Designation Date: 3/20/87
Total approximate acreage: 9,240 acres
Watershed/subwatershed: Cape Cod/Pleasant Bay
Municipalities (% of ACEC): Brewster (<1%), Chatham (24%), Harwich (4%), and Orleans (72%)

Designation Overview

The Pleasant Bay ACEC was nominated by the Conservation Commissions, Boards of Selectmen, and Planning Boards from the Towns of Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, and Orleans and was designated as an ACEC in 1987 because of the area’s extraordinary natural resources. The boundary for this ACEC generally follows a 100-foot buffer to the 10-foot contour line and includes wetlands and waterbodies that outflow into Pleasant Bay. Over 1,000 acres of salt marsh and several hundred acres of tidal flats are found in the ACEC. Other important habitats include islands, salt and freshwater ponds, rivers, bays, and barrier beaches. These areas provide flood control, storm damage prevention, improved water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities to surrounding communities.

View full Resource Summary pdf format of    Pleasant Bay ACEC Resource Summary

What coastal resources are included (partially or entirely) in the ACEC?

  • Harbors, Sounds, Bays: Bassing Harbor (Chatham), Frostfish Cove (Orleans), The Horseshoe (Orleans), Pleasant Bay (Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, Orleans),Round Cove (Harwich), Ryder Cove (Chatham)
  • Rivers: Namequoit River, The River (Orleans)
  • Lakes, Ponds: Crows Pond, Lovers Lake, Mill Pond, Ministers Pond, Stillwater Pond (Chatham); Areys Pond, Crystal Lake, Gould Pond, Kescayogansett Pond, Meeting House Pond, Paw Wah Pond, Pilgrim Lake, Quanset Pond, Sarahs Pond, Uncle Seths Pond (Orleans)
  • Brooks, Creeks: Frost Fish Creek, Muddy Creek (Chatham); Broad Creek, Hog Island Creek (Orleans)
  • Great Ponds (ponds > 10 acres): Lovers Lake, Mill Pond, Stillwater Pond (Chatham): Crystal Lake, Pilgrim Lake (Orleans)

Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs): All waters in the Pleasant Bay ACEC are classified as ORWs. (ORWs are waters, such as public water supplies and vernal pools that are protected by the most stringent standards because they constitute an outstanding resource as determined by their socio-economic, recreational, ecological, and/or aesthetic values).

Barrier Beaches included in ACEC (Massachusetts Barrier Beach Inventory, CZM, 1982): Foreside Harbor Spit (Cm-7), Fox Hill Tombolo (Cm-6), Kendrick Rd. Barrier (Cm-10), Salt Marsh Way Barrier (Cm-11), Sedge Lane Beach (Cm-8), Shell Drive (Cm-9), Strong Is. East Spit (Cm-3), Strong Is. Spit (Cm-5), Strong Is. North Barrier (Cm-4) (Chatham); Muddy Creek Inlet Barrier Complex (Hw-7), Round Cove Spit (Hw-6) (Harwich); Davis Rd. Barrier Spit (Ol-14), Hog Island (Ol-12), The Horseshoe Spit (Ol-13), Nauset (North) Beach (Ol-7), Old Field Point (Ol-9), Quanset Rd. (Ol-17), Quanset Rd. Cranberry Bog (Ol-16), Quanset Rd. Northeast (Ol-15), Sampson Is. South Spit (Ol-11), Sampson Is. North Barrier (Ol-10) (Orleans)