DER Mission and Philosophy

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.

DER staff

The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetlands Restoration Programs. DER coordinates ecological restoration to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and to restore important ecosystem services that improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts citizens.

The Riverways Program (MGL Chapter 21A Section 8) has been maintained within the DER and continues to coordinate outreach and technical assistance to support watershed conservation and protection.

The Division and partners facilitate capital-based projects including (but not limited to) dam removal and culvert replacement with the goal of restoring aquatic habitats and ecosystems across the state. These projects support commercial and recreational fisheries and provide many other benefits such as reduced flooding, improved water quality, and the replacement of aging infrastructure.

Ecological restoration is also an important component of the Commonwealth’s efforts to build habitat resiliency to better allow fish and wildlife to adapt to climate change – including sea level rise, elevated water temperatures, and increased floods and periods of drought.

DER espouses a comprehensive, holistic approach to restoration, key components include:

  • Prioritize ecosystems over habitats
    DER places an emphasis on restoring ecological processes, rather than species specific habitats
  • Focus on implementation at a watershed scale
    DER staff identifies the most detrimental stressors in the larger watershed context and coordinates restoration actions to improve conditions 
  • Partner with local organizations
    DER bases its programs on engaging and working with stakeholders in the communities to maximize impact and stewardship 

DER coordinates our efforts under a strategic plan. Annual work plans are developed that guide goals and tasks, with clear measures to assist with evaluation. For a summary of our strategic plan visit:  DER Strategic Plan pdf format of DER Strategic Plan Summary