Landscape surveys in Massachusetts can trace their
roots back to 1929, when Charles W. Eliot, II working with the Governor’s
Committee on Needs and Uses of Open Space, identified key areas for open
space acquisition throughout the state. Only two types of landscapes
were identified – those areas that were proposed open spaces
and areas within which state forests should be acquired. This identification
helped guide the Commonwealth and municipalities with some initial
Comprehensive efforts to identify significant landscapes
in Massachusetts began in earnest in 1933, when The
Trustees of Reservations,
known as the Trustees of Public Reservations, joined the American
of Landscape Architects in sponsoring a statewide Landscape Survey.
the purposes of this survey, a set of categorical landscape types
were chosen as “…kinds of Massachusetts scenery that
are believed to have special character of outstanding value…”.
These categories were: ocean beaches and dunes; moor and seashore
scenic highway roadsides; mountains, valleys and gorges; woodland;
in the coastal plain; and smaller areas of scenic or historical
interests, which was broken down into the historical, the curious
and the restful. A number of places were identified in each category
the state, and best use recommendations for preservation of these
landscapes were made. Acting on the identifications and recommendations
the 1933 Massachusetts Landscape Survey, The Trustees, DCR (then
known as the Department of Conservation) and other entities subsequently
acquired many of these places for their protection and public enjoyment.
In 1980, the challenge of again unifying the direction with which
different interest groups should be approaching land conservation
and this time DCR (then known as the Department of Environmental
Management) took up the gauntlet, undertaking a statewide inventory
of scenic landscapes.
Adapting assessments utilized by the US Forest Service and the
Countryside Commission of Scotland, the consulting team created
that relied on three classifications of scenic quality: “distinctive”, “noteworthy”,
and “common”. Dividing the state into six physiographic
regions and staying away from any densely settled areas, landscapes
based upon a set of scenic feature guidelines that were developed
for each classification for each region. The assessment resulted
in a well-received
(and still heavily utilized) report in 1982 that was accompanied
by a set of USGS
these scenic landscapes.
Only two large-scale, statewide cultural landscape survey efforts
have since been undertaken, both of them thematically based.
These are the
1982 survey of public landscapes designed by the Olmsted firm,
sponsored by the Massachusetts Association for Olmsted Parks
and the Massachusetts
Historical Commission, and the 1995 survey of Civilian Conservation
Corps resources sponsored by DCR (then known as DEM). Both
of these initiatives
started as pilot projects that were then implemented statewide
and resulted in reports presenting the results.
By the mid 1990s, it became clear that in order to be able
to protect community character and promote an integrated planning
further identification of the overall cultural landscape of
to be undertaken. Based upon a proposal prepared in 1997 by
The Trustees of Reservations and PreservatiON
MASS (then known
Inc.), DCR was able to secure funding through the legislature
to develop the Heritage Landscape Inventory Program.