A milestone in Massachusetts as the Bay State celebrates the protection of more than 200,000 acres of land. As our Madeleine Rivera tells us, the preservation isn't just good for the environment it also benefits the economy.
BERKSHIRES, MA -- Growing up in the Berkshires, Ron Smith spent a lot of time outdoors.
"Just by being in the woods all the time and loving the outdoors, I started hunting and fishing on my own," said Smith.
It's that way of life that State Environmental Officials say they're trying to preserve acre by acre.
"Land acquisition, land preservation, land conservation, at the same time while that is good economically, it is also good environmental policy at the same time," said Secretary Rick Sullivan from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
To date, the State Department of Fish and Game and Mass Wildlife have acquired more than 200,000 acres of land. However, conserving land has been a slow process. The agency's first commitment to land conservation dates back to the early 1900s. But, it wasn't until the early 1950s to recently that they've ramped up efforts.
"Forty-thousand acres we've acquired under Governor Patrick in the last seven years, so that's a huge chunk of the 200,000 acres in our history," said Mary Griffin, commissioner of the DFG.
That means green spaces, numerous in the Berkshires, are open to the public for recreational use. It also gives folks like Smith the chance to hunt and fish a multi-million industry in the commonwealth.
"It is widely supported by the hunting and fishing community. They actually pay an additional tax on their licenses that goes directly towards land conservation," said Sullivan.
If it wasn't for land conservation, open spaces could easily fall into the hands of a private developer.
"It's for everybody, not just hunters. It's for hikers, birdwatchers, for everyone, it's great," said Smith.