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The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has deep roots in the preservation of the Massachusetts landscape, growing from the former Metropolitan Park System (1893), the nation’s first regional park system, and from one of the country’s first state parks systems (1898). Built over a century of preservation and stewardship, the Massachusetts state parks are a rare collection of buildings, sites, monuments and landscapes that reflect our shared history. As a leader in landscape preservation, DCR has developed innovative programs to preserve the cultural landscapes in the state parks and beyond, which we celebrate as part of Preservation Month: Stories in Stone.

This year DCR is pleased to partner with the Friends of Borderland State Park in preserving the historic Rock Garden at Borderland State Park. The garden had become severely overgrown, and a 1977 planting scheme had introduced hundreds of maintenance-intensive plants. With the goal of returning the balance of vegetation and stonescape and lessening the maintenance burden, DCR developed a rehabilitation plan. Contributions from the Friends were matched by DCR, and work began last fall. This spring work will be complete with additional plantings and iron fencing.

The award-winning Terra Firma technical bulletin series is a cornerstone of the public education arm of DCR’s Historic Landscape Preservation Initiative. The bulletins cover landscape preservation fundamentals as well as emerging issues. Delivered in a non-academic format and beautifully illustrated, Terra Firma gets information into the hands of professionals and non-professionals alike. This year DCR was pleased to reissue a revised and updated version of Terra Firma #2: Caring for Mature Trees covering basic tree care as well new information on threats to historic trees such as the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer. All publications are free. To be added to our mailing list, please visit the program website http://www.mass.gov/dcr/stewardship/histland/publications.htm.

DCR’s Historic Cemetery Preservation Initiative has helped communities and our own park staff tackle the tough job of preserving historic burial grounds and cemeteries. DCR’s own inventory includes 70 cemeteries – from the Shurcliff-designed Quabbin Park Cemetery to multiple family plots in our forests and parkland. This spring DCR will once again work with a professional conservator to stabilize priority gravestones at Quabbin Park Cemetery as part of an ongoing preservation maintenance program. DCR’s Cemetery Preservation Guidelines have been distributed to cities and towns in Massachusetts and used as a model for cemetery preservation across the nation. A CD-Rom of the Guidelines was included in the 2011 release of Terra Firma #10 Mourning Glory: Preserving Historic Cemeteries at a DCR sponsored Historic Cemetery Preservation workshop attended by over 200 people.

DCR’s projects and educational programs promote the preservation of the Massachusetts landscape and the protection of special places that improve our quality of life. But everyone can be a steward of our cultural heritage. Start by learning more during DCR’s Preservation Month.

Written By:


Commissioner, Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)

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