|The Metropolitan Beaches Commission at the State House|
On January 30th, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s staff and interns were on hand to witness policy in action at the Massachusetts State House for the meeting of the The Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC). This Commission collaborates with the state legislature to recommend improvements for our urban beaches and works with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on many beach conservation projects.
A recent budget cut for DCR has called into question the future of the beach conservation projects by the DCR as well as the programs held by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay on our urban beaches.
Over the years since the Commission was formed, its members have been able to see the improvements made with DCR take shape in the communities. Senator McGee, Co-Chair of the MBC, recalled the algae problem in Nahant. The smell of the algae became so unbearable that it actually deterred people from visiting the beach. Through the DCR’s hard work, the algae was removed and people were able to enjoy the beach again. DCR was also able to provide better landscaping, increased staffing, and facility updates that made the beach even more enjoyable.
Along with the potential for algae problems to make for an unpleasant beach day, the decreased budget may force DCR to reduce staffing and cut maintenance projects that could improve the beaches as a whole. A decrease in budget means that the funding for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Better Beaches Program has been decimated as well. These programs are not only a great opportunity for children and families in nearby communities to take advantage of Boston’s great beach resources, but they also showcase these urban beaches.
Representative RoseLee Vincent, Co-Chair of the Commission, said, “it’s a shame we’ve come so far and now we seem to be going backwards,” noting that Revere Beach is lacking in the cleanliness and staffing that it once had. The Commissioners’ shared goal has always been the improvement of Boston’s beaches for both their recreational and their environmental values. Our metropolitan beaches are an important resource, and as some of the cleanest urban beaches in the country, they are truly beaches we can be proud of. With the recent budget cuts it is unclear whether we will be able to maintain the beach quality that we have seen, but the MBC will continue to work to make this possible.
Soon, the MBC will hold a hearing and work to publicize what this budget cut means to the future of the beaches and how it will affect the quality of life for the thousands that call these beaches home. This hearing will gather supporters to advocate for the importance of restoring the budget in maintaining and improving the quality of our urban beaches.
Click here to read more about the MBC and learn more about what the Commission has done with the help of DCR to improve our beaches in their 2014 report, Waves of Change. For even more updates, like Save the Harbor/Save the Bay on Facebook!