• Vernal pools are unique wildlife habitats best known for the amphibians and invertebrate animals that use them to breed. Vernal pools, also known as ephemeral pools, autumnal pools, and temporary woodland ponds, typically fill with water in the autumn or winter due to rainfall and rising groundwater and remain ponded through the spring and into summer. Vernal pools dry completely by the middle or end of summer each year, or at least every few years. Occasional drying prevents fish from establishing permanent populations, which is critical to the reproductive success of many amphibian and invertebrate species that rely on breeding habitats free of fish predators. Find out more about vernal pools in Massachusetts and what can be found in them by ordering
    our Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools .

    Typical Vernal Pool.  Photo by Jacob E. Kubel.

    Some vernal pools are protected in Massachusetts under the Wetlands Protection Act regulations, as well as several other federal and state regulations, and local bylaws. The NHESP serves the important role of officially "certifying" vernal pools that are documented by citizens, researchers, and other parties. Finding vernal pools is the first step for protection. The Massachusetts Aerial Photo Survey of Potential Vernal Pools pdf format of Survey of Potential Vernal Pools
file size 1MB has been produced by the NHESP to help interested individuals locate likely vernal pools across the state. To view Certified Vernal Pools and Potential Vernal Pools, and to learn about the GIS resources that are available from the NHESP, click here .

    Wood Frog adult.  Photo by Jacob E. Kubel.


    Contact Jacob Kubel at (508)389-6373 regarding the ecology of vernal pools and the certification process.

    Contact your local Conservation Commission or the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the regulatory protection of certified vernal pools. To determine the DEP Vernal Pool Liaison for your town, click here.


    DEP Central Regional Office
    Maryann Dipinto
    627 Main Street
    Worcester, MA 01608
    (508) 767-2711
    DEP Northeast Regional Office
    Wayne Lozzi
    205B Lowell Street
    Wilmington, MA 01887
    DEP Southeast Regional Office
    Dan Gilmore, Chris Ross
    20 Riverside Drive
    Lakeville, MA 02347
    (508) 946-2700
    DEP Western Regional Office
    Karen Hirschberg, Tim McKenna
    436 Dwight Street
    Springfield, MA 01103
    (413) 784-1100