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There was plenty going on as the Baker-Polito Administration celebrated Earth Week 2016 (April 17-23). Over the course of the week, the Administration awarded millions of dollars in grants to communities across the Commonwealth to support a variety of green initiatives. These projects have included textile recycling, state park cleanup events, enhancements to local hydropower projects, and additional trees and parks in gateway cities. All of these projects are just a small part of the Administration’s aim at generating more cost effective and renewable energy in the Commonwealth, reducing Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring the natural beauty of the land remains intact and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Textile Recycling

On Tuesday, April 19, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), in collaboration with the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR), Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and other non-profit organizations, launched “Worn or Torn, Donate it All,” a new initiative to increase the recovery and reuse of used clothing and household textiles.

The statewide initiative encourages residents to reduce the amount of textile waste that is thrown away by placing unwanted or worn clothing, shoes, linens and other household textiles into local textile drop-off containers or donating them to support charities and local businesses. The Commonwealth’s ambitious goal is to reach a 60 percent recycling rate by 2020, and this initiative will help move us down that path. MassDEP estimates that only 15 percent of reusable textiles in the Commonwealth are being recovered, while 85 percent end up in the trash. The collection and donation of unwanted clothing and other textiles supports a thriving post-consumer textile industry in Massachusetts and across the country.

Individuals can locate textiles recyclers in their area by using the interactive tool on MassDEP’s Beyond the Bin Directory. For more information on textile recovery programs in Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/dep/textile-recovery.

DCR’s 10th Annual Park Serve Day

Also on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced its 10th annual Park Serve Day will take place on Saturday, April 30. This event encourages members of the public to take part in volunteer projects at local state parks and beaches. Projects include cleaning coastlines, clearing trails, planting flowers, painting picnic tables, mowing, weeding and picking up litter. Park Serve Day utilizes the power of the community to restore public parks and beaches to their full beauty just in time for the warm weather and high volume of visitors. To find a Park Serve Day event near you, click here or visit DCR’s website for more information.

Hydropower Funding

On Wednesday, April 20, the Baker-Politio Administration announced over $1 million in funding to support upgrades to hydroelectric facilities in Orange, Ware and West Springfield. These facilities are behind the push to increase the Commonwealth’s clean energy generation.

The upgrades to these facilities are being funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Hydropower Program. These improvements will help facilities annually produce an average of 1.2 million more kilowatt hours of renewable electricity, enough to power 157 average homes in the Commonwealth.

“In filing legislation for the procurement of cost-effective, low-carbon hydropower, our administration recognizes the importance of improving renewable energy facilities to help the Commonwealth continue to lead the way on clean energy, energy efficiency and the adoption of innovative technologies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants to make hydropower facilities more efficient and increasing hydropower production will help us meet our greenhouse gas emissions goals and continue to increase the role of renewables in our energy portfolio.”

The Administration continues to work toward stabilizing and reducing the cost of energy, and hydropower legislation previously filed will help diversify the energy going into the grid and pass savings down to the consumer.

Green Gateway Cities

Also on Wednesday, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded grant funding to Gateway Cities to improve public parks and greenscaping. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton announced grants totaling $5.3 million to help the cities of Attleboro, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Leominster and Methuen design and build four park and trail projects.

“Public parks are essential to the health and economic well-being of urban areas, but cities often lack the resources to plan and develop them,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through this program, we are able to invest in important park projects and help municipalities provide outdoor spaces for their citizens.”

Click here for more information on each city’s project.

Secretary Beaton also joined Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Leo Roy to announce the expansion of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) to include the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, Leominster, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Quincy. The program, which targets the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities, is designed to utilize tree plantings as a way to reduce energy use in urban neighborhoods by lowering heating and cooling costs for residents and businesses.

As part of the program, the Commonwealth will invest over $12 million in energy efficiency and state capital funds over a three-year span to plant 20,000 trees averaging six feet in height within the eight gateway cities. While the GGCP will produce energy savings, it will also provide economic growth and job creation through hiring foresters and tree planting crews.

Learn more about the GGCP and its cities here.

Drinking Water Supply Protection

On Thursday, April 21, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded over $1.1 million in grants to five Massachusetts water suppliers to help protect existing or new wells, as well as surface drinking water supply systems, such as reservoirs. The grants are funded through the Drinking Water Supply Protection (DWSP) Grant Program. The DWSP Grant Program is overseen by EEA and assists in the acquisition of land in fee, a conservation restriction or a watershed preservation restriction for water supply protection and land conservation purposes. Land acquired must be located in existing Department of Environmental Protection-approved drinking water supply areas, or in estimated protection areas for new sources, or in an area identified through an appropriate planning process as suitable for groundwater recharge to an aquifer.

The grants were awarded to Amherst Department of Public Works, Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire District, Marshfield Department of Public Works, Mattapoisett Water and Sewer Department and Westfield Water Resource Department.

Boston Harbor Islands Access and Education

In celebration of Earth Day, April 22, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew A. Beaton announced a $197,040 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for increased access to the park and educational programming, as students from across Boston boarded boats at the Long Wharf ferry terminal to kick-off a new season at the Boston Harbor Islands.

The grant is awarded to Boston Harbor Now which will work with in partnership with the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay to enhance educational programming and provide additional slots for participants.

“By providing funding that will be utilized to increase access to the Boston Harbor Islands, the Baker-Polito Administration is demonstrating its commitment to one of Massachusetts most unique and historic resources,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “It has become increasingly important that state government continues to foster these types of partnerships in order to deliver important educational and recreational opportunities for public benefit.”

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