11.01: Authority, Purpose, Goals, and Dedication

(1) Authority. 321 CMR 11.00 is promulgated under the authority of M.G.L. c. 131, §10 through D.

(2) Purpose and Goals. 321 CMR 11.00 is promulgated for the purposes of establishing a system of dedicated nature preserves and for guiding the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife in defining the criteria, scope, protocol and stewardship for the dedication and management of such preserves. Nature preserves are areas containing native natural communities which are as nearly as possible in their natural condition and are representative of significant habitats and ecosystems of the Commonwealth. Nature preserves are intended to serve in perpetuity as representatives of the state's native natural heritage, as habitats for plant and animal species, and as exemplary representatives of the natural communities and ecosystems of Massachusetts. Nature preserves are further intended to provide scientific research and education opportunities for the public to understand, and appreciate the state's natural heritage.

(3) Dedication. Nature preserves are dedicated to the public benefit for scientific research, education, and the preservation of plant and animal species and natural communities of the Commonwealth. Nature preserves dedicated hereunder shall be recognized by EOEA and its constituent agencies as areas to be monitored and maintained as nearly as possible in their natural condition. Nature preserves shall be used and managed in a manner consistent with the protection and perpetuation of such natural condition without impairment or development.

(4) Policy. Agencies that choose to dedicate land as a nature preserve accept 321 CMR 11.00 applying to the Nature Preserve System will apply to all lands dedicated as nature preserves. Nothing in 321 CMR 11.00 shall be interpreted to require, nor to authorize the Council or the Division to require, a managing agency to dedicate or have dedicated as a nature preserve any area under its jurisdiction.

11.02: Definitions

For the purposes of 321 CMR 11.00 the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:

Alcoholic beverage means that definition provided in M.G.L. c. 138.

Articles of Dedication means the documents that create the nature preserve which are filed with the Secretary of the EOEA, that include the nomination form with the justification of qualification of the parcel, attachments to the nomination, and the protection plan for the nature preserve.

Biodiversity means the full range of variety and variability within and among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur, and encompasses ecosystem or community diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity.

Camping means the utilization of any piece of equipment for sleeping, including but not limited to, a sleeping bag, blanket, hammock, tent, tarp, motor or recreational vehicle, trailer, watercraft, or structure, for the purpose of occupying a piece of land or water for transient and temporary outdoor living.

Controlled substance means that definition provided in M.G.L. c. 94C, §1.

Council means the Nature Preserve Council constituted under M.G.L. c. 131, § 10B, and including agency Associate Members as provided for in 321 CMR 11.03.

DEM means the Department of Environmental Management.

DFW or Division means the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife within the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement.

Environmental Monitor means the twice monthly publication of EOEA that provides notice of all submissions received by EOEA under M.G.L. c. 30, §§ 62 through 62H. It contains descriptions of proposals and notices of matters before the Secretary.

EOEA means the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Managing agency means the agency with management responsibility for the area dedicated or under consideration for dedication as a nature preserve.

MDC means the Metropolitan District Commission.

Native, in reference to species, means a species which either occurs, or has occurred, within Massachusetts; provided that the original occurrence of such species is not the result of a deliberate or accidental introduction by humans into Massachusetts nor an introduction elsewhere which spread into Massachusetts.

Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program means the program within the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife responsible for the inventory, research, and protection of rare plant and animal species and natural communities, and the maintenance of computerized and manual records of rare species and natural community locality information.

Natural community means a recurrent group of native plants and animals that share particular environmental requirements and which naturally occur together and which are recognized as such a community by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

Natural condition of an area means that the vegetation has the composition and structure similar to that likely to have been found in the vicinity of the site before European settlement. Successional plant communities are included if they are biologically appropriate to the site, even if they must be managed to remain in the preferred successional stage. Land forms in such areas should be relatively unaltered by impacts of post European settlement activities.

Nature Preserve means any area dedicated according to the provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A, and 321 CMR 11.00.

Nature Preserve System means the collection of lands, waters, shores, and interests therein dedicated as a nature preserve under M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A, and 321 CMR 11.00.

