NCSL Logo 2018 Online Democracy Award Winner
Skip to Content
The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 24: Conservation districts; supervisors' powers and duties

Section 24. A conservation district and its supervisors shall, in addition to any other powers granted under sections 21 to 25, inclusive, have the following powers and duties:

(1) To conduct surveys, investigations and research relating to the conservation and development of natural resources, the control and prevention of soil erosion, the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and the conservation, development utilization and disposal of water, and the preventive and control measures needed, to publish the results of such surveys, investigations or research, and to disseminate information concerning such preventive and control measures; provided, that in order to avoid duplication of research activities no district shall initiate any research program except in co-operation with the proper authorities of the commonwealth or its departments, boards or commissions, or with the United States or any of its agencies.

(2) To carry out preventive and control measures within the district including, but not limited to, engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, changes in use of land, and measures for the purposes mentioned in paragraph (1), on lands owned or controlled by the commonwealth or any of its departments, boards or commissions, with the co-operation of the department, board or commission administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district at the request or with the consent of the occupier of such land or upon obtaining the necessary rights or interests therein.

(3) To co-operate or enter into agreements with, and within the limits of funds available to the district, including appropriations duly made by law, to furnish financial or other aid to any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any occupier of lands within the district in the carrying on of measures for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2), subject to such conditions as the supervisors may deem necessary.

(4) To acquire and to make available, on such terms as they shall prescribe to land occupiers within the district, necessary machinery, equipment and materials to assist such land occupiers to carry on operations upon their lands for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2).

(4A) To: (i) acquire by purchase, exchange, gift, grant, bequest or otherwise, any ownership interests and rights in real property located within the boundaries of the district and in personal property; (ii) hold such real and personal property interest in the name of the conservation district; (iii) subject to law and the nature of such interest, maintain, administer and improve any such property so acquired; (iv) receive income from such property and to expend any such income to carrying out the purposes and provisions of the conservation district as provided under sections 21 to 25, inclusive; and (v) sell, lease or dispose of such property or interests therein; provided, however, that interests in real property and personal property shall be acquired for conservation purposes and shall not be used or disposed of except in furtherance of such conservation purposes; provided further, that upon acquisition by a conservation district, such ownership interest and restricted purpose in real property shall be recorded in the name of the district in the registry of deeds or land court for the jurisdiction wherein the property is located; and provided further, that all such property, including any income realized from such property or upon sale thereof, shall be exempt from taxation for state, county and municipal purposes and from betterments and special assessments.

(5) To construct, improve, operate and maintain such structures as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the operations authorized by sections eighteen to twenty-five, inclusive.

(6) To develop comprehensive plans for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2) which shall specify in such detail as may be practicable the acts, procedures, performances and avoidances which are necessary or desirable for accomplishing such plans, including the specification of engineering operations, methods of cultivation, growing of vegetation, cropping programs, tillage practices, and changes in use of land; and to publish plans and information and bring them to the attention of occupiers of lands within the conservation district.

(7) To accept contributions or appropriations in money, services, materials, or otherwise, for carrying on their operations, from federal agencies, or from the commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof, or from any person, firm or corporation.

(8) To sue and be sued in the name of the conservation district; to have a common seal which shall be judicially noticed; to have perpetual succession unless terminated as herein provided; to make and execute contracts and other instruments, necessary or convenient to the exercise of their powers; to make, and from time to time amend or repeal, rules and regulations to carry into effect the purposes and powers of the district.

(9) As a condition to extending any benefits under sections eighteen to twenty-five, inclusive, to, or performing work upon, any lands not owned or controlled by the commonwealth or any of its departments, boards or commissions, the supervisors may establish reasonable fees with the approval of the commission, and may ask for contributions in money, services, materials or otherwise to any operations conferring such benefits, and may ask land occupiers to enter into and perform such agreements or covenants as to the permanent use of such lands as the supervisors deem appropriate.

(10) To periodically review the natural resource management and management policies of state owned land within their respective districts and to advise the state commission from time to time as to their findings, if any.

(11) To adopt by-laws following a public hearing governing the operation of their districts, subject to the approval of the state commission.

(12) To elect by majority vote, a representative to the conservation district division in which the district is located.