The Department of Conservation and Recreation was formed in 2003 under Governor Mitt Romney, when the former the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) were merged to form the DCR.
Ownership and management for many nonpedestrian bridges was transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 2009.
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
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 Massachusetts State Parks
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.List of Massachusetts Protected Water Supply Areas
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
Dams and Waterways Engineering
Stormwater and Environmental Engineering
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.
The Bureau of Engineering manages and/or operates a number of parkways across the Commonwealth, including:Alewife Brook Parkway
Blue Hills Parkway
Blue Hills Reservation Parkways
Boylston Street (Back Bay sections)
Breakheart Reservation Parkways
Charles River Reservation Parkways
Charles Street (Charles Cir. to Leverett Cir.)
Chestnut Hill Drive
William J. Day Boulevard
Fellsway Connector Parkways
Fellsmere Park Parkways
Fresh Pond Parkway
Furnace Brook Parkway
Hammond Pond Parkway
Hull Shore Drive
Lynn Fells Parkway
Lynn Shore Drive
Middlesex Fells Reservation Parkways
Mount Greylock Summit Road
Mount Wachusett Summit Road
Mystic Valley Parkway
Nahant Beach Boulevard
Neponset Valley Parkway
North Beacon Street (Brighton & Watertown sections)
Norumbega Road (Weston)
Old Harbor Reservation Parkways
Old Colony Parkway
Quincy Shore Drive
Recreation Road (Weston)
Revere Beach Boulevard
Revere Beach Parkway
Stony Brook Reservation Parkways
West Roxbury Parkway
Winthrop Shore Drive
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:Alewife Brook Parkway Bridge over MBTA
Anderson Memorial Bridge (aka Larz Anderson Bridge)
Boston University Bridge
Bridge 23 Revere Beach Parkway over B & M, Corporation Way
Boston University Pedestrian Bridge
Charles Circle 57B
Craigie Dam Bridge
General Edwards Bridge
General Edwards Electrical Upgrade
Gilman Street Bridge
Hammond Pond Parkway Bridge/MBTA
Lech Walesa Bridge
Leo Martin Golf Course Pedestrian Bridge
Leverett Circle Tunnel
Mystic Valley Parkway over Alewife Brook
Neponset River Bridge
Pleasure Bay Pedestrian Bridges
Revere Beach Pkwy/State Road
River Street at Mother Brook
River Street Bridge
Riverside Park Pedestrian Bridge
Storrow Drive Tunnel
Watertown Pedestrian Bridge
West Roxbury Parkway at Conrail
Winthrop Avenue Bridge
Woods Memorial Bridge
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.