Land Protection & Planning
The most critical component of conserving the state's rare and common biodiversity is habitat protection. Acquiring important habitat is the primary function of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife's (DFW) Land Protection Program. The DFW currently owns over 155,000 acres, or roughly 240 square miles, distributed across the Commonwealth. Click here for maps of most of these Wildlife Management Areas.
In recent years, the DFW land protection program has worked with an annual land acquisition budget of approximately 5 million dollars. About $1.5 million is generated from the DFW's Wildlands Conservation Stamp (also called the Land Stamp) program, which comes from a $5.00 fee added to the sale of each hunting and fishing license sold in Massachusetts. The rest of the funding has come from Open Space Bond funds made available by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and administered by the Department of Fish and Game.
The primary goal of the DFW land protection program is to acquire land to protect and perpetuate ecosystems that contain significant fishing or hunting resources and to conserve the biological diversity of the state, particularly those sites which support rare species and exemplary natural communities. To help achieve this goal, the agency has established a Lands Committee that is responsible for identifying, reviewing, and prioritizing all potential acquisitions. The Lands Committee is comprised of individuals from each of the three DFW natural resource sections (Fisheries, Wildlife, and the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program), representatives from each District office (the District Manager and the land negotiator), and the members of the realty staff from the agency's Boston office.
To spend scarce land acquisition funds most efficiently, for about the past ten years DFW has pursued a proactive stand in planning open space protection. State-wide assessments, looking for hotspots of unprotected rare species sites, for appropriate lands to buffer existing Wildlife Management Areas, and for representation of all of the state’s ecological biodiversity, have lead the Division to focus its acquisitions towards critical properties. The Natural Heritage Program plays a lead role is compiling and assessing this information, to inform and advise the Lands Committee where best to buy land for open space protection.
Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Properties, 2004