, and would like to help assure its success, comments and support of the legislation are helpful and can be directed to the Committee Co-Chairs:  Senator Gobi and Representative Pignatelli.

For their contact info, please CLICK HERE.

Estate Tax. While a lot of attention has been focused on possible federal tax reform, MFA and a collection of land trusts and agricultural organizations have been working to advance reforms to the Massachusetts estate tax. House Bill 3915, An Act to Establish Tax Valuation for Farms, was recently reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Revenue, and is now in the hands of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

HB3915 would significantly reduce the tax burdens incurred through the estate tax by creating a system that mirrors Chapter 61 taxation for farm and forestland within the estate tax framework.  The current Massachusetts estate tax exemption of one million dollars is very low. Under the proposed bill, an estate could elect to value holdings of forest or farmland at current use valuation levels.  In exchange for such a reduction, an estate would commit, through an easement or lien, to keep the lands in that use for a full 10 years from the date of death.

An estimated 22 farm and forestland owners annually die with farm and forest holdings large enough to make their estates taxable, even before any other assets are included. This bill would provide a pathway to eliminate the tax entirely on all but two in an average year. Without the current use valuation option, an average of 5,700 acres of land would be affected annually, with that land at high risk of conversion to other uses during the 3 years immediately following the death of the landowner.

For more information on this bill, please CLICK HERE to view an article I wrote for the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative on this issue.

To support the bill, contact the Committee Chair Representative Jeffrey Sanchez and Committee Vice Chair Representative Steven Kulik. CLICK HERE for their contact information.

Chapter 61 A. The Joint Committee also reported favorably on House Bill 3856, An Act Relative to Expanding Agricultural Land. This bill would modify current use taxation to allow smaller parcels to be more easily included in a Chapter 61A application.

While not changing the rules for Chapter 61, which requires more acreage, the bill allows landowners with land enrolled in Chapter 61A to add parcels that are less than 5 acres in size and located within 10 miles of the core parcel. The 5 acre minimum for the core parcel would remain a requirement.

Under current law, those smaller parcels are allowed only if they are adjacent to other parcels that collectively add up to 5 acres.  This bill was reported directly to the House Floor, so doesn’t have another committee to get through.

To support this bill, contact your state representative directly (to find your state representative and his or her contact information, CLICK HERE) and ask them to support bringing the bill up for a vote, and ask them to vote favorably on it when it does.

 

Bioenergy Day Tour in Ashfield October 18th

The Massachusetts Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET) will hold a tour of a new pellet heating installation in Ashfield and a nearby wildlife habitat harvest site on Bioenergy Day, Wednesday October 18th.

The tour will visit the new $300,000 pellet heating system at Sanderson Academy which has been funded by a SAPHIRE grant from the Department of Energy Resources.  Installation of the system is ongoing with completion expected in late November.  A similar system at the Hawlemont Regional School in Charlemont last year provided first year savings of $17,000, reducing the school’s oil consumption from 13,000 gallons to just 600.

Following the visit to Sanderson, the tour will visit MFA’s Taylor Forest where 30 acres of low value ice-damaged woodlands were harvested last winter with help from a grant from Mass Wildlife to create early successional habitat for threatened birds and other wildlife.  The tour will then view another woodland nearby where a similar harvest was held in 2004 to see how the forest has regrown.

The tour will begin at Sanderson Academy on Route 116 at 10 am and wrap up by about noon.

For information about the Bioenergy Day tour, see the MFA website: www.massforestalliance.net

 

New Program to Pay Landowners in 28 Towns to Allow Public Access to Wildlife

Is part of your property a hotbed for wildlife?  Have you recently done work to enhance wildlife habitats on your land?  Would you be willing to have the public visit your property to enjoy wildlife?

If so, you may want to investigate the new Voluntary Public Access (VPA) program for private landowners in northwestern Massachusetts.  The Voluntary Public Access Program (VPA) is a new program that pays private landowners to allow public access on their lands which are managed for wildlife habitat to allow hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking.  Landowners can receive a payment of $50/acre to allow public access for a ten year period on their land, $35/acre if they don’t allow hunting.

VPA will purchase either 10 year temporary or permanent easements from landowners in a 28 town region in western Hampshire and Franklin and northern Berkshire County to allow public access to wildlife habitat on their lands for the purpose of hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and hiking.  Participating landowners may also be able to sell temporary or permanent trail easements to VPA to provide access to wildlife habitat.

Land in the following towns may be eligible for VPA payments:

Berkshire County:    Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hinsdale, New Ashford, North Adams, Peru, Savoy, Williamstown & Windsor

Franklin County:      Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Rowe, and Shelburne

Hampshire County: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Worthington

VPA is being funded by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Franklin Land Trust in partnership with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, and the Massachusetts Forest Alliance.

MFA will be holding information sessions in towns in the 28 town region to acquaint landowners with what is involved and how they can apply to participate.

For learn more about the VPA program, payment rates, and other criteria, contact Greg Cox (gcox@crocker.com or 413 339-5526) from MFA, or contact Melissa Patterson at Franklin Land Trust (mpatterson@franklinlandtrust.org or 413 625-9151.

 

Want to know more about Maple Sugaring?

If you have a stand of maple trees that you’ve been considering tapping for maple syrup, but feel you need more information before you start, you may want to take part in two training programs this week.

On Tuesday, October 10th, Penn State Extension will hold 2 one-hour Maple Syrup: a Beginner’s Experience webinars at noon and 7 pm.  Extension educator Scott Weikert will explain how to collect sap and boil it into syrup based on his own experiences.