Nongame Advisory Committee means the committee established under M.G.L. c.131, § 5B.

Permit means written permission from the managing agency for visitor use of a nature preserve in accordance with 321 CMR 11.00, the articles of dedication of the particular nature preserve, and the provisions of any applicable general or special law.

Prescribed burning means the open burning of plant life under controlled conditions which limits the fire to a predetermined area and which accomplishes environmentally beneficial objectives including, but not limited to, habitat management and the prevention or control of wildfire.

Protection plan means a plan prepared by the managing agency and agreed to by the Council to guide management activities on a nature preserve.
Quality in reference to a natural community means, but is not limited to, its vegetation structural characteristics, species composition, age, and degree of disturbance.

11.03: Nature Preserve Council

(1) Membership. The Council shall consist of seven members who shall be appointed by the Secretary of EOEA, four of whom shall be members of the Nongame Advisory Committee, two of whom shall be trained in plant ecology and shall represent colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools, outdoor education programs, science museums, and arboreta, and one of whom shall be knowledgeable in natural history and shall represent the general public. Each member shall be appointed for a term of three years, except as otherwise provided in M.G.L. c.131, § 10B. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for remainder of the unexpired term. Any member shall be eligible for reappointment. The Council shall annually select from among its members a chairperson.

(2) Associate Members. The Commissioners of MDC and DEM and the Secretary of EOEA may each appoint up to two associate members to the Council. Such associate members shall serve in an advisory role only.

(3) Division Personnel. Because the Division is the agency with direct statutory authority over the Nature Preserve System personnel from DFW may be present at all meetings of the Nature Preserve Council.

(4) Meetings. The Council shall hold meetings at least once every three months. Special meetings may be called by the chairperson and shall be called upon written request of at least two members of the Council. Each member and associate member shall be notified of the time and place of each meeting by the Division at the request of the chairperson at least two days prior to the date scheduled for said meeting. Meetings are governed by the open meeting law, M.G.L. c. 30A, § 11A½.

(5) Duties. The Council's duties shall include, but not be limited to:

(a) advising the Division on policies, rules, regulations, and forms relative to nature preserves;

(b) receiving nominations, providing preliminary evaluations of the qualifications of nominated areas, and consulting with managing agencies and the Division about nominated areas;

(c) assisting in the preparation of a protection plan for each nature preserve;

(d) evaluating research performed on nature preserves;

(e) advising the Division on budgetary matters concerning nature preserves;

(f) recommending changes to 321 CMR 11.00 or to specific articles of dedication;

(g) implementing a periodic review of the Nature Preserve System and its components and recommending additional types of natural communities or natural areas for inclusion; and

(h) submitting a biennial report to the governor on or before May first of odd numbered years, describing the condition of each nature preserve, outlining any actions taken by the Council since the last report, and making any recommendations related to the nature preserve program which the Council deems appropriate.

11.04: Nomination Process

(1) Qualifications. Any lands, waters, shores, or interests therein owned by the Commonwealth and under the control of an agency of EOEA (DFW, DEM, or MDC), whether or not in a natural condition, which contain rare, exemplary, or other significant natural or biological communities or which contain significant features of native biodiversity are eligible for consideration as a nature preserve.

(2) Nomination. Nominations for potential nature preserves shall be submitted by a managing agency to the Director of DFW to be forwarded to the Council.

(3) Citizen Petition. Any ten citizens of Massachusetts may submit a request to the director of a managing agency that he or she nominate particular lands under the agency's jurisdiction as a nature preserve. The group of citizens shall notify the Nature Preserve Council of such a request in writing. The director of the managing agency may decline to proceed with a nomination, and should notify the group of citizens and the Nature Preserve Council of that decision. If the agency decides to proceed with the nomination, the agency may request that the group of citizens complete the nomination forms and aid in drafting the protection plan, with participation of the managing agency and as specified in 321 CMR 11.05.

(4) Considerations in Nomination. An area considered for nomination should include, but not be limited to, the following features:

(a) the land necessary to encompass viable natural or biological communities or other features of native biodiversity as defined under 321 CMR 11.04(1); and

(b) appropriate buffer lands necessary to protect the core area and allow the preserve to function as a management unit.

