Wetlands Information

Wetlands are an important feature in the protection of water resources in Massachusetts. They can help clean drinking water supplies. Wetlands prevent flooding and storm damage during storm events. And wetlands also support a huge variety of wildlife!

Table of Contents

Education & Outreach

YouTube

  • Permitting Ecological Restoration Projects under the Wetlands Protection Act

    MassDEP revised the wetlands regulations to encourage wetland restorations to support ecological connectedness and resilience, adaptation to sea level rise, and flood and storm damage protection for private property and public infrastructure. The regulatory process and procedures are explained in this video. (2013 Wetlands Program Development Grant)
     
  • The Wetlands Stream Crossing Standards

    The Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards were incorporated into the wetlands regulations to support resilience to stream crossing infrastructure and to help maintain ecosystem integrity for fish and wildlife passage and to promote stream continuity. This video explains the standards for wetland resources that can also help to mitigate riverine flooding due to larger and more frequent storms. (2013 Wetlands Program Development Grant)
     
  • Stream Crossing Catastrophe

    This video illustrates how an undersized stream crossing can damage roadways that potentially affect public safety and local economies where the crossing serves as a major thoroughfare.
     
  • Vulnerable Wetlands (2011 Wetlands Program Development Grant):
    MassDEP received Wetland Program Development grants from the U.S. EPA to create YouTube videos and training for MS4 communities on how to develop and use GIS maps as stormwater management planning tools. 

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 1: What they are and why they are important

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 2: Stormwater and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 3: Headwater streams and vernal pool clusters 

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 4: GIS maps - vulnerable wetlands index and subwatershed of interest

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 5: GIS Maps - subwatershed of interest series

    Vulnerable Wetlands Part 6: 10 rules of thumb to protect and restore vulnerable wetlands

Wetlands Monitoring & Assessment

Final wetland monitoring and assessment reports, including field and assessment data.

Wetlands Permitting & Forms

These forms will help you apply for permits for wetlands projects.

Key Actions for Wetlands Permitting & Forms

Additional Resources for Wetlands Permitting & Forms

Online Filing

  • Online Wetland Permitting

    Electronic filing allows MassDEP to more easily track permitted impacts, determine responsibility for wetland loss, pursue enforcement, and monitor compliance & mitigation success.

  • eDEP Online Filing

    A secure site for submitting environmental permits, transmittals, certifications, and reports electronically to MassDEP.

Wetlands Regulations

Wetlands Guidance

Stormwater Policies & Guidance for Wetlands

Stream Crossings

 

Emergency Information

Wetlands Policies

Wetlands Mapping

  • Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS)

    Through the Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS), the Commonwealth has created a comprehensive, statewide database of spatial information for mapping and analysis supporting emergency response, environmental planning and management, transportation planning, economic development, and transparency in state government operations.

  • Communities with Previously Registered Wetlands

    Cities and towns that currently have registered wetlands with accompanying restriction orders under either the Coastal Wetlands Restriction Act (c.130, s.105) or the Inland Wetlands Restriction Act (c.131, s.40A).

  • Wetlands Program - Orthophotoquad Map Use & Distribution

    List of possible municipal uses for Wetlands Orthophotoquad Maps.

  • Massachusetts Ecological Integrity Maps and MassDEP Maps Depicting Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance

    These maps are intended to help prioritize land for conservation based on the assessment of ecological communities. The maps represent a percentage of the landscape with the highest wildlife-habitat value. Activities in these areas that are subject to the Wetlands Protection regulations should conduct a detailed wildlife habitat evaluation.

  • Eelgrass Mapping Project

    The current MassDEP Eelgrass layer is being updated. A paper has been published explaining the methodology of the updates.

  • Wetlands Loss Maps Q&A

    This Q&A describes Wetlands Loss Maps. In order to protect this valuable land, MassDEP began compiling aerial photographs of the state to track the alteration and loss of wetlands. By comparing the photos, MassDEP can more effectively enforce the Wetlands Protection Act to restore already damaged areas and devise better strategies to prevent the destruction of these valuable resource areas. 

  • Wetlands Maps: Mouth of Coastal River

    Massachusetts Mouth of Coastal River Maps: These maps identify the Mouth Of The River (MOR) for coastal rivers in order to provide a clear, consistent, and predictable means of locating all river mouths in the Commonwealth.

US EPA Wetlands Program Development Grant Projects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Wetlands Program Development Grants (WPDG), funded under 104(b)(3) of the Federal Clean Water Act, has provided funding for many of MassDEP’s innovative projects. These projects enhance and support the Wetlands Program’s goals to assess our state’s wetlands conditions/health through monitoring, research, mapping and to develop science-based regulations, policies and guidance.  WPDG’s have also provided initial resources for permit related electronic tools and technical assistance to local officials, applicants, and the general public. The projects listed here, although found elsewhere on MassDEP’s website, demonstrate the depth and breadth of projects resulting from this collaborative effort.

