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MACC Through the Years
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Known for being an inspiring and skilled educator, attorney, and conservationist, Alexandra Dawson's life was dedicated to protecting wetlands and conservation lands and to ensuring the successful implementation and administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act.

Alexandra's contributions to MACC are innumerable. Among her many accomplishments, she was the co-author of most editions of the MACC Environmental Handbook for Massachusetts Conservation Commissioners, now in its 10th Edition.

   "Have you looked in the MACC handbook? It's in the handbook."

A famous response Alexandra gave to many questions regarding the Wetlands Protection Act and the work of conservation commissions.

 - Photo: Alexandra Dawson  


  • 1956: A housing developer's proposal to drain and fill a marsh in Ipswich was opposed by a small group of residents. They relied on a state law authorizing the creation of local industrial development commissions to argue successfully for the acquisition and protection of the marsh to enhance the community's values. That law suggested the desirability of having a similar state law for local conservation.
  • 1957: The Massachusetts Conservation Commission Act was enacted, giving communities the option to establish conservation commissions to act as advocates for the natural environment, prepare appropriate conservation plans, and manage conservation lands. (Later legislation amended the Act to broaden those powers.) Eight municipalities established conservation commissions the next year.
  • 1960: Nineteen municipalities had conservation commissions. As authorized by the Massachusetts Self-Help Act of 1960, the MA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) created a program under which local conservation commissions could be reimbursed up to fifty percent of the costs of acquiring open space. DNR began educating local officials and organizations about the Conservation Commission Act.
  • 1961: MACC was founded as an unincorporated association to educate conservation commissions and with a goal that each community in Massachusetts establish a conservation commission. DNR published the Revised Manual for Municipal Conservation Commissions, listing MACC as an organization that could help conservation commissions and suggesting that commissions join MACC as members. The MA Self-Help Program offered up to eighty percent reimbursement for local conservation land acquisitions. Ninety municipalities had established conservation commissions. (By the mid-1980s, every MA municipality had established a conservation commission.)
  • 1968: MACC and DNR prepared and published The Massachusetts Conservation Commission Handbook.
  • 1972: The MA Wetlands Protection Act was enacted, giving conservation commissions the regulatory responsibility to implement the Act. First MACC Annual Meeting held. MACC adopted its first bylaws.
  • 1973: MACC prepared and published the Massachusetts Conservation Commission Handbook, Third Edition. MACC's office was in Park Square, Boston. MACC granted 501(c)(3) status.
  • 1978: Articles of Organization approved for the Massachusetts Conservation Service Corporation to perform the functions and carry out the purposes of MACC. MACC prepared and published the Environmental Handbook for Massachusetts Conservation Commissioners, Fourth Edition. MACC's office was at Tufts University.
  • 1981: MACC presented its first Environmental Service Award.
  • 1982: Fifth Edition of the Environmental Handbook published.
  • 1983: Articles of Organization of Massachusetts Conservation Service Corporation amended; name changed to Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions.
  • 1985: Sixth Edition of the Environmental Handbook published.
  • 1988: MACC's office moved to Habitat, 10 Juniper Road, Belmont, MA (the current location).
  • 1991: Seventh Edition of the Environmental Handbook published. MACC provided model non-zoning wetlands bylaws that municipalities might adopt.
  • 1992: US EPA Region 1 presented MACC an Environmental Merit Award.
  • 1993: First MACC Fall Conference.
  • 1997: MACC's Fundamentals for Conservation Commissioners certificate training program (Fundamentals) began. Eighth Edition of the Environmental Handbook published.
  • 2002: MACC's Advanced Certificate training program began. MACC Annual Meeting renamed Annual Environmental Conference.
  • 2006: Ninth Edition of the Environmental Handbook published.
  • 2007: Fiftieth anniversary of the Conservation Commission Act. MACC organized Conservation Commission Day at the MA State House.
  • 2009: MACC established its Frederick J. Fawcett II Education Fund.
  • 2011: MACC celebrated its Fiftieth anniversary.
  • 2012: MACC prepared and published the MA Runoff, Erosion & Sediment Control Field Guide. The first webinar of a Fundamentals unit is given. Advanced Certificate training program formally discontinued. MACC established its Alexandra Dawson Legal Action Fund.
  • 2013: Tenth (and first online) Edition of the Environmental Handbook published.
  • 2014: MACC established its David Standley Fund for Stormwater, Climate Change, and Sea Level Rise.
  • 2015: Fundamentals expanded to nine units, adding the unit: Protecting Wildlife Habitat.
  • 2016: Fundamentals expanded to eleven units, adding two units: Effective Erosion and Sediment Control; and Stormwater Requirements for Wetlands Protection.
  • 2017: Orientation for New Conservation Commissioners, online and available 24/7, begins. Through text, videos, and quiz questions, it provides the basics on the roles and responsibilities of a conservation commission and the requirements of the Wetlands Protection Act. It gives new commissioners important information they can use immediately and is a bridge to Fundamentals training they should take next.
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FUNDAMENTALS UNIT 101 Webinar-Overview of Conservation Commissions- WEBINAR


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Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC)
10 Juniper Road
Belmont, MA 02478
Phone: (617) 489 - 3930
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