A Victory for the Environment

The USA is losing 6,000 or so acres of open space every day. But here in the Valley, about 640 acres of farmland and forestland were permanently protected from development. A land trust based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, about 9 miles from Greenfield, announced the news on August 2.

The land trust, which has a web site at www.FranklinLandTrust.org, saved about 532 acres of forestland in the Massachusetts towns of Plainfield and Cummington, which border each other and are about 18 miles from Northampton. The land trust protected 108 acres of farmland in Hadley, Massachusetts, which borders Northampton.

Land trusts get a significant share of their money from the government. Politicians decide how much to invest in protecting open space versus prison for non-violent people, tax cuts for billionaires, and war.

The below map shows the open space that has been protected in the Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire. The map was current as of 2015. Click on the map to enlarge it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." Then click on the map again to enlarge it more. You can move the image using the arrows on your keyboard. Pisgah (New Hampshire) state park can be seen on the map. Is is the biggest protected area that is both east of Brattleboro and southwest of Keene. It is about 13,300 acres.

In other news from the Valley, dozens of workers in Brattleboro and Keene are voting on whether to approve a union contract. They work at Consolidated Communications Corporation. The workers have a web page at:

www.facebook.com/FairnessAtConsolidated

On August 10 the results of the vote will be made public. The workers went on strike for four months in 2014. Their employer was then known as Fairpoint Corporation. Photos of a picket line in Dummerston, Vermont, which borders Brattleboro, are below. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full-size image.” photos by Eesha Williams

Workers who join a union in the USA make an average of 27 percent higher wages. That's according to www.bls.gov.

Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason. Most union contracts say that workers can only be fired for a good reason. If the boss and the worker disagree, a neutral third party decides.

Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS and Stop & Shop.

In other news from the Valley, union nurses are asking the public to join them at a rally outside 1233 Main Street in Holyoke on August 9. The rally starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. The nurses have a web site at www.MassNurses.org.

In other news from the Valley, in Brattleboro, dozens of people attended a rally against racism August 3 outside the building where the select board meets. Brattleboro doesn't have a mayor so the select board runs the town. The event was organized by the Root Social Justice Center.  In Vermont, 10 percent of prisoners are African American. Just 1 percent of Vermonters are black. No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the USA. Europe's rate is a third of ours.

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