Save Mass Forests – Forest Protection Bills in MA under review in Nov. 2023

Action Biodiversity Solutions Vision

As renewable energy projects are implemented to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, regulations suspended to help fast-track beneficial projects and combat climate change have allowed the deforestation of intact woodlands. This decreases our resilience, and makes very little sense in the long term.

Simply put, we don’t need to cut down trees to put up solar farms! Let’s work strategically to preserve the essential climate-regulating benefits of nature while pursuing clean energy goals. Save Mass Forests is advocating for protections for ecosystems in planning and siting new solar energy projects in MA. Learn more about how you can get involved!

Check out these bills and calls to action shared from Janet Sinclair of Save Mass Forests and Michael Kellett of Restore North Woods.

SAVE THE DATE   Tuesday November 14th 
An upcoming hearing for an important bill is scheduled for November 14.  This will be with the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

S.1319/H.2082 An Act Regarding Municipal Zoning Powerssponsored by Representative Paul McMurtry and Senator Jacob Oliveira 

This bill simply strikes language from the zoning act. Section 3 of Chapter 40A of the General Laws would be amended by striking the following language: “No zoning ordinance or bylaw shall prohibit or unreasonably regulate the installation of solar energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of solar energy, except where necessary to protect the pubic health, safety or welfare.” 

This sentence was added to the law in 1985, when the thought of acres and acres of solar panels was unimaginable.  The bill would make sure that municipalities can pass and enforce reasonable regulations for solar just as they are allowed to do for any other development. It does not encourage or discourage solar development. It protects citizens and municipalities who are often losing court cases while trying to uphold their zoning bylaws.

This antiquated section of the law is used by solar developers to bypass local bylaws to put solar where they want to. This bill protects the longstanding tradition and value of local control in Massachusetts, and would potentially protect tens of thousands of acres of forests, wetlands, and farmlands from large solar projects which are deemed locally as inappropriate.

A simple action you can take! Please sign this letter of support for S.1319/H.2082.

SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday November 29th 
One important bill – H.4150 – has a tentative hearing date of November 29th.

H.4150 (formerly HD.4430) would give all Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) state-owned lands and watersheds permanent protection as reserves, similar to National Park protection.
We still need more letters of support. We need more calls and e-mails to our lawmakers asking to co-sponsor this and other bills. Info and Links below.

We can still submit written testimony for any of these bills- A simple statement is great.

Send to : and use the bill number(s) in the subject line (example – Support for H.904 and H.4150) 

Photo by Karl Anderson

These forest bills have already had their hearing:

H.894, An Act relative to forest management and practices guidelines  Sponsored by Lindsay N. Sabadosa and Aaron L. Saunders

This bill includes a call for the creation of an independent Advisory Council to oversee an evaluation of Massachusetts publicly owned forest lands with goals that include: • reducing climate change impacts for all Massachusetts residents;• safeguarding biodiversity; • enhancing public health benefits provided by forests; and • mitigating the effects of climate change on our forests.

H.904, An Act relative to increased protection of wildlife management areas  Sponsored by Danillo A. Sena 

This bill calls for 30% of Wildlife Management Areas to become permanent reserves, similar to the protection for our National Parks, by 2030. 

H.895, An Act to require separate carbon accounting for working lands and natural lands and to eliminate from Massachusetts net-zero carbon emissions goal any carbon offsets sold to entities outside of the Commonwealth Massachusetts   Sponsored by Lindsay N. Sabadosa

This bill would modify the Global Warming Solutions Act (Chapter 21N) as amended by the climate roadmap bill signed into law by Gov. Baker (Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021: An act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy) by clarifying some carbon accounting issues in the existing law.

Get Involved

Let’s show support for the bills! Here is how you can help:

  • Share your signature on existing letters if you have not already, or submit your own written comments and send to: 
    Use the bill number(s) in the subject line (example – Support for H.904 and H.4150)
  • Sign onto letters for two of the forest protection bills:
    • H.4150 (to be heard on November 29th) would give all Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) state-owned lands and watersheds permanent protection as reserves, similar to National Park protection
    • H.904 would mandate that 30% of all state-owned lands under the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) are given the same permanent reserve status.  
    • Individual Sign-on Letter
    • Organizational Sign-on Letter

Also, if you have not yet done so, please send a letter to your legislators asking them to co-sponsor H.4150 and H.904

Thank you for your support for these bills. Together, we can significantly expand protection for Massachusetts forests!

You can find more info at Save Mass Forests: