A number of Western Massachusetts communities and a regional economic development agency have been awarded a total of $225,000 in grant funding to support forest stewardship and conservation, including Adams, New Ashford, North Adams and Lever Inc., according to a statement released by the Baker-Polito administration.
The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership provides funding to assist towns in the commonwealth's most rural and forested region to plan for the care of forests in the face of climate change, prepare forest offset projects, and improve nature-based tourism by improving trail networks, infrastructure and educational exhibits.
The projects will help to improve access to outdoor recreation in town and state forests and sell "carbon credits" on town-owned and private forestlands. They also include the development of educational assets for residents and visitors about the importance of forests in reducing the impacts of climate change.
The regional projects will develop a network of local experts to support budding forest-based businesses that will enhance tourism and creatively use the forest products from the region.
"The conservation of the Commonwealth's forests is critical to meet our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. "These projects will leverage this incredible network of forests and trails to drive nature-based tourism and create local jobs, and we are proud to work with these communities toward our shared mission of preserving the Commonwealth's forests and critical habitats for future generations."
Adams received $20,000 for a project that will design kiosks for trailheads at the Greylock Glen Conservation Area and also will prepare preliminary designs for the Forest Center that is envisioned for the Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership.
New Ashford's $20,000 grant will fund the creation of new trails and improve existing trails and parking along a town road to connect the town to the Mount Greylock State Reservation for the first time.
Another $20,000 grant, to North Adams, will be used to inventory trails on all ownerships and, with input from residents and tourist-business owners, create and market a comprehensive trail map for the city to draw more tourists for hiking and walking.
"The communities within the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership region offer incredible natural resources and opportunities for nature-based tourism," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "Our Administration is proud to invest in these rural communities in ways that [drive] economic development and [make] them more resilient to the impacts of climate change."