To participate in one of the webinars, go to https://meeting.psu.edu/PAForestWeb/

On Saturday, October 14th, the Mass Maple Producers Association will be holding two workshops on maple sugaring at Tom McCrumm’s South Face Farm Tree Farm in Ashfield from 10 am to 3 pm.

At the morning workshop, forester Lincoln Fish will explain the basics of Sugarbush Management and how to keep maple trees healthy and productive.  At the afternoon workshop, Tom McCrumm will explain the ins and outs of sap tubing systems.

Cost of the workshops is $20 for Maple Producer members and $30 for non-members, including lunch.  To register for the workshops, call Winton Pitcoff at 413 628-3912 or register online at www.massmaple.org/2017fw

 

Community-based Deer Management Plan Online Course Available

Are deer populations an issue in your community?  If they are, your town may want to create a Deer Management Plan.

Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources (Human Dimensions Research Unit and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension) has developed an online educational course—Creating a Community-based Deer Management Plan—aimed at supporting community leaders, wildlife professionals, and Cooperative Extension educators in creating community-based deer management plans.

The purpose of this free online course is to help community leaders understand the components of a community-based deer management plan. The course reviews the essential elements of a complete community-based deer management plan with real-world examples developed by communities across the United States. The course also includes brief educational videos featuring wildlife professionals, academics, nonprofit personnel, and community leaders.

The online course is accessible via the Community Deer Advisor website (www.deeradvisor.org), or by browsing courses at https://canvas.instructure.com. The Community Deer Advisor, a collaboration between Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy, is aimed at providing guidance as communities progress through a community-based deer management decision-making process..

For additional information, contact Dr. Emily Pomeranz, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University by email efp33@cornell.edu.

 

Business News:

Commonwealth Seeking Bids for Compost/Mulch, Stone & Soil, Tree & Shrub Seeds and Cuttings

The state’s Operational Services Division which does state purchasing has posted a new Bid Solicitation that would seek additional bids for Landscaping materials and park equipment. BID SOLICITATION DESCRIPTION: FAC104 Reopening Landscaping Products, Parks & Recreation Equipment, Related Products and Services

BID SOLICITATION NUMBER: BD-18-1080-OSD03-SRC02-20532 BID SOLICITATION OPENING DATE: 11/21/2017 03:00:00 PM
The reopened bid seeks bids for five different categories of materials and equipment:

Item 1 – Nursery Products for tree & shrub seeds and cuttings

Item 2 – Compost & Mulch for forestry byproducts

Item 3 – Soil Aggregate Products for earth and stone

Item 4 – Fencing Railing Decking for outdoor furniture

Item 5 – Related Specialty EPP Products for sports accessories.

For information about these bid opportunities, go to https://www.commbuys.com/bso/external/bidAck.sdo?parentUrl=activeBids&bidId=BD-18-1080-OSD03-SRC02-20532

To get more information, call Katherine Morse at 617 720-3153 or email Katherine.Morse@state.ma.us

All bids are due by November 21st at 3 pm.

HOW DO I ACCESS THE BID RECORD ABOVE? If you DO NOT have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password: 1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com 2. Select the “Contract & Bid Search” link and on the next page Select “Bids” 3. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button 4. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record If you DO have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password: 1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com 2. Enter your login credentials into the Login ID & Password and select Login 3. Select the Settings icon from the top right of the page, and then Advanced Search 4. In the Document Type drop down box select “Bids”, the page will refresh and offer the Advanced Search fields 5. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button 6. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record
All Bidders must respond within the requirements of this solicitation and its applicable procurement laws, policies and practices. All Bidders are responsible for ensuring that their responses are based on the most current version of the bid record.
MFA Forest Update: Now accepting ads, both graphic and text ! Contact MFA to learn more, or place your ad.

 

Upcoming Programs and Training

October 10                 Maple Syrup Beginners – webinar

October 12                 Habitat Site Walk — Montague

October 13 – 14        Tree Steward Training – Petersham

October 13                 Forest Walk at Beckwith Farm — Granville

October 14                 Sugarbush Management workshop – Ashfield

October 14                 Wood Bank Workbee – Petersham

October 15                 Managing Invasive Species Workshop for Landowners — Leyden

October 18                 BioEnergy Day tour — Ashfield

October 20 – 21        Building with Stone workshop — Plainfield

October 21                 Tree ID Using Bark & Habitat Clues workshop – Northfield

October 22                 Steerage Rock Forest Tour — Brimfield

October 24                 Hydronics for High Efficiency Biomass Boilers workshop – Glens Falls, NY

October 26                 Woods Walk — Heath

October 26                 Bats in Massachusetts program – Gardner

October 28                 From Forest to Frame program — Cummington

October 28                 Wildlife Habitat & Recreational Trails Tour – Spencer

October 28                 Project Learning Tree & Growing up Wild workshop –Northfield

 

November 4              Farm Tractors in Forestry workshop – Bridgewater, NH

November 4              Pre Harvest Tree Farm Tour — Marshfield

November 10            Storm Damage Removal workshop – location TBD

November 14            Two Pronged Approach to Deer Management – webinar

November 14            Forester Licensing Board meeting – Amherst

November 15             VPA Information meeting — Shelburne Falls

November 25            Woodbank Workbee – Petersham

 

Additional information about these and other events will be posted at www.massforestalliance.net as information becomes available.