Vernal pool protection

Some vernal pools are protected in Massachusetts under the Wetlands Protection Act regulations.
Vernal Pool

We serve an 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.

Contact your local Conservation Commission or the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the regulatory protection of certified vernal pools.

DEP Central Regional Office
627 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608
(508) 767-2711
DEP Northeast Regional Office
205B Lowell Street
Wilmington, MA 01887
DEP Southeast Regional Office
20 Riverside Drive
Lakeville, MA 02347
(508) 946-2700
DEP Western Regional Office
436 Dwight Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 784-1100


Official certification provides a vernal pool, and up to 100 feet beyond its boundary in some cases, certain protections under several state and federal laws.

Originally defined and protected under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act regulations, Certified Vernal Pools now also receive protection under:

  • Title 5 of the Massachusetts Environmental Code,
  • Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act,
  • the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards which relate to Section 401, and
  • the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act.

These regulations help to prevent direct impacts to certified vernal pools and to minimize indirect impacts. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for the implementation of these regulations (except for the Forest Cutting Practices Act, administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation) and has designated specific staff as vernal pool liaisons . 

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