Farley-Bouvier, Hinds to address energy, environment at town hall-style meeting

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PITTSFIELD — Large solar arrays, state park staffing and climate change.

Those are among the topics likely to surface Monday night, during a town hall-style meeting with state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and state Sen. Adam Hinds, who will answer questions and address concerns regarding energy and the environment.

The event, sponsored by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

The lobbying group has organized similar events across the state to stimulate dialogue between legislators and their constituents, according to its legislative director, Casey Bowers.

"We want a lot of energy around the discussion of climate change, protecting our natural resources and alternative energy sources," Bowers said.

In separate phone interviews with The Eagle, Farley-Bouvier and Hinds, both Pittsfield Democrats, touched on key issues they are addressing with fellow lawmakers on Beacon Hill.

Farley-Bouvier wants to see more full-time Department of Conservation and Recreation employees working in the Berkshires, which has the two largest state parks in Massachusetts: October Mountain State Forest and Pittsfield State Forest.

"We have three DCR rangers in Berkshire County compared to 33 at the Statehouse where they are working security, given the times we're in," she said.

The DCR has proposed trail upgrades across the state, especially at October Mountain and Pittsfield, which are now getting the attention of Gov. Charlie Baker.

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"The good news is, the governor's capital plan that just came out has $2 million set aside for trails," Hinds said.

As for climate change, the senator says the state needs to address the impact of cars and trucks on the air quality.

"We need to reduce the carbon output, which transportation accounts for 40 percent," he said.

Locally, the alternative energy hot topic in recent months has been limiting where large commercial solar arrays can be installed.

Several municipalities this year, including Pittsfield, have banned such solar projects from residential areas.

A proposed solar project between Route 20 and Goose Pond in Lee would involve clear-cutting land. The project was submitted to town planners before Lee could adopt a limit or a ban of large commercial solar farms in residential areas.

Farley-Bouvier says a balance must be struck between solar and protecting open space, encouraging more roof-mounted than ground-mounted solar panels.

"We have acres and acres of rooftops across the state we need to use, rather than cutting down trees to put in solar," she said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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