Join us for the sixth annual state-wide gathering for municipal Open Space Committees, volunteers, and others involved in the development and implementation of community-based conservation planning and projects.

The conference will take place every Thursday in March, with seminars during the afternoon (2:00pm-3:30pm) and networking sessions in the evening (7pm – 8pm).


Open Space From Planning to Implementation – March 4, 2021 at 2:00pm-3:30pm


  1. Melissa Cryan, Division of Conservation Services
  2. Rebecca Longvall, Conservation Administrator, Bolton, MA
  3. Kristina Madsen, Southampton, MA


How do you write an Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP), and why does a town even need one? Where does funding for conservation projects come from? How does a plan get implemented – and what happens when the process turns messy? This seminar explores the end-to-end planning of open space, from writing and updating the seven-year plan and finding funding to the tools available. Melissa Cryan will provide an overview of the OSRP process. Rebecca Longvall will explore Bolton, MA’s use of state grants and other funding mechanisms to acquire new open space. Finally, Kristina Madsen will share the story of her town’s experience with Right of First Refusal. 

Networking – Planning and Implementation – March 4, 2021 at 7pm-8pm


Peer-to-Peer Troubleshooting: Discuss challenges faced by your OSC and get feedback and suggestions from your peers. 

Protecting and Building Resilience in Local Green Spaces – March 11, 2021 at 2:00pm-3:30pm

Speakers: 1. Jennifer Hughes, Environmental Program Manager at Merrimack Valley Planning Commission 2. Robert O’Connor, Office of the General Counsel Specializing in Land and Forests 3. Vandana Rao, Chair of the Drought Management Task Force

Description: The second week of the 2021 MA Open Space Conference will focus on open spaces’ ecological importance, and the various resources available to protect them.  Speakers will help guide open space committees to build a solid understanding of the value, rules, regulation, and resources around the protection and conservation of open space wetlands and forests. Open Space Committee members should walk away with a basic understanding of the different types of open spaces, the pressures these habitats are facing and how conservation can help build climate reliance in Massachusetts.

Networking – Green Spaces – March 11, 2021 at 7pm-8pm


The second week of the conference’s networking sessions will be a peer-to-peer speed networking format using zoom breakout rooms. This space can be used to discuss how your fellow attendees tackle conserving forests and wetlands for their towns.

How to Build and Maintain Trails and Increase Recreation – March 18, 2021 at 2:00pm-3:30pm


Malcolm MacGregor, Plymouth Open Space Committee member, volunteer trail steward, Chair of Plymouth Planning Board

Tom Chamberland, Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board, Sturbridge Trails Committee


Recreational opportunities, such as trails and urban green spaces, are vital for getting residents out in nature and gaining community support for conservation. Is your town interested in developing trails and increasing recreational opportunities in your open spaces?  The third week of the Massachusetts Open Space Conference will feature speakers with case studies and information to towns looking to conceptualize, build support, and raise funds for trail development and increasing recreational opportunities.

Networking – Trails and Recreation – March 18, 2021 at 7pm-8pm


The Trails and Recreation networking session will be a space for those working toward developing recreational opportunities in their towns – trails, urban space, waterfront access, or otherwise – to come together and share their ideas, experiences, and expertise.  Come with success stories, questions, and ideas. The goal of this session is for you to form connections to achieve your town’s recreational goals!

How to Conduct Outreach, Network, and Maintain Relationships – March 25, 2021 at 2:00pm-3:30pm


  1. Erika O. Jerram, Deputy Director of Planning and Community Development, City of Framingham
  2. Dave Small, President of the Athol Bird and Nature Club and the Director of the Miller River Environmental Center. He is also a member of the Athol Open Space and Recreation Committee
  3. Colin Novick, Executive Director of the Greater Worcester Land Trust


In the fourth week of the 2021 MA Open Space Conference we will focus on community outreach and networking. Outreach, networking, and maintaining relationships are key to successful open space projects. It is our goal that OSC members will leave this session feeling more confident in their ability to engage with members of their community. Engagement can come in many forms such as recruiting new members and volunteers, reaching a more diverse audience, and discovering new methods of collaboration.

Networking – Community Engagement – March 25, 2021 at 7pm-8pm


The community outreach networking session will be facilitated by Jonathan Haarstick, the Community Engagement Coordinator and AmeriCorps member at Sudbury Valley Trustees. The night will feature a virtual beer tasting conducted by Brett Peruzzi – a writing and editing consultant, freelance journalist, contributor to Yankee Brew News, and adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University. There will be breakout sessions to chat with your fellow attendees and planned group activities.

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