Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware

Every so often I include in my column a reminder to our members concerning the “Brook Trout” license plate. Quite often I run into people who proudly display the specialty plate on their car or truck. When approached they always tell me that supporting Fish and Wildlife programs is something they are happy to do. Unfortunately, I have to inform them that the money they paid for the special plate does not and never has gone to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Most people always remark back that the plate has the FW right on it. Well, it certainly does, but that is a little bit of a misrepresentation or false advertising if you will.

Twenty-eight dollars of the plate fee actually goes to something called the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET). The remaining twelve dollars goes to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The MET website ( describes itself as follows:

Over 20 years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was sued by the federal government for violation of the Clean Water Act and pollution of Boston Harbor. State officials reflected on the process and began searching for ways to make this difficult period in Massachusetts environmental history a positive learning experience. In 1988 the federal lawsuit for violating the Clean Water Act in Boston Harbor was settled and the State Legislature established the Massachusetts Environmental Trust through Chapter 236, Section 7 of the Acts of 1988. The Trust was intially funded with $2 million dollars by the Legislature. The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The Trust originally focused on protecting the Massachusetts coastal zone and marine waters, but in the interim increased its geographic scope to include the water resources of the entire Commonwealth. In time, funds generated from violations of environmental law were put to use in remediation, outreach and environmental education efforts.

I would urge people who have one of these plates or are thinking about getting one to visit the MET website and educate themselves on just what they are supporting. For sure some of the grants may be things you support, just know you are not supporting the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.


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