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How to file for a MESA project review

In order to protect rare species and their habitats NHESP reviews projects & activities proposed within rare species habitat.

Regulatory Review Contact Information

The Details of How to file for a MESA project review

What you need for How to file for a MESA project review

Proponents with projects and activities within rare species habitat must file with the NHESP for review and approval. This ensures that you are in compliance with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). These habitats are mapped as Priority & Estimated Habitats. Please see our online viewer to determine if your location is mapped as rare species habitat.

Project or Activity means any action, including, but not limited to:

  • grading, excavating, filling, demolition, draining, dumping, dredging, or discharging;
  • the erection, reconstruction, or expansion of any buildings or structures;
  • the construction, reconstruction, improvement or expansion of roads and other ways;
  • the installation of drainage, sewage and water systems;
  • beach nourishment or dune building;
  • the construction or reconstruction of seawalls, groins, dikes, jetties or retaining walls; or the destruction of plant life.

Project proponents should submit a MESA Project Review checklist, filing fee, and the required information outlined on the checklist.

Under the Wetlands Protection Act,if a project is located within Estimated Habitat and a NOI is required, a copy of that NOI must be sent to the NHESP (no later than the date for filing of the NOI with the Conservation Commission) for review.

NOTE:  DEP and NHESP have also developed a Streamlined Notice of Intent process for projects that must be reviewed under both MESA and WPA.

Checks should be made payable to Comm. of MA - NHESP.

Fees for How to file for a MESA project review

Name Fee Unit
Simple MESA Review Filing (less than 5 acres of disturbance) $300 each project
Intermediate MESA Review Filing (5 to 20 acres of disturbance) $1,800 each project
Complex MESA Review Filing (More than 20 acres of disturbance or project requires wetlands variance) $4,000 each project
Linear MESA Review Filing (Projects greater than 1 mile in length) $4,000 per Priority Habitat intersected
Review of Utility Operation Maintenance Plan (321 CMR 10.14 (11)) $3,000 each plan
Vegetation Management Plan (321 CMR 10.14(16)) $3,000 each plan

How to file How to file for a MESA project review

Mail the MESA Project Review Checklist, checklist items, and fee (check made payable to Comm. of MA - NHESP) to the attention of Regulatory Review.

Next steps for How to file for a MESA project review

  1. Review Timelines

    Within 30 days of receiving a filing, we will provide a response letter indicating whether or not the submission is complete. If the submission is complete, we have an additional 60 days to provide a determination.  However, the majority of  project reviews are completed within the first 30 days.

    We are committed to providing review outcomes in a timely manner, often before the regulatory deadline to accommodate Conservation commission hearings, staff time permitting.

  2. Possible Review Outcomes

    During the Regulatory Review process, our review biologists will determine whether the project, as proposed, will impact state-listed species and their habitats. 

    • Under MESA, we will provide a determination letter stating whether or not a project or activity, as currently proposed, will result in a "Take " of state-listed species.  Often projects will not negatively impact state-listed species or their habitats; others may require certain conditions such as timing restrictions to avoid impacts to state-listed species and their habitats.  A small percentage of projects will impact state-listed species or their habitats and must either be revised to avoid such a "Take" or must meet the performance standards for the issuance of a Conservation and Management Permit.
    • Under WPA, we will provide a determination letter to the applicant and the Conservation Commission.  In this letter, we will state whether or not a project, as currently proposed, will have an "Adverse Effect" on the wetlands habitat of state-listed wildlife species.

    Please see our MESA Project Review Decisions Applications Received and Final Decisions .

More info for How to file for a MESA project review

The NHESP understands that there are project proponents who have taken significant action towards implementing a project in reliance on an earlier edition of the Atlas that showed that the project site was not located in Priority Habitat but have since been mapped. Some such projects may not be subject to MESA review if certain permitting milestones (pursuant to 10.13(2)) have been met.

A failure to file under MESA or adhere to the conditions of a Conservation and Management Permit shall constitute a violation of MESA and is subject to a fine (pursuant to 10.06).

Contact for How to file for a MESA project review