The Recorder – Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership prepares to send draft plan to towns

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The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership is preparing to send municipalities a final draft of its 2022 Organizational Plan Review that will help guide the partnership in its goals and priorities for the next decade.

“We’ve been hard at work over the last six weeks or so, really building on the previous plan from 2015,” said Lisa Hayden, administrative officer of the New England Forestry Foundation’s Partnerships and Outreach Manager. “The regional planning agencies – Berkshire Regional Planning (Commission) and (Franklin Regional Council of Governments) – really did the heavy lifting on the initial plan and did a great job of putting together basic statistics, really talking about land cover in the partnership, on people and communities.

The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, formed in 2013, is a community-based program focused on forest conservation and support for sustainable management in conjunction with economic development in rural communities. According to the organization’s website, the partnership is a collaboration between FRCOG, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Franklin Land Trust, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, a U.S. Forest Service Liaison and an advisory committee. There are 17 member cities in the partnership, including the Franklin County towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Rowe and Shelburne.

What the partnership has done, Hayden said in a meeting last week, is update piece by piece the information that was already organized in the 2015 plan, including double-checking quotes and updating census data day.

“We’re in really good shape in terms of the baseline information we needed,” Hayden said, crediting his assistant Sophie Argetsinger for compiling much of it.

Hayden explained to members of the advisory committee that the first four chapters of the plan focus on the main priorities of the partnership, including forest conservation, economic development of natural resources – which covers forestry, recreation and employment – and the municipal/financial sustainability.

The final three chapters, meanwhile, focus on the partnership between the region, the state, and the US Forest Service.

“I think we’ve made good progress,” Hayden said. “I’m personally not totally happy with the plan at this point. … I think most of the ingredients are there, but I still feel like there’s a bit more tweaking to reflect the good work that all of the standing committees have started doing over the last year… as we talk about where the funding is coming from.

While there’s still some work to be done to refine the plan, Hayden said she believes the partnership is “in good shape to start sharing the review with municipalities and getting public feedback.”

“We look forward to the participation of municipal representatives on the board to present the draft to the public,” said board chair Henry “Hank” Art. “At this point, this is a document generated primarily by internal reviews and we need public feedback.”

Doug McNally, a board member representing Windsor, suggested that the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership reach out to coordinators of cities’ Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) plans, aimed at addressing the local effects of climate change. .

“The two are so intertwined that it’s impossible not to see this plan as something that is a regional plan that responds to local MVP plans,” McNally said.

Hayden said while the goal is to review the document for a 10-year update, the plan itself should be seen as a living document and will be subject to annual review.

She noted that work has begun on a draft budget to support the goals and priorities of the plan. In the meantime, however, the goal is to start reaching out to cities to hopefully appear before selection committees in April and May.

“It would be helpful to have (the priorities) one, two, three – the most important types of (grants) that we want to pursue – and really set a timeline for when we want to do that over the next year. or two,” she said. “There is more to come, but we are making progress.”

Journalist Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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