New Bill Filed by Rep. Sabadosa
Updated: Jun 9
On February 19, 2021, HD.1003, An Act to Ensure Accountability and Public Rights Regarding Commercial Tree Harvesting on Commonwealth-owned Lands, from Wendell State Forest Alliance, was filed by State Representative, Lindsay Sabadosa. It has been referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and is now H.1003.
If passed into law this bill would guarantee accountability to existing laws by DCR for any projects they approve, including accountability for environmental impacts, carbon accounting and public participation.
Specifically, it reinforces the mandates of MEPA and the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act. It would ensure compliance with CH. 132A sec2B of the MA General Laws which declare it policy that our state owned forests, “… be preserved in their natural state… and that no commercial activities except those essential to the quiet enjoyment of the facilities by the people shall be permitted.”
In addition if passed, the new law would allow the public legal right to participate in decisions regarding projects on Commonwealth-owned lands, as well as the legal standing required to seek remedy through the courts.
The impetus for this initiative was a 2020 judicial ruling on a lawsuit bought by 29 Citizens intended to protect a section of Wendell State Forest from commercial logging.
In September 2020, Franklin Superior Court Justice Richard J. Carey dismissed the case without ruling on the merits for two categorical reasons: the issues raised required new or amended legislation; and (2) the people did not have standing for their complaint, asserting that the public has no legal right to intervene on behalf of commonwealth lands. H.1003 addresses both of these findings.
The authors of H.1003 feel an urgency to remedy Judge Carey’s findings, as the Commonwealth continues to plan and execute commercial logging in state forests and on other public lands throughout the Commonwealth.
“During the Planetary Emergency we now face, public land-use decisions must be evaluated in terms of their consequences for climate disruption and biodiversity loss. In direct opposition to the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act, commercial logging in our public forests damages their ability to capture and store carbon, and since most species living on land depend on forests for their survival, logging is also a direct threat to our richest reservoir of biological diversity. This bill intends to focus attention on how ‘business as usual’ is literally killing us by degrees and preventing the essential transition to a more livable future for all inhabitants of Massachusetts and the planet as a whole,” declared Bill Stubblefield of Wendell.
"These are 'public lands.' Therefore, the people must have a seat at the table. H.1003 will assure the public the legal right to claim that seat” commented Lynn Waldron of Greenfield.
"While Massachusetts has some really great laws which could support mitigating climate disruption, we learned the hard way that they have no teeth where our public lands are concerned," added Greenfield resident Gia Neswald. "DCR claims without reason these laws do not apply to them or to their habitual practice of cutting down our forests."