Boston Globe LTE: Staff losses at Mass. environmental agencies are keenly felt

July 18, 2015

THIS WEEK 40 environmental organizations across Massachusetts signed a letter to Governor Baker, expressing their deep concern over the departure of state employees from two major environmental agencies under the governor’s early-retirement incentive program (“Groups call for more hires at 2 agencies,” Metro, July 14). Both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Recreation lost about 100 employees in the past month, a reduction of more than 10 percent for each agency, each of which has already received steep budget cuts over the past 10 years.

I am also concerned about this loss of talented senior staff. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that when there are fewer employees carrying out a mission, services and protections will decline.

Last week, I attended an early-retirement party in Essex for Russ Cohen. For the past 27 years, he has worked at the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Division of Ecological Restoration, and the Riverways Program, focusing on cleaning up the rivers of Massachusetts that just 30 years ago were toxic and uninhabitable.

Looking out over the Essex River that day, with families arriving to go canoeing and walking along the trails, I was reminded of the critical work that public employees like Cohen do every day to help make Massachusetts what it is.

Unless Governor Baker commits himself to reversing these staffing cuts in next year’s budget, I fear for whether Massachusetts will move backward in its proud environmental legacy.

Jamie Eldridge
State senator
Democrat of Acton

You can also read the piece here.

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