Our challenge is to honor and preserve Olmsted's legacy – The Boston Globe

With the pandemic, the climate crisis, and deepening political divisions, we have never needed our parks and forests more for respite, carbon capture and storage, and common ground, as we are reminded by Malcolm Gay’s story on the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted (“A green gem burnished anew,” Page A1, June 12). The pressures of development threaten these sanctuaries, and we have an immediate opportunity to protect these lands more permanently.
The Public Lands Preservation Act prevents the sale of these lands without providing a substitute of equal value in size, value, location, and natural resources. In order for the state to meet its carbon neutrality goal by 2050, we must preserve these lands. Their value as a salve for contemporary ills is evident from the substantial increase in visits by residents since the beginning of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Senate version omits this protection and allows sale of these lands, undermining the PLPA’s purpose. Residents of Massachusetts should inform Senate President Karen Spilka and their elected officials in the Legislature senator and representative that the state must pass H.852, which safeguards our natural heritage intact.
Karl Dziura
Tracey Noble

Re “Maps: What Boston could have looked like if Olmsted’s original plans were realized” (BostonGlobe.com, June 12): Egalitarian public green space is the living legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for Boston’s Emerald Necklace. But much of his work has been eroded or never fully realized.
Currently, there are three bills before the Legislature that would provide funding and policies to protect, expand, and restore the Emerald Necklace and lands and waters across the Commonwealth.
The Public Lands Protection Act would require developments on protected public lands to be replaced by land of equivalent environmental and community value.
Major parts of the original Emerald Necklace have disappeared or been degraded due to public works projects, including Wood Island Park in East Boston, the Charlesgate corridor in the Fenway, and the Shattuck Hospital complex in Franklin Park.
A second option would be to amend the economic development bill to allocate robust funding from the American Recovery Plan Act and other sources to support acquisition and restoration of ecologically valuable land.
A third bill would Increase the cap on the conservation land tax-incentive program, which enables private landowners to make donations of conservation land and saves funds for the state.
We urge residents to contact legislators to urge action before this session closes at the end of July.
Steve Long
Director of policy and partnerships, Massachusetts
The Nature Conservancy

Thank you for the wonderful front-page story by Malcolm Gay about the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth and his amazing legacy with the Emerald Necklace. As the article noted, however, the work is not done. Not only are certain areas of the Emerald Necklace bisected by the noise, pollution, and traffic of cars, which Olmsted never intended or designed, but the Muddy River, which he reshaped in order to reduce flooding and address sewage releases, is the most polluted tributary to the Charles River. In 2020, our organization rated it a D minus for E. coli, cyanobacteria, and combined sewer overflows. Truly realizing the potential of Olmsted’s vision for this urban park oasis must include making the necessary investments to clean up the Muddy River.
Emily Norton
Executive director
Charles River Watershed Association
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