Vol. I No. 04 9/15/2020
About the Stockbridge Conservation Commission
This information was taken from Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions. Read the full text at http://maccweb.org/page/aboutmassconcomm.
Massachusetts invented the municipal conservation commission. The need was identified in the 1950s. By 1957, General Law Chapter 40 Section 8C – the Conservation Commission Act — enabled municipalities to establish conservation commissions by a vote of the town meeting or city council. By the mid-1980s, every city and town in the Commonwealth had established a conservation commission.
The duties and responsibilities of a conservation commission are set forth in the Conservation Commission Act. The conservation commission is the official agency specifically charged with the protection of a community's natural resources. The commission also advises other municipal officials and boards on conservation issues that relate to their areas of responsibility. The duties include:
Open Space Protection
The Conservation Commission Act authorizes conservation commissions to inventory the municipality's natural resources and to prepare relevant maps and plans. Open Space and Recreation Plans are therefore coordinated by conservation commissions. These important documents are a prerequisite for securing funds for open space acquisition. Conservation commissions also have the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the use of conservation land. These regulations have the full force of law; they are not merely "guidelines."
In 1972, conservation commissions were given responsibility to administer the Wetlands Protection Act (G.L. Ch. 131 Section 40) in their community. The commission serves the community in a regulatory capacity. Under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, conservation commissions process over ten thousand applications every year for permits to do work in and near wetlands, flood plains, banks, riverfront areas, beaches, and surface waters. The requirements of the Wetlands Protection Act are set forth in regulations promulgated by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). How to administer the Wetlands Protection Act is described in detail in Protecting Wetlands and Open Space: MACC's Environmental Handbook for Massachusetts Conservation Commissioners.
In Massachusetts, conservation commissions' authority comes from several sources: the Conservation Commission Act (MGL Chapter 40 section 8C) for open space protection; the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Chapter 131 section 40) for protecting wetlands and waterways; and the home rule provisions of the state constitution for non-zoning wetlands bylaws. Conservation Commissions have authority to issue permits.
The first powers given to conservation commissions in the Conservation Commission Act focused on "promotion and development of natural resources...and protection of watershed resources." Under these powers, commissions undertake planning, acquiring, and managing open space, encouraging and monitoring conservation and agricultural preservation restrictions.
All state statutes can be found in the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) at https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws
Stockbridge Conservation Commission
In Stockbridge, commissioners are appointed by the Select Board. Our Conservation Commission has five members and two associate members. Terms are three years in length.
If you have an interest in serving on your local conservation commission, talk to the commissioners, attend meetings and hearings, and learn what the job is all about. If you want to join, let the commission and the Select Board know of your interest.
Stockbridge Conservation Commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesday at 7 P.M. via ZOOM. Chair: Ron Brouker
The Marbled Salamander is a Species of Special Concern in Massachusetts.