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  • Acts
  • 2002
  • Chapter 499 AN ACT RELATIVE TO CERTAIN LANDS IN THE TOWNS OF PELHAM, BELCHERTOWN, SUNDERLAND AND LEVERETT AND PLACING CERTAIN LAND IN THE TOWN OF DEERFIELD UNDER AN AGRICULTURAL PRESERVATION RESTRICTION.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. The parcels of state land, identified in section 2 and under the care, custody and control of the University of Massachusetts, are hereby dedicated to the purposes and uses of forest and open space protection, management and conservation, environmental education, environmental research and public access for passive recreation and enjoyment. Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit the construction, maintenance, repair, use or removal of buildings and facilities, and appurtenant underground utility systems, required for and directly related to environmental education, environmental research and open space conservation or passive recreation on the parcels described in section 2. The university, in consultation with the executive office of environmental affairs, may adopt reasonable rules or regulations for the appropriate use and manner of public access under this act.

SECTION 2. The parcels are identified as follows:- (a) all of the lands, including lands under water, in the towns of Sunderland and Leverett as described in certain deeds recorded in the Franklin district registry of deeds in book 577, page 335; book 577, page 336; and book 577, page 337, and further shown on a plan recorded in the Franklin district registry of deeds in plan book 7, page 18; and (b) all of the lands, including lands under water, in the towns of Pelham and Belchertown as described in certain deeds recorded in the Hampshire district registry of deeds in book 1104, page 118; and book 1104, page 119.

SECTION 3. The executive office of environmental affairs may expend funds or provide services, not to exceed $500,000, on the parcels described in section 2 for demonstration projects which will pilot approaches to forest management that include protection and enhancement of biodiversity and watershed uses. The executive office of environmental affairs may use these demonstration projects to educate private and public forest owners across the commonwealth in biodiversity and watershed forest management. The University of Massachusetts shall retain care, custody and control of the parcels and all management and maintenance responsibilities and obligations associated therewith.

SECTION 4. The land and buildings owned by the University of Massachusetts located on River road in the town of Deerfield identified by lots number 9, 10, and 12 on Map number 17 of the Deerfield assessor's maps, and lot number 35 on Map number 13 of the Deerfield assessor's maps shall be protected by an agricultural preservation restriction, so called, under the provisions of section 11A of chapter 132A and sections 31, 32, and 33 of chapter 184 of the General Laws. The agricultural preservation restriction shall be held by the department of food and agriculture, and shall contain provisions for the possible construction of facilities that are related to the agricultural programs at the university and are consistent with the preservation and enhancement of agricultural activity on the property. The land and buildings owned by the University of Massachusetts located on River road in the town of Deerfield identified as lot number 36 on Map number 13 of the Deerfield assessor's maps shall be protected by an agricultural preservation restriction and conservation restriction, so-called, under the provisions of sections 31, 32, and 33 of chapter 184 of the General Laws. The agricultural preservation restriction and conservation restriction shall be held jointly by the department of food and agriculture and the department of environmental management, and shall contain provisions of the possible construction of incidental research facilities and conduct of research related to academic programs of the university.

SECTION 5. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst may enter into lease agreements with area farmers for agricultural production on any portion of lot numbers 9, 10, 12, and 35 described in section 4 for the express purpose of enhancing and promoting the agricultural use of the property. The University of Massachusetts Foundation, Inc. is also authorized to enter into the lease agreements on behalf of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst may also enter into agreements with the department of food and agriculture to administer the lease agreements under the state owned farmland stewardship program, so-called, as established by sections 13 to 19, inclusive, of chapter 20 of the General Laws. Revenues from any lease agreements described herein shall be deposited either in a restricted account at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, or in a restricted account in the University of Massachusetts Foundation, Inc., for the express purpose of enhancing the agricultural programs of the university. The funds shall be expended upon the written approval of the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Approved January 1, 2003.