(5) Nomination Form and Submittal Requirements. Nominations shall be submitted on a form to be obtained from the Division and the information provided shall include, but not be limited to:

(a) identification of the ownership and acreage of the area;

(b) a map of the proposed area, showing proposed boundaries with included buffer areas delineated, general types of natural or biological communities, and other areas of natural significance;

(c) a detailed justification of the nomination, describing the need and purpose for nature preserve dedication;

(d) a descriptive listing of the natural and biological communities present and their quality;

(e) a discussion of the extent and nature of disturbances to the natural condition of the proposed area; and

(f) such other information as shall be requested by the Council.

(6) Review of Nominations.

(a) The Council shall on behalf of the Director of DFW acknowledge receipt of nominations and conduct an initial review thereof at the next scheduled meeting of the Council after receipt of such nominations, provided that such nominations have been received at least seven days prior to the meeting. Nominations received less than seven days before a meeting shall be considered at the next meeting;

(b) The Council shall request such additional information from the managing agency as deemed necessary and nominations may receive additional review at subsequent meetings;

(c) The Council shall make recommendations to the Director of DFW and the managing agency in writing whether to reject or approve the nomination. The Council's recommendations about accepting or rejecting nominations shall be based on whether a site meets the criteria established in M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A through D and 321 CMR 11.00. The managing agency shall be sent a copy of the Council's recommendation to the Director of DFW. Recommendation shall be made within 90 days of the meeting in which review of full documentation occurred;

(d) The Director of DFW shall decide within 30 days of receiving the Council's recommendation whether to accept or reject the nomination. The Council and managing agency shall be notified in writing of the decision of the Director of DFW;

(e) The Council shall maintain records of all nominations, with dates of actions and deliberations on them, and their disposition.

11.05: Protection Plan and Dedication

(1) Preparation of a Protection Plan: Within 180 days of notice of approval of the nomination by the Director of DFW, the managing agency, shall , with assistance from the Council and the Division's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, prepare a draft protection plan for the nature preserve. In preparing the draft protection plan, the managing agency may solicit and accept assistance from outside parties, including, where appropriate, the group of ten citizens who requested the nomination. A protection plan shall include:

(a) the objectives and reasons for dedication;

(b) management guidelines with specific protection or conservation actions needed or to be taken by the managing agency, and also any activities that are exceptions to 321 CMR 11.06 and 11.07;

(c) appropriate significant scientific or educational activities, if any;

(d) recommendations for special regulations pertaining to the particular site to be promulgated by the managing agency, if necessary;

(e) a detailed map of the area showing topography and boundaries;

(f) location of existing trails; and

(g) location, means and limitations on use of access.

(2) Review of the Protection Plan.

(a) The managing agency shall submit a copy of the draft protection plan to the Director of DFW who shall forward it to the Council which shall review it. The Council shall comment within 90 days of the full review of the draft protection plan.

(b) The Council shall recommend to the Director of DFW that the draft protection plan be accepted for proceeding to the public hearing required in Section 11.05(3) or returned to the managing agency for modification, with suggestions for improvements or changes.

(3) Public Hearing. Within 60 days of receiving a recommendation for acceptance of the draft protection plan from the Council and a copy of the draft protection plan, the Director of DFW shall hold a public hearing so that the public and other interested parties may comment on the nomination and draft protection plan.

(a) Not less than 21 days before the public hearing the Director of DFW shall make available the nomination and draft protection plan. The Director of DFW shall send notice of the public hearing to the Council, the managing agency, and an area newspaper at least 21 days before the hearing and shall submit to the Secretary of EOEA in time for publication in the Environmental Monitor at least 21 days prior to the public hearing a notice of such hearing and the availability of the draft protection plan.

(b) The Director of DFW shall notify the Council and the managing agency of the results of the public hearing within 30 days and provide copies of any comments received to the Council and managing agency for consideration in preparing the final protection plan.

(4) Finalization of the Protection Plan.

