Monday, July 25, 2016

Mount Greylock State Reservation and State Parks in Massachusetts

Image of Mt. Greylock and an inset of Francis W. Rockwell, one of the
first Commissioners of the Mount Greylock State Reservation. From
The Glory of Greylock, by Francis W. Rockwell, 1921.

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. National Park Service and the month of July is National Parks and Recreation month. It seems only right, therefore, to highlight the state and national parks here in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts State Forests and Parks Service was founded in 1898 as an effort by the Greylock Park Association to protect Mount Greylock, the state’s tallest peak. The association had been established as an effort to save the mountain from the logging and charcoal-making industries that deforested and cut roads into the slopes, but the cost of protecting and maintaining the Association’s land holdings on the mountain soon outweighed the little revenue raised by tolls and admission fees. Several environmental organizations such as the Massachusetts Forest Association, the Trustees of Reservations, and the Appalachian Mountain Club assisted the Greylock Park Association by lobbying the Massachusetts Legislature to purchase Mount Greylock and dedicate it as a State Reservation. This law, Chapter 543 of the Acts and Resolves of 1898, also provided funds for operating expenses and for purchasing more land.

1917 Trail Map for Greylock State Reservation.
From Guide to the Greylock State Reservation (1917)

Further efforts at land conservation in Massachusetts were primarily concerned with fighting reforestation, ensuring water conservation, and restoring wildlife rather than recreational activities such as hiking or camping. Public use of the land increased through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a federal work relief program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which built many of the roads and recreational facilities in the state forests and parks of Massachusetts.

Today, the Division of MassParks, part of the Department for Conservation and Recreation (DCR), maintains almost 300,000 acres of land, including forests, beaches, mountains, trails, and parks throughout Massachusetts. Promoting the parks and recreational facilities is one of DCR’s primary goals, and their website provides a wealth of information and tools for park enthusiasts. Trail maps are easily attainable for many of the parks as downloadable PDFs and MassParks has created a recreational activity search engine to connect you with events and activities going on throughout the state. You can even download the MassParks Adventure Guide app, available via the Apple App Store or Google Play, to add more to your state park and recreational experience. Celebrate National Parks and Recreation month this July by checking out some state parks near you!  

Alexandra Bernson