As the state agency charged with conservation of all plant and animal species in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Department of Fish & Game works in partnership with its Division of Fisheries & Wildlife to identify and protect the most ecologically important habitats throughout Massachusetts. Acquisition of the most important fish and wildlife habitats and natural communities is the top priority of the Habitat and Land Protection Program.
The goals of the program are to protect and perpetuate ecosystems that contain significant fish and wildlife resources, to conserve biological diversity, and to provide adequate routes for public access to the lands and waters of the Commonwealth. The program targets river corridors, wetlands, various types of forested upland, habitat of state-listed endangered, threatened, and special concern species, and high quality examples of various other habitat types. Current holdings stretch from Berkshire County to Cape Cod and the Islands and total more than 186,000 acres.
Funding for the program comes from two principal sources, the largest of which is the Commonwealth’s Open Space Bond authorizations, also known as Environmental Bond Legislation. Open space bond acts must be approved by the State Legislature and Governor, and the annual spending limit is determined by the Secretary of Administration and Finance and approved by the Governor’s office. In fiscal year 2010, the department had over $10 million approved for the land protection program.
Established by law in 1990 with the backing of the state’s sporting community, the aquisition program’s other funding source is the Inland Fish and Game Fund’s Wildlands stamp fund. This fund, which serves as the basis for a budgetary appropriation each fiscal year, derives its revenues primarily from five dollar contributions paid to the department by fishing, hunting, sporting, and trapping license buyers. In addition, individuals and organizations can also make separate donations to the fund. In aggregate, revenues from these sources have generated more than a million dollars annually for protection of wildlife lands.
Recent land acquisitions by the Department are listed by fiscal year on the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife's Land Acquisitions page.