(a) The Council and the managing agency shall cooperate to produce a final protection plan within 90 days of the public hearing.

(b) The managing agency, the Council, and the Division must all approve the final protection plan and file written acceptance with the Director of DFW who shall notify the Council of the acceptances. If a final protection plan is not agreed upon, the site cannot be dedicated as a nature preserve, and the record for the site should be so annotated.

(c) In the event a final protection plan cannot be agreed upon within 90 days of the public hearing, the nomination shall lapse; provided, however, that at any time after one year from the nomination's lapse, the site may be renominated by the managing agency. A renomination shall be treated as a nomination.

(5) Dedication. The Council shall send the final, accepted protection plan to the Director of DFW for inclusion in the articles of dedication. On receipt of the protection plan, the Director of DFW shall file an article of dedication with the Secretary of EOEA, which shall include, but not necessarily be limited to:

(a) the name or designation of the area;

(b) the managing agency having jurisdiction over the area;

(c) a summary of the objectives and reasons for dedication of the site; and

(d) the protection plan as described in 321 CMR 11.05.

(6) Notice. Notice of the filing of articles of dedication of individual nature preserves shall be published in the Environmental Monitor.

(7) Amendments to the Protection Plan.

(a) Issues, uses, and changes and non emergency management problems affecting the Nature Preserve that arise after the protection plan is accepted shall be brought to the Council's attention in writing. The managing agency may amend the protection plan with the concurrence of the Director of DFW after she or he consults with the Nature Preserve Council, except for any changes in boundaries which shall be done in accordance with 321 CMR 11.08. Any amendment to the protection plan shall not contradict or be inconsistent with the intent of the protection of the Nature Preserve System.

(b) Emergency management problems shall be dealt with as described in 321 CMR 11.06(5)(e).

11.06: Management of Nature Preserves

Nature preserves are established to preserve and protect the natural communities of an area. A protection plan as provided in 321 CMR 11.05 shall be prepared for each nature preserve. Management activities, except as otherwise specified in the protection plan for a particular area or by other provisions of law, shall conform to the following guidelines:

(1) Records. Records shall be kept for each nature preserve by the managing agency. Records shall include, but not be limited to, the protection plan and all programs and actions complementing or modifying said plan including maps, reports, studies, descriptions of pertinent events, and other documentary material. One copy of the record shall be kept for the Council by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

(2) Research and Education. Nondestructive research is encouraged in nature preserves. Research or educational programs within nature preserves may be conducted by individuals, groups, or governmental agencies when such activities will not have a detrimental effect on the natural features of the area or its objectives under the protection plan.

(a) A person desiring to conduct research or educational activities not otherwise permitted in 321 CMR 11.00 or in the protection plan for a particular nature preserve must secure the permission of the managing agency for the proposed activities by requesting a permit for such use. Permission may be extended to a leader authorized to represent group members or subpermittees.

(b) Permission of the managing agency shall be required for educational use of or other public access to a nature preserve when the group exceeds ten persons; or when the activities involve manipulation of the habitat; or when the area to be visited by the group is otherwise closed to human visitation.

(c) Application for permission for research or educational activities which are not exempted under 321 CMR 11.06(2)(b) or 11.06(2)(g) shall be on a form prescribed by the Council and shall be obtainable from the Council or the managing agency. Information on such form shall include, but not be limited to, the name, address, position, and professional qualifications of the applicant; a description of the proposed activities including the objectives, methods, and procedures to be followed; duration of the project; specific sites to be visited or used; frequency and length of visits; detailed description of disturbances; number and disposition of specimens; permits or licenses held or required; and records to be kept or documents to be developed.

(d) The managing agency shall review the application and approve, conditionally approve, or reject the proposed use. The agency's decision shall be based on: the relationship of the proposed activity to the dedicated objective of the nature preserve and the benefits to be derived therefrom; the ability and competence of the applicant; information contained in the application; and the impact of the activity on the nature preserve and the managing agency's ability to manage and control the area while subject to research or educational use. An application shall be responded to within 30 days of the receipt thereof. The Council shall be notified of all applications and the action taken on them.

