Land Trusts Have a Role to Play in Fighting Climate Change

Land Trusts Have a Role to Play in Fighting Climate Change

by Brian White

As the climate crisis becomes more obvious to lawmakers and the population at large, corrective action starts with reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency. Unfortunately, we are already past the point where simply reducing emissions, even to net zero, will be enough to avert disaster. Section C3 of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report summary for policymakers states that all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C require removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in addition to net-zero emissions. The degree to which this needs to be done depends heavily on how rapidly we can transition all sectors of the economy to net-zero emissions.

Reforestation and land restoration are among the cheapest methods to sequester carbon dioxide. A single tree can capture about 1 ton of carbon dioxide over a 40-year life. A new study published in the journal Science showed that a global tree planting campaign could absorb 2/3 of the carbon that humans have emitted into the atmosphere. The study also showed that there is enough land available for just such a tree-planting campaign without disrupting existing farming and urban areas. Partially reforesting areas such as grazing land would have a co-benefit for cattle and other grazing animals. The shade gives animals a place to relax away from the direct sun. China and India have already begun major reforestation efforts. It is time for the United States, led by community initiatives, to get into the game.

So how do we achieve a lofty reforestation goal? Surprisingly, individuals can play a tremendous role by reducing meat, dairy, and palm oil consumption. These reductions, coupled with economic incentives from industrial countries, will help to promote reforestation in the natural rainforest areas of Brazil, Argentina, and equatorial Asia. These areas can host a very dense tree population and sequester a tremendous amount of carbon. While these are two concrete examples of how individuals can provide essential help to combat climate change, these contributions can still feel disconnected from peoples’ daily lives and are often treated as a matter of personal choice. Preservation and restoration of local forested areas can provide a more connected and community-oriented approach to combating climate change.

So how do land trusts and communities engage? Land trusts have a significant role to play as stewards of good land use policy. Consolidating suburban sprawl, protecting existing forests, and restoring unused land to forests are all critical components to help build a natural carbon capture system. This includes supporting eliminating single-family zoning restrictions, minimizing low-density housing development, opposing the development of forested areas, encouraging the expansion of connected green and forested space, purchasing open land with the intent of reforestation, and protecting and maintaining the health of existing forested land.

Eliminating or reducing single-family zones encourages denser development, which can be cheaper to build and easier to service with public transportation. Multifamily and mixed-use zoning can turn neighborhoods that primarily serve as bedrooms for commuting workers into vibrant communities. This approach also has the potential benefit of creating more affordable housing to attract first-time homebuyers and younger families.

Preserving forested areas protects our existing large carbon sinks. Cutting down trees won’t necessarily result in the release of carbon, but it will prevent them from continuing their important role. Placing low-density houses on forested land makes them net-carbon emitters. By contrast, reforesting unused plots and consolidating housing to centrally located areas allows more land to be carbon negative, creates more social communities, and facilitates the possibility of better mass transit solutions. Supporting and connecting forested areas helps our wildlife populations to remain stable and promotes a healthy ecosystem.

These are just a few land-use ideas for which land trusts and their members can advocate. Land use in the United States must become more sustainable while it supports a growing population. It is important that we keep and protect the assets we have while rehabilitating land that is no longer effectively used for industry, agriculture, or appropriate housing. Successful and healthy land trusts should be stewards of all their communities’ lands, in addition to the parcels that have been explicitly entrusted to their care.

Related links:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions

https://www.seeker.com/climate/ipcc-report-co2-capture-is-necessary-to-avoid-perilous-climate-change

https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/summary-for-policy-makers/

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

Donation from St. Mary’s Credit Union

Thank you, St. Mary’s Credit Union

The Hudson Land Trust would like to thank St. Mary’s Credit Union for its generous donation of $500. These funds help the Trust fulfill its mission of preserving and protecting Hudson’s precious natural resources.

Old North Road Trail Blazing

Last Thursday, a hearty group of about thirty volunteers braved some rain, swarming mosquitos, and a dense jungle of thorns and poison ivy to cut a loop trail at the Old North Road conservation land. Thank you to all who contributed.

Thank you to Glen Davis for providing pizza to the group and to Pam Helinek for organizing.

We hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the trail soon. Set your GPS to 10 Old North Road.

Later this summer, we will be back to do some touchup on this trail and cut another. We hope to have signage in place later this year.

 

Centennial Beach

Centennial Beach Project

Centennial BeachPlease Support the Centennial Beach Project

The beach is one of the town’s best assets and has for too long been an under-appreciated and under-utilized resource.

This is our opportunity to improve it. A “yes” vote at Town Meeting won’t cost you a cent in new taxes, but you’ll reap all the benefits of this transformative enhancement.


At the upcoming Town Meeting on May 6th, we have the opportunity to dramatically improve Centennial Beach. The Hudson Land Trust fully supports this effort.

As you may know, the facilities at the beach are showing their age and in desperate need of repair. Further, natural erosion has damaged the beach and we need to better manage runoff. The tab for this rehabilitation effort is $1.75 million dollars.

