Dalton Green Committee Clarifies Scope of Climate Action Plan

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — The Green Committee clarified the scope of the Climate Action Plan during its meeting last week to include climate-related hazard mitigation as one of its priorities. 
The primary focus of the request for proposals for the development of an action plan to achieve net zero by 2050 was decarbonization. Climate mitigation was included in the document but was not considered a priority. The deadline for the RFP is April 24.
Everything the community discusses and other towns include mitigation in its Climate Action Plans, Green Committee member Todd Logan said in a follow-up. 
Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson received a question from one of the bidders asking if the committee is interested in including mitigation strategies in the proposal. 
The committee agreed to include mitigation strategies as one of the lower priorities with respect to things that have not been addressed in other documents like the Hazard Mitigation Plan, the Municipal Vulnerability Plan, and Forest Management Plans, among others. 
Climate change poses a risk of wildfires, but it does not appear mitigation efforts have not been thoroughly investigated, Logan said. 
One area of concern is that none of the current plans include fuel management, even though the Senior Center, the town's cooling center, abuts a forest where forest fires can occur.
Fuel refers to any dead vegetation, such as leaves, roots, or standing/fallen trees. The risk of a fire outbreak increases when the area experiences abnormally high temperatures. If wind is present, the fire is more likely to spread.
Although you are never going to be able to get rid of all the fuel as it is part of nature, the Green Committee can work with the department to get community volunteers to go out and clean the trails and some of the underbrush. 
"There's no perfect answer anything in life, but we can help make it safer … I think the town of Dalton Dalton Fire District, the Green Committee, road and bridge. Every department that services the residents of Dalton has a role to play in keeping the town safe," Fire Chief Christian Tobin said. 
"I think if we look at it as a well-tuned transmission, that one gear turns another that if we all pitch in, a lot of hands make for light work." 
For example, if someone is burning something in their back yard and has a large pile that the department can’t reach with water, the Department of Public Works could help by allowing the department to use vehicles, backhoes, and tractors to put dirt on it. 
"Dirt will put out fire just as good as water. It's about utilizing the resources responsibly in each department and being able to work together to do that," Tobin said.
"So everybody has a role and if everybody functions in that role together cooperatively, the better off we'll all be."
The Green Committee will develop educational events to inform residents about climate-related hazard mitigation and ways to address them as part of its on going mission.
The environment and climate is changing, Tobin said.
"It's in the paper every day, we see wild land fires from Hawaii, all the way to the East Coast, from Canada, to Florida, all across this country where communities had been taken unprepared," Tobin said.
It is the Fire Department's priority to make sure residents are burning safety and responsibility and ensure that the town has the resources to respond and mitigate a fire quickly, he said. The quicker the situation is mitigated the sooner everybody can get back to normal life.
Tobin urged the need for the town to invest in equipment to be able to access off road areas that ire engines are not capable of going.
"I'm talking to the Green Committee and want to talk to the town Select Board and the Finance Committee about maybe utilizing [American Rescue Plan funds,] which they still have, which then wouldn't come out of the town's coffers," he said
"It would be using responsibly, the ARPA money that we received from the federal government to properly outfit a wildland vehicle." 
The town needs to have a vehicle capable of four-wheel drive that is capable of going into the back trails and hills. 
Under Massachusetts General Law, a town is required to have a forest warden, which is Tobin. 
Sometimes the responsibilities of the district and the town overlap so addressing these types of emergencies is a shared responsibility "for the community in the common good," Tobin said. "That's where I'm pushing on the town is that there's a responsibility there that can't be ignored. ...
"We don’t want to say to the citizens after the fact that the town did not have the right tools and equipment. "Its our responsibility to repair." 
The town does not need a whole fleet to be able to handle a situation on its own. It needs to have the resources have an initial response that will keep people safe until, if needed, others can come to the town and help, he said.

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Pittsfield Girls Softball to Host New England Regional

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Pittsfield Girls Softball will host the New England Babe Ruth Regional Tournament at the Doyle Softball Complex from June 28 to June 30.
The tournament will feature 15 teams, including the Berkshire Force 12-and-under and 14-and-under travel squads. The event will get under way at 8 a.m. on Friday and run through about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Winners from the tournament will advance to the 40th anniversary Babe Ruth Softball World Series in Florence Ala., in July.
“The Pittsfield Girls Softball League extends its appreciation to the City of Pittsfield and all of our event sponsors for their assistance in making this tournament possible,” PGS President Jack Roy said in a Tuesday news release.
For more information about the tournament, contact Roy at 619-318-3908 or royjack254@aol.com.
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