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Massachusetts Inks Memorandum to Launch Transportation and Climate Initiative
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:09AM / Tuesday, December 22, 2020
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BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday hailed a step forward to combat climate change by reducing the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.   The Transportation and Climate Initiative Program aims to reduce those emissions by 26 percent in its first decade and generate revenue that will fund climate resiliency efforts throughout the region.   The right wing Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance immediately went on the offensive, releasing a statement that claimed the multistate initiative would result in "an increase in gas prices up to 38 cents per gallon with very small emissions cuts."   TCI advocates have pegged the potential impact on

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Rest of the River Cleanup Expected to Take 15 Years
12:03PM / Thursday, December 17, 2020
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BOSTON — After years of studies and negotiations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to oversee a $576 million cleanup of the Housatonic River over the next 15 years.    A "Revised Final Permit" for the Rest of River cleanup plan has been issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act spells out the required cleanup measures to be followed by General Electric Co. to remove contamination caused by polychlorinated biphenyls used in the manufacture of transformers at its former Pittsfield plant.   The final permit updates EPA's 2016 cleanup plan for the river, its floodplains and other surrounding areas.   The permit requires GE to

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Williamstown Planners Told to Focus on 'Micro' Model for Pot Bylaw
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:01AM / Sunday, December 13, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For more than a year, the Planning Board has been hearing from people with strong opinions about whether the town should allow outdoor cannabis cultivation.   On Thursday, one member made a plea for comments who are not quite as invested in the issue.   "I'd like to hear from the massive middle of people," Peter Beck said.   "We're going to hear those [strong advocates], and there's a reason they're the ones who are most interested. But you've got a much larger portion of the town. … That's the stress testing I'd like to know. Maybe it's not possible before you put [a bylaw amendment] up

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Williamstown Nonprofit Seeks CPA Funds for Agricultural Restriction
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:34AM / Thursday, December 03, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation plans to ask the town for Community Preservation Act funds to support an Agricultural Preservation Restriction for a property on Green River Road.   WRLF Executive Director David McGowan was before the Agricultural Commission last week to ask that body for a letter of support for the application he plans to bring to the Community Preservation Committee next month.   Rural Lands is working with the owners of Fairfield Dairy Farm to secure an APR from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture for "approximately 20 acres" McGowan told the commission, which voted unanimously to support the

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State Declares 'Green Friday' in Support of Local Xmas Tree Farms
03:29PM / Friday, November 27, 2020
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UXBRIDGE, Mass. — The Baker-Polito administration has declared Friday, Nov. 27, as "Green Friday" to encourage people across the commonwealth to visit their local farms and nurseries for Christmas trees, holiday plants, and holiday decorating needs.   To celebrate, state Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux participated in a Christmas tree-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge. In an effort to support the commonwealth's Christmas tree industry, the declaration of Green Friday encourages people throughout the state to visit their local Christmas tree farms to purchase their trees, holiday plants, ornamental swags, and wreaths to

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Greenagers Offers Youth Nature-Based Work Amidst Pandemic
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
07:11AM / Thursday, November 26, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local youth environment community group has not let COVID-19 halt its stride.

Greenagers has continued its commitment to outdoor programming amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic to offer teenagers and young adults nature-based work and socially distant connections.

Executive Director Will Conklin and Conservation Director Elia Del Molino felt it was appropriate to extend this programming into the fall and winter this year so that members will continue to have meaningful and safe work and connections.

"We are so grateful for companies and organizations that utilize our services and give us work to teach and learn about the importance of our natural

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Williamstown Planners Developing Plan to Link Pot Grow Area to Setbacks
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:50AM / Monday, November 16, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board last week began filling in some of the blanks in a new cannabis production bylaw it hopes to send to town meeting in the spring.   And it agreed to try to set up a panel discussion with outside experts for early December.   The board has been working on the marijuana question almost exclusively since the failure of its proposed bylaw at August's annual town meeting. The planners are conscious of two concerns raised in the run-up to and in the wake of that meeting: confusion over contradictory proposals from the Planning Board and the town's farming community and criticism that the 2019-20 Planning Board process did not engage

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Transportation & Climate Initiative Touted for Benefits to Rural Communities
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
06:04AM / Sunday, November 15, 2020
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State  WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A multi-state plan to reduce carbon emissions and invest in more sustainable transportation could be in action as soon as 2022, advocates said last week.   And local leaders are working to make sure that rural areas don't get left behind.   The Transportation and Climate Initiative, which looks to replicate the model of the 2007's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, seeks to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, create a market for distributors of fossil fuels to buy allowances and invest the proceeds of those sales into cleaner transportation.   By the end of this year, the 12 states and District of

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Butterflies Like it Hot at Mountain Meadow
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
02:26PM / Sunday, October 25, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Adventuresome butterflies highlight the widespread nectar oases in a special habitat teaming with nectar to meet their spurious flight demands.    Thanks to lucid awareness of the ecological value of so many concurrent species — upwards to 30 — the Trustees of Reservations has saved these 20 acres called Mountain Meadow Preserve. Although seldom seen altogether since they have different flight periods, and separate nectar preferences, a surprising assortment of butterflies can be seen imbibing at the same plant.    What a potpourri! Hardly a dull moment in July.   Milkweed reached peak bloom by July 1 with signs of

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Williamstown Planning Board, Ag Commission Work on Cannabis Production Bylaw
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
11:12AM / Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two town committees are working on parallel paths to bring next year's annual town meeting a cannabis cultivation bylaw on which voters can agree.   Specifically, the Planning Board and Agricultural Commission hope to find language that two-thirds of the meeting participants can support in order to replace an outdated bylaw put on the books in May 2017 mostly as a "placeholder" to respond to the November 2016 passage of a public question that decriminalized marijuana in the commonwealth.   Since that time, the state's Cannabis Control Commission has defined ground rules for production in Massachusetts, and the town has seen one

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