The good news – unlike most everything else we spend money on, this one is truly tax neutral. Let me explain.

More about the project, here.


Funding the Project

This project will be funded with Community Preservation Funds (“CPF”). This is the money that comes from the 1% surcharge on your tax bill. In 2007, under the Community Preservation Act, Hudson enacted this surcharge. Over the years (as of 2017) it has raised about $3.4M from residents and we have received about $1.3M in matching funds from the state. These funds are designated for use toward historic preservation, affordable housing, open space, and recreation projects – that’s it. These funds are separate from the general fund, thus these dollars are not in competition with the school budget, funds for road paving, or any of the other operating functions of the town.

In recent years, Hudson has used these funds to preserve downtown buildings, acquire land for recreation and conservation and recreation, among other projects.

We don’t have $1.75M in Community Preservation Funds on hand. So, with an opportunity like this before us, the articles on the Town Meeting warrant suggest funding it as follows:

Article 26:  Spend $250,000 of CPF on hand.

Article 27:  Borrow the remaining $1.5M.


No New Tax

Importantly, unlike building a new school or police station, repaying this bond will NOT raise property taxes. The question at hand is whether to commit to diverting a portion of these segregated CPF to repay the bond.


Please Support These Warrant Articles

We hope you’ll join us in supporting this measure. Please ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.

Please contact us with questions. See you at Town Meeting!

Thank you for your support.

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day Events Around Town

Earth Day is coming – April 22, 2019. Here are some events around town that you should know about.

Spread the word. Thanks for your help!

Town Cleanup

When:  April 27 & 28

About:  Pick up trash bags at Beyond Real Estate between 8 am and 3 pm, drop them off at the Rail Trail parking lot.

Spread the word. Organize a neighborhood cleanup. Thanks for your help!

Earth day cleanup 2019

Hazardous Waste Dropoff Day

When:  April 27, 9 am to 1 pm

About:  Hudson and Marlborough residents can dispose of a wide range of household hazardous waste for FREE.

Drop off at 860 Boston Post Road East, Marlborough’s Easterly Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Hazardous waste day 2019

 

Stretch Energy Code Information Session – update

Small Changes, Big Money

Hudson is most the way there on the path to becoming a “Green Community”. By taking a few more small steps, the town will be eligible for ~$165K in initial grant funds and additional grant monies every year. Surrounding towns have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years. Maynard has won more than a million.

At the upcoming town meeting, we will decide whether to adopt a small change to our building code. The change adds an energy efficiency certification requirement to most residential and some commercial construction projects (HERS) and makes no material changes to the code.

This one is easy — small changes for big money. Let’s join the 250+ cities and towns already enjoying these state grants.

Please support this measure at next month’s town meeting.

 

Original Stretch Energy Code post here and below.


Build Greener, Win Grants

At the upcoming spring Town Meeting, Hudson will decide whether to implement a Stretch Energy Code for the purpose of becoming a Green Community. Green Community’s are eligible for grants which fund energy saving projects in municipal buildings.

So, in addition to the direct benefits of building greener here in Hudson, there are financial incentives for the Town adopting this higher standard that most Massachusetts communities have already implemented.

Upcoming Information Session

To learn more about the Stretch Code and becoming a Green Community, please attend the upcoming information session:

When:  Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 7:00 PM
Where: Town Hall, Second Floor, Board of Selectman’s Meeting Room

Questions: 978-562-2948 or phelinek@townofhudson.org

Jim Barry, Western MA Regional Coordinator with the Green Communities Division, will give a presentation and answer your questions.


Background on the Stretch Energy Code and Green Communities initiative

Info on building energy codes

Stretch Energy Code

Green Communities Act, 2008

250 cities and towns in Massachusetts have implemented the Stretch Code. See the map, here.

FAQs and answers, from the City of Woburn (2011).

Stretch Energy Code Information Session

Build Greener, Win Grants

At the upcoming spring Town Meeting, Hudson will decide whether to implement a Stretch Energy Code for the purpose of becoming a Green Community. Green Community’s are eligible for grants which fund energy saving projects in municipal buildings.

So, in addition to the direct benefits of building greener here in Hudson, there are financial incentives for the Town adopting this higher standard that most Massachusetts communities have already implemented.

Upcoming Information Session

To learn more about the Stretch Code and becoming a Green Community, please attend the upcoming information session:

When:  Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 7:00 PM
Where: Town Hall, Second Floor, Board of Selectman’s Meeting Room

Questions: 978-562-2948 or phelinek@townofhudson.org

Jim Barry, Western MA Regional Coordinator with the Green Communities Division, will give a presentation and answer your questions.


Background on the Stretch Energy Code and Green Communities initiative

Info on building energy codes

Stretch Energy Code

Green Communities Act, 2008

250 cities and towns in Massachusetts have implemented the Stretch Code. See the map, here.

FAQs and answers, from the City of Woburn (2011).