I found this interesting clipping yesterday, featuring Shep Evans, Richmond’s current Conservation Agent. The article appeared in the Berkshire Eagle in September of 1994. A debate was continuing in towns all around the Berkshires regarding adoption of the Scenic Mountain Act (SMA). Under the terms of the state’s SMA law, each town must vote to adopt the SMA — then develop localized regulations and a coverage area map. There are still towns who are considering adopting it now, in 2021! As Shep likes to say, “The beat goes on.” In the intervening years, Mr. Spencer’s worries about a “quagmire of paperwork and restrictions”, have not materialized. But it is ever the same with developers attempting to create fear to avoid regulations that might cut into their profits. As, Shep was right to point out, and as it has born out, the SMA, “does not prevent construction… but rather ensures ecologically sound procedures will be used, much in the way the Wetlands Protection Act works.”
I spent time today filling in some basic links to the main bits and pieces of conservation laws and regulations here in Mass, from the Statewide level to the local level. I do think we all live our lives enmeshed in a skein of different rules setting boundaries and norms for activities and behaviors. And as Bill Malumphy terms it, we achieve, “Liberty through regulation”. Plus, I think we are lucky that our system is somewhat democratic in the formation of these rules — just by luck of being born here rather than many other places… or in other times. But as we witnessed recently at the U.S. Capitol, our system is frighteningly fragile. So I do feel the need to rededicate ourselves to our shared rules of all kinds, including those protecting and conserving our local natural resources — the need is ever more urgent.
You can find the links on our Laws, Regs, and Bylaws page. I will be adding more detail and helpful guidance to the bare-bones-links that I’ve put up thus far.