In the spring of 2011, the Great Marsh ACEC Assembly was convened to discuss the potential for developing a cooperative resource management strategy (CMRS) to assist municipalities within the Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to effectively address short- and long-term objectives, issues and concerns for and about the Great Marsh ACEC. This ACEC encompasses much of the coastal areas of Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Essex and (West) Gloucester. The ACEC also includes tidal portions of rivers tributary to Plum Island Sound and Essex Bay in those communities.
The development of the CRMS , drew on the Resource Inventory (CZM 2000) and An Assessment of Resource Management Strategies in the Parker River/Essex Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern (CZM 2002), providing a sound basis for management decisions related to climate change, aquaculture, and boating, among other coastal resource management issues. When presented with a number of options, the Great Marsh ACEC Assembly agreed to move forward to adopt a Vision/Mission Statement and develop a formal CRMS or Resource Management Plan (RMP) as described by the ACEC Program. The specific issues to be prioritized and addressed, as well as the management strategies, responsible parties and timeframes, were defined by the Assembly. The final plan will be presented for adoption by each of the five municipalities and submitted for approval by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs following review by the ACEC Program, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Implementation will take place on a town by town basis, but success of a given management strategy will be dependent upon inter-municipal cooperation and consistency.
The Assembly outlined next steps for RMP development in their final report: Managing the Great Marsh ACEC. Next Steps? Options for Developing a Resource Management Plan. Horsley Witten Group. 2011.