Implementation of the Forest Futures Visioning Process:  Landscape Designations for DCR State and Urban Parks


April 2012: DCR Releases Final Landscape Designations

The final version of the Landscape Designations for DCR Parks and Forests: Selection Criteria and Management Guidelines pdf format of    management_guidelines.pdf  file size 6MB is now available. This report includes not only the Management Guidelines, but also the final Landscape Designations – a series of maps are located at the end of the report in the Appendix.

The Management Guidelines, without the final Landscape Designations, was presented to the DCR Stewardship Council on March 2, 2012 for their review and consideration.  The final Landscape Designations have since been incorporated into the report.

Background:  Forest Futures Visioning Process, April 2009 – April 2010

DCR convened the Forest Futures Visioning Process in April 2009 to seek input on its stewardship and management of the 308,000 acres of forest lands within the state parks system, and to develop a renewed vision for these lands taking into account their attributes and place in the overall context of the state’s 3 million acres of public and private forests. The goals were to consider the range of public benefits and values associated with forests and to generate recommendations to guide DCR’s future forest stewardship.

As part of the process, an 11-member Technical Steering Committee, composed of individuals with expertise in the various values associated with forests, was formed to develop recommendations to DCR. This Committee received input from an Advisory Group of Stakeholders as well as from the general public. Opportunities for public input included five public forums that collectively attracted more than 500 participants, approximately 450 written submissions, and more than 250 responses to an on-line survey.

The Technical Steering Committee presented its final recommendations to DCR in April 2010. The Patrick Administration accepted and embraced the core Forest Futures recommendations pdf format of    Technical Steering Committee (TSC) Final Recommendation  file size 2MB .

Fall 2010: Selection Criteria and Management Guidelines

DCR kicked off the Landscape Designation process in Fall 2010 to implement a key recommendation of the Forest Futures Visioning Process: allocating DCR State and Urban parklands into three different designations to clarify management objectives and uses. Those designations are Parklands, Reserves, and Woodlands.

This new paradigm is centered on setting priorities for stewardship based on the ecosystem services these lands can sustainably provide. In addition, certain activities and uses will be separated among the designations. Importantly, commercial timber harvesting will not take place in Parklands or Reserves. Woodlands, however, will be actively managed through timber harvesting.

The Technical Steering Committee also provided a recommended allocation of acreage for each category. In April 2010, then-EEA Secretary Ian Bowles accepted this recommendation with a specific direction that reflected the Committee’s recommended allocation – namely, that at least 60 percent of the land would be allocated as Parklands and Reserves – and at the same recognizing the importance of Woodlands within the parks system.

This recommendation and the Patrick Administration’s policy direction are the starting point for the Landscape Designation process.

The series of seven public workshops and the public comment period held in Fall 2010/Winter 2011 sought input on how to accomplish the designation process, focusing on what criteria to use to select lands for each designation and how to manage the Parklands, Reserves, and Woodlands within the framework set out by the Technical Steering Committee.

Spring 2011: Draft Landscape Designations

DCR hosted seven public workshops in May and June 2011 to seek public input on the application of landscape designations for DCR properties. At the workshops, DCR presented the statewide context for the draft designations and hosted a public dialogue focused on park land in that particular region of the Commonwealth.