(e) A permit, when issued, shall contain specific restrictions and conditions to protect the nature preserve. The permit shall also contain appropriate requirements for reports by the permittee to the managing agency and the Council and a form for reporting. Permits may be modified, suspended, or revoked for violations of the permit conditions or of 321 CMR 11.00. Permittees shall report to the managing agency and the Council on their activities as required and at least annually no later than 31 January.

(f) Persons wishing to collect scientific specimens for research or museum deposit shall obtain any necessary permits from DFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or other governmental agencies prior to collecting. Except as provided in the protection plan, applicable permits, or by the managing agency, collecting of specimens of whatever nature or description, and for whatever purpose is prohibited.

(g) Nothing in 321 CMR 11.06(2) shall be deemed to prohibit a managing agency or its contractors from conducting research and education on a nature preserve under its jurisdiction by its agency staff in accordance with its legal mandate and statutory responsibilities, and such agency shall not be required to comply with provisions of 321 CMR 11.06(2) for such research and education where not contrary to the protection plan.

(3) Ecological Management Practices.

(a) Fire.

1. Prescribed burning may be undertaken for fire adapted natural communities as identified in the protection plan and in accordance with guidance provided by the Council. The managing agency, with advice from persons with experience in ecological burning, shall prepare a written plan for each prescribed burn and all necessary permits shall be obtained. Burning shall not be done under conditions more hazardous than those specified in the prescribed burn plan. No firefighting chemicals which are known to cause damage to or alteration of natural vegetation, fauna or soils may be used. The use of equipment and motorized vehicles, size and experience of crew, identity and qualifications of the fire boss, time of year for the burn, frequency of burning, and amount of area to be burned shall be specified in each prescribed burn plan. Ecological objectives of prescribed burning shall be stated in the protection plan, and monitoring of the vegetation should be undertaken in order to determine the efficacy of the burn program. Copies of the fire prescriptions and the monitoring reports shall be supplied to the Council to be kept in the record of the nature preserve.

2. Fire management plans specifying fire suppression techniques for wildfire shall be prepared for nature preserves with fire prone vegetation. Such plans shall be produced by the managing agency in consultation with persons with experience in fire in natural areas, local fire departments, and the Bureau of Fire Control of DEM. The plans should specify firebreaks, equipment, and chemicals to be used on the nature preserve and note areas of particular sensitivity to be avoided. A copy of the fire management plan shall be sent to the Council for the nature preserve record. After a fire within a nature preserve, there shall be no cleanup, fire hazard reduction, or replanting except in accordance with the protection plan, guidance provided by the Council, or as required by law. Council recommendation shall consider health and safety issues, as well as the need for ecological restoration.

3. When boundary firebreaks are necessary, they shall be constructed outside the nature preserve, when possible. Firebreaks shall be kept to a minimum and shall be constructed only in accordance with the protection plan. Temporary firebreaks made by raking, mowing, or wetting, may be used in conjunction with a prescribed burn.

(b) Water level control shall not be undertaken which shall alter water levels. Water levels which have previously been altered by human activity may be changed when essential for the maintenance and restoration of conditions for which the nature preserve is established when part of the protection plan and in accordance with the Wetland Protection Act M.G.L. c. 131, § 40.

(c) Control of erosion and soil deposition resulting from human disturbance or natural conditions within or without a nature preserve may be undertaken.

(d) Control of native plants shall not be undertaken except for removal from lanes, firebreaks, trails, or similar passageways in accordance with the protection plan. Vegetation may be managed using methods or procedures stipulated in the protection plan.

(e) Insect or disease control programs shall not be undertaken unless the infestation or outbreak threatens adjacent natural areas, will drastically alter natural ecological processes within the nature preserve, or where a public health emergency is declared under M.G.L. c. 17, provided that such control programs are approved by the managing agency or are provided for by law.

(f) Control of exotic plants and animals may be undertaken in a manner and for a purpose in accordance with the protection plan. Control of exotic plants may include the control of plant succession.

(g) Any measures for the population control of any plant or animal species, even if considered noxious, shall be provided for in the protection plan. Control of populations not covered in the protection plan shall be limited to those measures in accord with guidance provided by the Council.

