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Department of Conservation and Recreation
MassDCR seal.svg
Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation seal
MassDCR logo simple.svg
Agency logo
Department overview
Headquarters 251 Causeway Street, Boston
Department executive
  • Jim Montgomery, Acting and Interim Commissioner
Website [1]

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is a state agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, situated in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. It is best known for its parks and parkways. The DCR's mission is "To protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources for the well-being of all." The agency is the largest landowner in Massachusetts.

Administrative history

The Department of Conservation and Recreation was formed in 2003 under Governor Mitt Romney, when the former Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) were merged to form the DCR.

Ownership and management for many non-pedestrian bridges was transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 2009.

Previous Commissioners:

  • Jim Montgomery: September 2019 to Present
  • Leo Roy: December 2015 - September 2019
  • Jack Murray: June 2013 - 2015. Murray served as deputy DCR commissioner since 2007, managing operations of the state park system.
  • Edward M. Lambert Jr.: February 2011. Lambert was mayor of Fall River from 1996 to 2007, a state representative, and had been director of The Urban Initiative at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
  • Rick Sullivan: May 2007 Sullivan was mayor of Westfield before becoming DCR Commissioner and left DCR to become the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
  • Stephen Burrington: 2005 - 2007
  • Katherine Abbott: January 2004 - February 2005


The DCR is under the general management of the Commissioner of the DCR. The general administration divisions; Human Resources Division, the Financial Division, and External and Legislative Affairs, report directly to the Commissioner. It has two divisions

  • Division of State Parks and Recreation (now branded as MassParks)
  • Division of Water Supply Protection

and several bureaus, offices, and other work units, including (but not exclusively)

  • Bureau of Engineering
  • Bureau of Planning and Resource Protection
  • Bureaus of Forestry and Fire Control
  • Bureau of Ranger Services
  • Universal Access Program
  • many other units

Division of State Parks

The Division of State Parks is responsible for the maintenance and management of over 310,000 acres (1,250 km2) of state-owned forests and parks. These areas are designated as either Woodlands, Parklands, or Reserves, and are managed to maintain specific land-use characteristics.

From the agency's beginning in 2003 until 2012, DCR land management was organized into three divisions: State Parks and Recreation, Urban Parks and Recreation, and Water Supply Protection. In 2012, State Parks and Urban Parks were unified into one division.

Within the greater Boston area there are urban wilds, historic sites, and other naturally aesthetic or significant environmental properties. The origins of the collective environments in this part of the division date back to the creation of the Metropolitan Park Commission in 1893, forming the first such regional system in the United States. (see Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston for history).

Lands outside of the greater Boston area includes some 29 campgrounds, over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of trails, 87 beaches, 37 swimming, wading, and spray pools, 62 playgrounds, 55 ballfields, 145 miles (233 km) of paved bike and rail trails and once private homes and estates that are now a part of the DCR's Historic Curatorship Program.

List of State Parks

Division of Water Supply Protection

The Division of Water Supply Protection manages 150,000 acres (610 km2) of watershed lands and is responsible for the protection of the drinking water supply for approximately 2.5 million residents of Massachusetts, primarily in Greater Boston. This division monitors lakes and ponds, well drillers, and rainfall throughout the Commonwealth.

Protected Water Supply Areas

  • Quabbin Reservoir
  • Ware River Watershed
  • Wachusett Reservoir
  • Sudbury Reservoir

Bureau of Engineering

The Bureau of Engineering provides professional engineering, design, and construction management services in support of DCR properties. In addition to providing engineering services for over 450,000 acres (1,800 km2) of parks, forests, watersheds, beaches, 340 dams, and numerous recreational facilities, the Bureau of Engineering also manages over 525 lane miles of parkways and nearly 300 bridges and tunnels notable for their landmark stature and importance in the Commonwealth’s transportation system.

The Bureau operates under the direction of a Chief Engineer and is sub-divided into six operating units:

  • Bridge and Parkway Engineering
  • Facilities Engineering
  • Dams and Waterways Engineering
  • Stormwater and Environmental Engineering
  • Construction Permitting
  • Construction Services

The Bureau is responsible for the management of the majority of the DCR's annual capital budget which has declined in recent years from a $150–200 million high to a current $70–80 million.

List of parkways

The Bureau of Engineering manages and/or operates a number of parkways across the Commonwealth, including:

List of bridges

The Bureau of Engineering managed and/or operated a number of bridges across the Commonwealth prior to November 2009. All non-pedestrian bridges were transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on November 1, 2009 as part of a transportation reform law. Originally, a certain number of bridges listed in the act creating MassDOT were to be transferred after December 31, 2014 when ongoing construction was completed. However, a Memorandum of Agreement between DCR and MassDOT instead transferred these bridges in 2009 along with all other DCR vehicular bridges.

A partial listing of notable bridges formerly under the DCR, with the exception of pedestrian bridges still managed by the department and listed here, include:

List of dams

The Bureau of Engineering owns and manages and/or operates a number of dams and flood control facilities across the Commonwealth, including:

  • Irish Dam (Grafton)
  • Moose Hill Reservoir Dam (Spencer)
  • Pontoosuc Lake Dam (Pittsfield)
  • Unionville Pond Dam (Holden)
  • Charles River Dam (Boston)


DCR is responsible for the stewardship of its lands, from general maintenance—such as emptying trash barrels, cutting grass, and making building improvements—to landscape-level management.

DCR also provides services beyond its boundaries, For example, Bureau of Forest Fire Control is available to aid and assist local cities and towns during natural disasters as well as periods of high fire danger, while its Bureau of Forestry administers forest management on both state and private lands.

DCR also manages its land through the help of partners. Road repairs are sometimes implemented by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation at the request of DCR. Police protection has been provided by the Massachusetts State Police after the MDC's police department was merged into the State Police in 1992.

In addition to partnering with state agencies, DCR coordinates with local and national volunteer organizations, such as the Mystic River Watershed Association, Friends of the Middlesex Fells, Appalachian Mountain Club, and local student organizations.

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