Baker-Polito Administration Announces $12.9 Million in Grants for Land Conservation, Urban Parks and Climate Resilience Projects

Gov. Baker

SALEM, MA – The Baker-Polito Administration announced $12.9 million in grants to protect and conserve land and natural resources, create and restore parks, improve land use within the Commonwealth, and increase resilience to climate change.

These grants, from five separate grant programs, will help communities and land trusts conserve 1,191 acres of land, create or renovate 24 urban parks, and update more than a dozen zoning regulations. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides announced the grants at Palmer Cover Park in Salem, which received a $400,000 grant to improve the park’s resilience to climate change.

“Land protection and conservation play an integral role in our administration’s efforts to protect the Commonwealth’s environmental resources and address the impacts of climate change,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through these grants, we are investing in expanding and improving the network of local conservation areas where residents can enjoy the outdoors, while also creating a landscape that’s more resilient to climate change.”

“Public parks and open spaces lead to strong economies and a good quality of life in our cities and towns, so our administration is pleased to invest in these important projects,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through these grant programs, communities and land trusts all across the state are partnering with us to ensure that Massachusetts families have access to parks and recreational opportunities close to home.”

The grants were given from programs funded by the Baker-Polito Administration utilizing funds appropriated by the Legislature in an environmental bond bill.  While the grants are for a variety of purposes including enhanced land use, conservation of land and natural resources, and creation of parks, all are intended to help Energy and Environmental Affairs partner effectively with land trusts, communities, and regional planning agencies to achieve the shared interest in being effective stewards of our land and natural resources for future generations.

“Protecting land to help sequester carbon and reduce stormwater runoff, providing urban parks for recreation and to mitigate urban heat islands, and updating land use regulations to build housing more sustainably all help communities better protect their citizens from the effects of climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The funding awarded to communities and non-profits across Massachusetts will also ensure that stakeholders are equipped with the tools and resources necessary to maintain important working lands and wildlife habitat as open space.”

Grants were made from each of the following programs:

Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program

Through EEA’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) program, a total of $7,651,548 in grant funding was awarded for park and recreation improvements in 23 Massachusetts communities. The grants will be used to help municipalities develop new parks, renovate existing parks, and acquire 59 acres of land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. There are two categories of PARC grants:  Small Town grants for towns with less than 35,000 residents with a maximum grant award of $100,000, and a separate category for cities and towns with more than 35,000 residents with a $400,000 grant award maximum.

A list of the 2020 PARC Grants can be found here.

Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program

Through the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program, over $3.4 million in grant awards has been awarded to 11 Massachusetts communities. These investments advance the Commonwealth’s climate resiliency efforts and will permanently protect nearly 900 acres of land across Massachusetts.

A list of the 2020 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Grants can be found here.

Planning Assistance Grant Program

Through the Planning Assistance Grant Program, 21 projects have been awarded a total of $1,072,175 in grant funding. The Planning Assistance Grant Program is part of an effort to encourage municipalities to implement land use regulations that are consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s land conservation and development objectives including reduction of land, energy, and natural resource consumption, provision of sufficient and diverse housing, and mitigation of and preparation for climate change.  The program is also part of the technical assistance offered to communities in support of the Administration’s Housing Choice Initiative.

Local regulations, especially zoning, help determine where and how growth happens and in turn how much water, energy and other resources are required to support that growth.  Through these grants the Baker-Polito Administration is helping communities modernize their regulations to building housing and attract jobs in ways that reduce land and energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

A list of the 2020 Planning Assistance Grants can be found here.

Conservation Partnership Grant Program

Through the Conservation Partnership Grant Program, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $541,750 in grant funding for land conservation projects that will protect 231.8 acres of land.  This program provides funding to assist non-profit organizations in acquiring interests in lands suitable for conservation or recreation purposes.

A list of the 2020 Conservation Partnership Grants can be found here.

Conservation District Innovative Projects Grant Program

Through the Conservation District Innovative Projects Grant program, a total of $230,000 is being awarded to local Conservation District offices to fund six locally prioritized conservation projects.  Conservation Districts work in partnership with state and federal agencies on soil and water conservation issues.  Their primary customers are private agricultural landowners and municipalities.

A list of the 2020 Conservation District Innovation Grants can be found here.