Report Rare Species
The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program begins all its conservation efforts with actual observations of vulnerable species and priority natural communities. These observations come from a wide variety of sources-university researchers, local naturalists, consultants, NHESP staff, survey volunteers, and the general public-which is why thorough documentation is necessary for inclusion into our database. Observations submitted to NHESP are used for:
Biological Field Surveys and Research - prior to our annual survey efforts and special research projects, NHESP biologists review the records in our database to identify survey areas, develop research goals, and prioritize field work.
- Housatonic River surveys - In 2009 and 2010 NHESP conducted surveys within the Housatonic River floodplain under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Based on the information in the NHESP database, surveyors were able to relocate populations of species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) that hadn't been seen in over 25 years, identify previously unknown locaions of MESA-listed species, and evaluate the health and extent of known populations of MESA-listed species.
- Shorebird surveys - based on annual survey information we are able to observe changes in the populations of shorebirds from year to year in order to evaluate the effectiveness of our targeted efforts to protect and restore populations of these species in Massachusetts.
Data Management - NHESP biologists evaluate every record submitted to the Program for possible inclusion in the database. Once accepted and entered into the system, each record builds on the ones that have come before. With over 19,000 current records in the system, a statewide picture begins to unfold of the densities and distributions of various MESA-listed species and exemplary natural communities across the Commonwealth. This information can give us clues into habitat utilization, limiting features on the landscape, and changes to historic range extents.
- NatureServe - As a member of the Natural Heritage Network, Massachusetts NHESP participates in data sharing agreements across jurisdictions to allow researchers to develop regional and rangewide conservation plans for species and natural communities.
- Information Requests - NHESP provides site-specific species lists to project proponents to aid in the development of project plans that avoid harm to MESA-listed species, and conservation organizations to aid in the development of habitat management and conservation plans.
Endangered Species Regulation - Priority Habitats are delineated based on records of State-listed Species observed within the 25 years prior to delineation and contained in the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program ("NHESP") database. Thus, the inclusion of a MESA-listed species observation record in the NHESP database may result in the property associated with the record being designated as Priority Habitat. Under the MESA regulations, projects and activities proposed to take place in Priority Habitat must first be reviewed by the NHESP to determine whether a "take" of a state-listed species will occur. For these reasons, the NHESP requires that person(s) submitting a NHESP Species Observation Form to certify under the pains and penalties of perjury that the information voluntarily provided in the Observation Form is true and accurate.
- Delineation of Priority Habitat - Pursuant to 321 CMR 10.12, NHESP must evaluate the observation records in its database in determining which areas will be included in Priority Habitat.
- MESA-listed Species Conservation Plans - Under new regulations promulgated October 15, 2010, NHESP may develop conservation plans for Species of Special Concern which would establish different criteria for the issuance of a Conservation & Management Permit (321 CMR 10.23 and 10.26). The development of such a plan relies heavily on data collected and submitted to the data staff at NHESP on locations, population dynamics, and habitat utilization of these state-listed species.
Species Recovery and Ecological Restoration of Key Habitats - Successful recovery efforts depend upon good baseline data and regular monitoring. This allows for re-evaluations of strategy based on organized, systematic survey work and evaluations of the targeted populations over time. Restoration targets are developed through a thorough understanding of the locations of rare species populations and the conditions of the habitats for those species at various locations.
- Northern Red-bellied Cooter restoration - As the part of the recovery plan for this species under the federal Endangered Species Act, populations of the Northern Red-bellied Cooter have been monitored, augmented, and tracked through organized survey efforts as well as through the submission of rare species observations from the general public.
- Invasive species control - Non-native species can cause great harm to native communities and ecosystems, often out-competing our most vulnerable species through aggressive growth and reproduction. Survey work conducted by NHESP staff and partners has provided data on key areas to target for invasive species control.
Land Protection - When developing land protection goals, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife focuses on areas important for the protection of the biodiversity of Massachusetts. Many of the areas targeted are areas known to be home to vulnerable species, based on the survey efforts and observation records in the NHESP database.
- BioMap2 - In 2010 NHESP updated its biodiversity conservation plan and presented BioMap2. Many of the areas highlighted as important areas for conservation through land protection and stewardship are areas known to contain habitat for species of conservation concern.
Protection and NHESP priorities -The primary goal of the DFW
land protection program is to acquire land to protect and perpetuate
ecosystems that contain significant fishing or hunting resources and
to conserve the biological diversity of the state, particularly those
sites which support vulnerable species and exemplary natural communities.
In making a NHESP Species Observation Form available for use by the public, the NHESP does not authorize or condone entry onto private property without the owner's knowledge and permission. The unlawful trespass onto private property may subject a trespasser to the criminal or civil sanctions available under the law. For these reasons, the NHESP strongly recommends that the permission of the landowner be obtained prior to entering private property to collect information for this form. It is the sole responsibility of each person collecting information for this form to ensure that their activities comply with the law.
NHESP Species Observation Forms
NEW! The Vernal Pool & Rare Species (VPRS) Information System was launched November 5, 2012. The VPRS System is a web-based mapping and data submittal application that provides users with a way to submit rare species observation reports and vernal pool certification forms to NHESP electronically. The VPRS System allows you to complete an entire form (NHESP Plant or Animal Observation Form, Vernal Pool Certification Form) online, including the mapping of the location and the ability to upload photos or other associated documents.
The paper forms are still available as well. To report species observations, please fill out and submit a NHESP Animal or Plant Observation Form. Please include with your form(s) a copy of an appropriate map, with the location of the observation marked as precisely as possible, and any additional documentation such as photographs, digital images, etc. Topographic maps can be printed from websites such as mytopo.com, street maps and aerial images can be accessed through various online sites, such as Google Maps.
NHESP Observation Forms can be downloaded and printed in multiple formats. If you have a large amount of observations to submit (i.e. 30 or more separate observations), you can contact our program to obtain other NHESP approved methods of submittal (e.g. shapefile, spreadsheet, etc.). Just send an email with your request to email@example.com with 'bulk data' in the subject line.
To print PDF documents, you'll need a free pdf reader, such as Adobe's Acrobat Reader.