A primary responsibility of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program is the regulatory protection of rare species and their habitats as codified under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (M.G.L. c.131A) and Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L. c.131 s.40). Other legislation that may be pertinent to NHESP's review of a proposed project include:
- The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) (M.G.L. c.30, secs. 61-62H and regulations 301 CMR 11.00) provides the public an opportunity to review proposed projects for environmental impacts, including potential impacts to state-listed rare species. Projects resulting in a "take" of state-listed rare species and disturbing two or more acres of Priority Habitat of Rare Species may be required to file an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) with the MEPA office (301 CMR 11.03(2)). All projects that require the filing of an ENF will be screened by NHESP staff for review.
- Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 132 sec. 40-46) and Regulations (304 CMR 11.00) require the review of certain forest cutting plans for potential impacts to rare species. All Forest Cutting Plans for sites within Priority, or Estimated Habitat will be sent to NHESP for review by a Department of Conservation and Recreation Forester. Please see the Forestry and Rare Species Review page for more information.
- The Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), on which the state Endangered Species Act is somewhat based, is intended to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Species listed under the ESA and which occur in Massachusetts are included on the MESA List as well.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. FERC also regulates natural gas and hydropower projects. NHESP project reviews that include utility work or dam relicensing or removal may result in comments to FERC on the environmental impacts of a project under FERC review.
We are committed to a review process that is timely, responsive, and minimizes disruption to landowners and project proponents while meeting our statutory responsibility to adequately protect endangered species.