(h) Pesticides including herbicides shall not be used except as provided for in the protection plan, or in an emergency in accord with guidance provided by the Council and with the consent of the managing agency.

(i) Management of endangered, threatened, and special concern species listed under 321 CMR 10.60 and non listed species which may be of management concern on a particular nature preserve shall receive particular attention. Habitat manipulations and protective measures favoring a particular species shall be undertaken only as specified in the protection plan.

(4) Scenic and Landscape Management.

(a) No measures, including grass or brush cutting, thinning of vegetation, removal of dead wood, or flower or shrub planting, shall be undertaken which shall alter natural growth or landscape features for the primary purpose of enhancing the area's beauty or aesthetic qualities.

(b) Except as provided for in the protection plan or in 321 CMR 11.07 there shall be no removal or consumptive use of any product, material, or object from a nature preserve, including, but not limited to, grazing of livestock, farming, mining or quarrying. There shall be no disposal of waste materials.

(c) Guard rails, fences, steps, and other devices or measures necessary for visitor safety may be installed as stipulated in the protection plan. Potentially dangerous conditions, such as dead trees, branches, abandoned wells or pits, and similar hazards on trails or in authorized public use areas may be removed, cleared, filled in, or otherwise remedied.

(d) When in accordance with the protection plan, materials such as follows may be removed, altered, or demolished, including: removal of interior fences when not contrary to law; removal of rubbish, trash, and abandoned vehicles; and removal of structures having no utilitarian, historic, scientific, or management value.

(5) Management of Human Use and Access.

(a) Human use of a nature preserve shall conform to the objectives of the Nature Preserve System and the individual nature preserve as provided for in the articles of dedication. Scientific and educational use is encouraged when in conformance with these guidelines. The protection plan may specify controls and restrictions to be placed on public access and use which may be further restricted by the managing agency. Any additional restrictions imposed by the managing agency shall be incorporated into the protection plan in accordance with 11.05(7) above.

(b) Boundaries of nature preserves shall be marked by posting boundary markers according to managing agency policy. Boundary fences and barriers may be installed as stipulated in the protection plan.

(c) Signs, interpretive displays, and structures shall be in accordance with the protection plan. Informational signs, trash receptacles, and minor structures required to house research instruments or maintenance equipment must be approved by the managing agency. All structures and facilities, except those predating the dedication of the nature preserve, shall be located in service areas which may be established near or adjacent to nature preserves to provide access, parking, management or visitor facilities. Such areas shall be provided for in the protection plan.

(d) There shall be no intrusions, easements, or rights of way granted or allowed which do not conform to 321 CMR 11.00 and with the purposes and objectives of the Nature Preserve System, except as specified in the protection plan or unless such intrusions, easements, or rights of way are contained in deeded property rights.

(e) Emergency situations requiring immediate action to prevent death or injury to persons or damage to property shall be handled in such a manner as to cause minimal damage to natural conditions, consistent with the nature of the emergency. Emergency situations shall be reported as soon as possible to the head of the managing agency and to the Council by the site manager.

(f) Vehicular access ways shall be installed and maintained only where essential for patrol, fire control, or research and management activities and shall be in accordance with protection plan. Such ways shall be closed except to official vehicles and permittees. Ways, except pre existing ways, shall provide a single lane and shall not be more than 14 feet wide.

(g) No species listed in 321 CMR 10.60 shall be removed, altered, damaged, or taken in consequence of the construction or maintenance of access ways except as otherwise provided in the protection plan and permitted by 321 CMR 10.00.

(h) Trails shall conform to the objectives of the Nature Preserve System and the protection plan for the individual nature preserve. Trails shall be designed so as to alter a minimal part of the nature preserve and to have minimal impact on natural features. Trails shall further be designed so as to have minimal impact on those species listed under 321 CMR 10.60.

(i) The location of all existing or proposed trails shall be identified or laid out in the protection plan. Trails shall be adequate to provide for approved use of the nature preserve and to control erosion, trampling of vegetation, and other site degradation, but shall otherwise be minimized. Natural materials, when possible, shall be used for trail construction. Paving materials, footbridges, and elevated walks may be used when in accordance with the protection plan.

