Latest news from the Massachusetts Forest Alliance

Send Comments to Support Renewable Wood Heat by June 30th

The Department of Energy Resources has filed draft regulations for the Massachusetts Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS) in accordance with the Thermal Act of 2014. These long-awaited regulations define how renewable thermal energy, including biomass or wood heat, may qualify for thermal energy credits under the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). Such renewable energy credits for modern wood heat systems have the potential to encourage more use of locally-grown, sustainably produced wood for heating public and private buildings around the state.

MFA has strong concerns about:

  1. The complexity of the certifications required to show the wood was harvested sustainably,
  2. A prohibition from burning green chips, and
  3. A lack of strong support for stoves and boilers that burn cordwood.

DOER held hearings last week in Amherst and Boston on the proposed APS regulations and associated guidelines for the use of biomass for heating.  We thank those of you who were able to attend one of the hearings and speak in favor of making renewable wood eligible for credits. If you weren’t able to attend and speak at the hearings, we encourage you to submit written comments by the June 30th deadline, particularly about items 1-3 above. (more…)

Funding for Stewardship Program and Foresters for the Birds Eliminated in State Budget

Despite strong support from the Department of Conservation and Recreation as well as the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the upcoming state capital budget includes no funding for the Forest Stewardship program or the Foresters for the Birds Initiative for the fiscal year that begins on July 1st.

MFA as an organization and many of our members have sent letters to Environmental Secretary Mathew Beaton and other state officials urging that money be found to allow the two programs to continue to operate.  We have heard positive feedback about the impact of those efforts, but still await final word on restored funding.

Help MFA Compile a List of Town Bylaws/Regulations that Affect Forestry Uses

Does your town have a local bylaw or regulation that requires you to get some kind of local permit, beyond a Chapter 132 Forest Cutting Permit, to cut timber or do other forestry work?   MFA would like to get copies of any local bylaws/ordinances/road regulations/driveway permits that affect forestry operations.

If you are aware of a town that has some sort of regulation or bylaw that landowners/loggers must comply with to work in the woods, please tell us about it. (more…)

Want to Know More about Mass Timber Construction? Watch a free Webinar!


Design Center rises at UMass

Design Center rises at UMass

Mass timber is a rapidly advancing technology using large panels constructed from multiple layers of wood members that can be utilized as an alternative to steel and concrete to frame a variety of mid- and high-rise building types.

The Wood Products Council has a new Mass Timber Building Systems: Understanding the Options webinar available for viewing online that provides an overview of available mass timber systems, with an emphasis on their advantages and unique design considerations. (more…)

The American Tree Farm System: 75 Years and Growing

The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) celebrated its official 75th Anniversary on June 12th. Founded in 1941 amid concerns about timber supply from family lands and threats such as wildfire, the program was created to help landowners practice good stewardship to ensure their forests continue to provide Americans with the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies that they count on. The Massachusetts Tree Farm Program got going eight years later in 1949.

Today, the challenges and opportunities have grown in size and scope, making the need to engage more landowners in good stewardship through ATFS or other programs, all the more important. For example, the West’s clean water supply that flows through forested watersheds is at high risk of catastrophic wildfire. Wildlife species are threatened by changes to their habitat. And, new global markets for wood are emerging making sustainable wood supplies from family-owned lands all the more essential. (more…)