  • Massachusetts’ Valuable Coastal Floodplains – An Outreach Initiative – 2021- 2022 WPDG

    Project Description, Objectives and Tasks: This grant was recently awarded to MassDEP in Summer 2021. In preparation for and to support the upcoming wetlands regulation revisions that will incorporate new performance standards for Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage (LSCSF), also known as the coastal floodplain, and to enable better public understanding of the purpose and goals of protecting that wetlands resource area, MassDEP will produce an outreach-curriculum package focused on reaching a wide public audience. The outreach deliverables will be facilitated by specialists in GIS and Marketing overseen by MassDEP and MCZM staff.

    The project tasks and products consist of three interrelated components that will include GIS/ESRI StoryMap showcasing up to six MA coastal floodplain locations in developed, semi-developed, and undeveloped areas, with photographs, including some from before and after past storm events that show the impacts to structures, infrastructure, and natural landforms, for each location. In addition, brochures and infographics will be produced that describe coastal floodplain functions and how they support storm damage prevention, flood control and the state’s climate resiliency effort (e.g., “Rules of Thumb for Protecting the Coastal Floodplain”).

  • Facilitating River and Stream Crossings Improvements in Massachusetts - 2019-20 WPDG

    Project Description, Objectives and Tasks: This grant is scheduled to be completed in 2022. It involves the development of tools that will help facilitate wetland permitting of river and stream crossing replacement projects to improve aquatic organism passage (AOP) for fish and wildlife statewide and promote resiliency for future flood flows. Many roadway crossings of rivers and streams in Massachusetts are undersized resulting in substantial impacts to fish and wildlife movement and to the survival of organisms and their populations. Additionally, undersized structures lack the resiliency needed to withstand large floods and potential changes in flood flows.  This grant is a partnership between MassDEP, USGS, and UMass-Amherst.

    There are two projects within this grant: 1) development of a simple guidance for local and state regulating authorities and applicants that will facilitate wetland permitting of river and stream crossing replacements that improve fish and wildlife passage and explain how to apply the wetlands regulations; 2) examine the feasibility of creating an easy to use web-based tool that includes a statewide hydraulic model to determine the optimal replacement crossing structure size that balances maximum habitat connectivity, structural resiliency, and minimizing negative impacts from downstream flooding and property damage. Work completed thus far includes multiple briefings and progress towards the final deliverables. UMass is responsible for Project 1 to develop a simple guidance and is working to finalize that document. The final submittal is expected to be submitted to EPA no later than September 2022. USGS is finalizing the feasibility analysis that supported moving forward with the project. The final deliverable is expected to be complete by June 2022.

    Following the presentation of results, a concurrent but separately funded task began that includes development of a prototype web based hydraulic tool for a pilot basin. This tool is intended to assist applicants with sizing culverts to be resilient and meet aquatic organism passage standards to the maximum extent practicable. This pilot is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2022.

  • Inland and Coastal Wetlands of Massachusetts: Status and Trends

    This report assess the status and trends of wetland resources statewide from 1990 to 2017, using five main data sources. March 2019.
    Inland and Coastal Wetlands of Massachusetts: Status and Trends

  • Stormwater Management – 2017 WPDG

    MassDEP convened an Advisory Committee (AC) to solicit public comment and participation from numerous governmental agencies, development community organizations, environmental organizations, consultant firms, municipalities, and municipal planning associations in preparation for updating the Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook and the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act stormwater regulations. All the information is located within the Stormwater Management section will be reorganized to provide a “one-stop” resource for municipalities and MassDOT as they work to comply with the MS4 and TS4 requirements.
    https://www.mass.gov/guides/info-details/massachusetts-stormwater-management-updates-advisory-committee

YouTube

Wetlands Monitoring & Assessment – 2009-2021

See "Wetlands Monitoring & Assessment" link in Table of Contents on this page.

Hydraulic Assessment of Seven Stream Crossings – 2014 WPDG

Hydraulic Assessment of Existing and Alternative Stream Crossings Providing Fish and Wildlife Passage at Seven Sites in Massachusetts

Mapping and Protecting Vulnerable Wetlands and Stormwater Management Planning Project

These maps show where each community's vulnerable wetlands are located relative to developed sites, so that they can better determine and plan the appropriate placement for, and type of, stormwater-control options to better protect these resources and reduce phosphorus loading to the Charles River. 2011 WPDG.
https://wwww.mass.gov/guides/mapping-and-protecting-vulnerable-wetlands-and-stormwater-management-planning-project

MassDEP's Wetlands Circuit Rider Program

Circuit riders provide technical, administrative, and regulatory assistance to conservation commissions, municipal boards, and consultants, in implementing the provisions of the Wetlands Protection Act. This successful program was developed through an early WPDG grant in the 1990’s and was eventually incorporated into the statewide Wetlands Protection program.
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massdeps-wetlands-circuit-rider-program

Image credits:  Matt Naughton
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