Release of the 14th Edition Natural Heritage Atlas, August 1, 2017
- Final maps are available for download or as a viewable file.
- Town maps have been mailed to planning boards, building inspectors and conservation commissions in municipalities where Priority Habitats have been delineated.
- Summary Response to 2017 Draft Priority Habitat Map Comments
- How and Why the Priority and Estimated Habitat Maps Change
The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) reviews forest harvesting projects when they are proposed within Priority or Estimated Habitat for compliance with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and Wetlands Protection Act (WPA), respectively. The NHESP reviews projects within Priority and/or Estimated Habitat in order to determine if the project will result in harm to state-listed species or their habitats, termed a Take under the MESA.
Forestry projects are exempt from the standard project filing requirements,provided they are conducted in accordance with an approved Forest Cutting Plan as required under the Forest Cutting Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 132 sec. 40-46) and its implementing regulations (304 CMR 11.00*).
Review of Forest Cutting Plans
- Forest Cutting Plans are submitted to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for review and approval.
- If the forestry project is proposed within Priority Habitat, DCR staff will forward the Forest Cutting Plan to the NHESP for review.
- NHESP Regulatory Review staff review the plan and determine whether or not the proposed activities will result in a Take of state-listed species.If the project site is only in Priority Habitat, NHESP has 10 business days to issue a determination to DCR. If the project is within both Priority and Estimated Habitat, the NHESP has 15 business days to issue a determination.
- If NHESP determines no impacts to state-listed species or their habitats will result, that determination is provided to DCR. If NHESP determines that a Take may result from the proposed forestry activity, a list of recommended modifications to the plan to avoid the harm to state-listed species or their habitats is provided.
- DCR modifies the plan to incorporate the NHESP recommendations prior to final approval.
Streamlining the NHESP Review Process
- In order to aid landowners submitting Forest Cutting Plans which may impact rare species and their habitats, NHESP has developed specific management guidelines for the state-listed species which have the most frequent conflicts with forestry activities.
- These management guidelines, forestry Conservation Management Practices (CMPs), provide the landowner with guidance for developing and executing a Forest Cutting Plan that will reduce or eliminate harm to the state-listed species and their habitats.
Forest Cutting Plan Information Request Form
Foresters, landowners or other individuals who are interested in forest management and would like to know what rare species are present on the subject property should fill out the Forestry Information Request Form . If you would like for the NHESP to write a determination letter regarding potential impacts to State-listed rare species please be sure to include the supporting documentation (see form for details) with the Forestry Information Request Form and filing fee.
For additional information on CMPs, review of forestry projects, or how to get rare species information for your project site, please contact Brent Powers at (508) 389-6354 or at email@example.com.
Due to severe population declines, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Northern Long-eared Bat in April 2015. To assist project proponents in complying with the 4(d) rule, the NHESP is providing a map for known locations of winter hibernacula and maternity roost trees.