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Woodlands Partnership Towns Get $260K in State Funding

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The newly established Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership's grant program has received $260,000 in funding from the state to support forest stewardship, nature-based tourism and climate education.
The funds were announced last week by Gov. Charlie Baker and will build on the shared stewardship agreement signed last November between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, the 10 of the participating municipalities and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.
Each community will receive $20,000 toward projects and programming and the FRCOG is getting $60,000 for a regional tourism assessment.
"Improving the stewardship of our forests makes them more resilient to the impacts of climate change, strengthens local economies by encouraging nature-based tourism, and benefits rural communities," Baker said in the announcement. "These grants are a terrific example of the collaborative spirit we've worked to foster here in the commonwealth, and we are proud to partner with these communities to preserve our forests and natural resources for generations to come."
The woodland grant program offers opportunities for communities in the region to realize the objectives of the partnership by providing funding to assist towns in the commonwealth's most rural and forested region to plan for the care of forests in the face of climate change, prepare forest offset projects, and improve nature-based tourism through connected trail networks and educational exhibits. 
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership was created to enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend on the region's natural resources such as tourism and forestry products.
Of the 21 communities eligible to join the partnership, 14 communities are now members, while seven more will vote on whether to join the partnership in the coming months.  The Shared Stewardship Framework provides a critical step in the transition from a locally led vision to a long-term initiative and national model program to conserve and steward the forests, support rural economic development, and strengthen the vitality of these small communities. 
It is being seen as both an economic development partnership as well as a tool for conservation and stewardship. 
Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, who signed the agreement with the Forest Service on behalf of the state and the partnership, said, "healthy, resilient forests are critical ecosystems that help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet our ambitious climate goals." 
Earlier in February, Adams and the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership was awarded a $1.5 million action grant to support a regional adaptation climate resilience project through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program. The grant was part of $11.6 million in grant funding to more than 80 communities across the commonwealth to identify climate hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change.
"The investment awarded to towns in my district through this grant program is a great step forward in showcasing the natural beauty of Western Mass, while providing opportunities for economic development through promoting and conserving our natural resources," said state Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield. "It remains important for the communities to come together to define an agreed path forward for the partnership and I look forward to engagement on this."
State Rep. John Barrett III thanked the administration for the awarding the environmental grants to communities in the First Berkshire.
"These grant funds will benefit the nature-based economy of the region, as well as address the critical climate change issues we are facing in Northern Berkshire," he said. 
Receiving funding are: 
To promote environmental education and natural resource-based tourism by expanding the partnership among the town, MassAudubon, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Williams College to design the exhibit space for the Greylock Glen Education Center to focus on forests and climate change.
The project will design and build a 1.5-mile Sanderson Elementary School Loop Trail from the school through a diverse, town forest and include educational kiosks and brochures for school children, town residents and the visiting public.
Forest stewardship plans that will include an inventory, assessment and plan for two town forests, including education of and collaboration with residents in regard to forest stewardship, which is especially important as forests face the impacts of climate change.
Design and construction of the Catamount Trail development on Burnt Hill that will include a new trail and picnic area connecting the 350-acre town forest to the 1,300-acre state forest to the benefit of both town residents and visitors.  The project will benefit from many hours of local volunteers and produce forest stewardship educational kiosks.
New Ashford
Complete forest stewardship plans for town forests and focus trail repair work on important trails for access by hikers, snowmobilers and hunters.
North Adams
A city trail mapping project will compile a comprehensive map of all the trails on various ownerships in the city and produce and market the trail map to connect both tourists and residents with the outdoors.
A project to improve access to hiking trails and attractions will rehabilitate a section of Curtin Road and install wayfinding signage from Route 143 so the public can access Peru State Forest and hiking trails to Garnet Peak and a cultural site.
Outreach and stewardship plan for the town forest that will gather input from meetings and a survey about the management of the 1,408-acre town park and forest and complete an assessment and plan for the property that will improve the climate resilience of the forest.
The Mahican-Mohawk Trail Village project will design and construct a trail from Shelburne Falls village to this 100-mile regional trail along the Deerfield River that will connect the Connecticut River to the Hudson River and include trail signage and kiosks.
A forest assessment project will complete an inventory and assessment of 1,800 acres of town forestland in several separate parcels for carbon offset and include public outreach with the community to agree on next steps for this project.
Franklin Regional Council of Governments
The regional tourism assessment will inventory and map the nature-based tourism infrastructure in the 21-town MTWP region (outdoor recreation trails and sites, information centers, parking areas, etc.) and prepare recommendations for tourism infrastructure that is needed to expand regional nature-based tourism.

Tags: forestland,   state grant,   

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Adams Resource Officer Makes Spirit Week Videos

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Officer Dabrowski has a lot of sports jerseys for Jersey Day. 

ADAMS, Mass. — Police Officer Nicholas Dabrowski spent last week connecting with homebound Hoosac Valley Elementary pupils through a series of daily broadcasts. 

Schools have been closed for two weeks and won't reopen until May because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But Dabrowski, the school resource officer, wanted to make sure no one missed out on some school spirit. 
"Social media has been so negative and I'd just wanted to let the kids know we're thinking of them and give them something to do each day," he said.
Dabrowski said although he tends to keep to himself he does have a "goofy side." One night during dinner, his wife encouraged him to utilize this to let the kids know he was thinking about them.
"My wife knew that I missed my time at the school," he said. "Much of our dinner conversations are centered around my conversations with the kids at lunch."
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