(j) Access to nature preserves shall be allowed only at such locations and under such conditions as may be specified in the protection plan.

11.07: Public Activities in Nature Preserves

Public activities on all nature preserves, except as otherwise provided by law, 321 CMR 11.06, or the applicable protection plan shall conform to the following:

(1) hours of visitation are: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset, except by permit;

(2) access by groups of ten or more persons requires a permit from the managing agency;

(3) scientific research shall be conducted only with written permission from the managing agency, which permission shall be obtained only subsequent to a written proposal and consultation by the managing agency with the Council as described in 11.06(2);

(4) the taking of any plant or animal is prohibited on a nature preserve without a permit, except for the harvesting of edible nuts, fruits, berries, or fungi, and trapping, hunting and fishing, which are allowed unless specifically prohibited in the protection plan or by the managing agency for the site;

(5) removing, damaging, or disturbing any vegetation, soil, stones, gravel, or earthen material is prohibited except as provided in 321 CMR 11.06;

(6) introducing any plant or animal is prohibited;

(7) digging, disturbing, or removing any archaeological, paleontological, or historical artifacts, remains, ruins, or sites or using metal detectors is prohibited, except under permit from the managing agency;

(8) domestic animals are prohibited except for hunting dogs in accordance with lawful hunting seasons as provided in M.G.L. c. 131 and 321 CMR 1.00 et seq., when otherwise permitted by the managing agency, and except for seeing eye and hearing ear dogs;

(9) driving, operating, or possessing any motor vehicle, snow or recreational vehicle, bicycle or motorized bicycle, except for management purposes as provided in the protection plan and except on roads or other areas expressly designated for public vehicular traffic is prohibited;

(10) dumping or discarding any container, papers, garbage, brush, stumps, leaves, solid or liquid wastes, tires or other materials of whatever nature or description is prohibited;

(11) damaging, defacing, or removing any sign, fence, gate, building, monument, or equipment is prohibited;

(12) using, possessing, consuming, or cultivating any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance is prohibited;

(13) building or maintaining a fire, or causing a fire to be built or maintained is prohibited, except for management purposes as stated in the protection plan;

(14) camping, building of structures, or otherwise maintaining occupancy within any nature preserve is prohibited;

(15) possessing or discharging a firearm, bow and arrow, trap, or explosive or destructive device is prohibited, except for management purposes as provided in the protection plan, and except for hunting or trapping in accordance with M.G.L. c. 131 and 321 CMR 1.00 et seq., when otherwise permitted by the managing agency;

11.08: Amendments to the Boundaries in the Articles of Dedication

(1) Process. Any proposed amendment to the boundaries specified in the Articles of Dedication must be reviewed by and accepted by the Division and the managing agency.

(a) Any proposal to change the boundary of a nature preserve shall be in writing from the managing agency to the Director of DFW and contain an explanation of the reason for the proposed boundary change, and a general description of the land and vegetation proposed for exclusion or inclusion in the nature preserve.

(b) Public notice of the proposal shall be published in the Environmental Monitor and an area newspaper and written comment accepted on the proposal. The Council shall review the proposal at the next regularly scheduled meeting after the close of the public comment period on the proposal. The Council shall submit its recommendation and a summary of any written public comment received on the proposal to the Director of DFW for decision.

(2) Review. The Director of DFW shall review the recommendation of the Council and the request of the managing agency and take one of the following actions on the proposal:

(a) The Director of DFW may accept the proposed boundary change upon a finding that the boundary change conforms with the purposes of the articles of dedication of the nature preserve and M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A through D. When the purposes of M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A through D or the purposes of the original dedication will be substantially contravened by a boundary change, the Director of DFW must find in writing that the change serves a clear and unavoidable necessity and that no prudent alternative exists.

(b) The Director of DFW may deny the proposed boundary change upon the finding that it does not serve to protect the nature preserve or further its dedication objective or prudent alternatives exist.

(3) Result. The Director of DFW shall publish a summary of his finding to amend boundaries specified in the Articles of Dedication in the Environmental Monitor and such amendment shall not be final until 30 days following publication in the Environmental Monitor.

11.09: Release from Nature Preserve Status

(1) Criteria: A nature preserve established under M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A shall be considered for release only if the managing agency determines that the site no longer supports the natural community or species that the nature preserve was established to protect and is unlikely to recover and the site no longer represents significant habitats and ecosystems of the commonwealth;

(2) The managing agency may request, in writing, the release from nature preserve status of a nature preserve that meets the above criteria. The Division shall, in consultation with other managing agencies which have control of said parcels, consider adverse impacts of release on biological communities and species in the Nature Preserve and recovery potential, as well as the public interest in the conservation and preservation of such nature preserve and any federal, state or local program in furtherance thereof, and state, regional or local comprehensive land use or development plan affecting said parcel and any proposal by a governmental body for the use of said parcel.

(a) The Council shall, on behalf of the Director of DFW, acknowledge receipt of request for release and conduct an initial review thereof at the next scheduled meeting of the Council after receipt of such request.

(b) The Council shall ask for such additional information from the managing agency as deemed necessary. Any requests for release for which additional information has been requested may receive further review at subsequent meetings.

(c) Within 60 days of receiving a request for release from the managing agency or of receiving additional information that may have been requested, the Director of DFW shall hold a public hearing so that the public and other interested parties may comment on the request for release.

1. The Director of DFW shall send notice of the public hearing to the Council, the managing agency, and an area newspaper at least three weeks before the hearing. The Director shall submit a notice of the hearing to the Secretary of EOEA in time for publication in the Environmental Monitor at least 21 days before the hearing.

2. The Director of DFW shall notify the Council and the managing agency of the results of the public hearing within 30 days and provide copies of any comments received to the Council for consideration in their recommendation on the request for release.

(d) The Council shall make recommendations to the Director of DFW in writing whether to reject or approve the request for release no later than 90 days following the receipt of the results of the public hearing. The Council's recommendations about accepting or rejecting requests for release shall be based on whether a site no longer meets the criteria established in M.G.L. c. 131, § 10A through D and 321 CMR 11.00. The managing agency shall be sent a copy of the Council's recommendation to the Director of DFW.

(e) The Director of DFW shall decide within 30 days of receiving the Council's recommendation whether to accept or reject the request for release. The Council, managing agency, and Secretary of EOEA shall be notified in writing of the decision of the Director of DFW.

(f) In the case of DFW lands, the decision of the Director shall be final. In the case of other lands, an appeal to the Secretary of EOEA, or his or her designee, can be made if there is disagreement about release. Upon opinion of the Secretary, the Director of DFW shall implement the decision.

11.10: Alternative Time Schedules

Agencies may propose alternative time schedules for writing nominations and protection plans. The Director of DFW may accept such alternative time frames not specifically required by law when in the Director's judgment strict compliance with the time requirements of the regulations would result in an undue hardship and would not further the intent of M.G.L. c. 131, § 10 A. through C. The party proposing changes in the schedule shall notify the Council, any outside nominators, and the DFW of the proposal and the Director of DFW shall respond in writing, notifying the requestors, the Council, and any outside nominators of the decision made.

11.11: Enforcement

(1) Any officer empowered to enforce the provisions of M.G.L. c. 131 may enforce the provisions of 321 CMR 11.00 where not otherwise contrary to law.

(2) The Attorney General may, on his own initiative or at the request of a managing agency, initiate actions in equity which may include requests for punitive damages and for injunctive relief against violators of the articles of dedication on any land so dedicated. Any ten persons domiciled within the state may bring an action in equity under M.G.L. c. 214, § 7A, to enjoin damage to the environment caused or about to be caused by a violation of 321 CMR 11.00.

11.12: List of Dedicated Nature Preserves

Poutwater Pond Nature Preserve (Holden and Princeton, Worcester County). DFW, 11 acres; MDC, 203 acres.

Regulatory Authority: M.G.L. c. 131, §§ 10A through D.

Last Revised: 11-4-97.