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News Celebrating 30 Years of Endangered Species Legislation

Public invited to engage in rare species conservation and protection efforts
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program

Media Contact for Celebrating 30 Years of Endangered Species Legislation

Marion Larson, MassWildlife

Signing of MESA

Thirty years ago on December 27, 1990, the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) was signed into law. This important conservation legislation established the basis for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to list rare species in the state as endangered, threatened, or special concern and provided protection through conservation and restoration. This year, despite the pandemic, MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) not only continued their conservation efforts in the forests, meadows, waters, and home offices, they coordinated a year-long celebration of this milestone anniversary to increase public awareness and engagement in endangered species protection. There is still much work to be done to address current and future threats to rare species and their habitats. MassWildlife continues to encourage individuals and groups to become involved in this ongoing effort.

Since 1990, many important accomplishments such as restoring bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and rare turtle populations, creating and maintaining critical habitats, and mapping rare wildlife and plant locations could not have been achieved without the assistance of passionate groups and individuals. To build new and to strengthen current partnerships and collaboration, MassWildlife encourages budding conservationists, educators, and seasoned naturalists to consider the following activities that help contribute to endangered species conservation:


  • NHESP’s work is primarily funded through grants, regulatory review fees, and donations from supportive citizens. Your donation to NHESP goes directly to the conservation of rare animals and plants in the state. These donations are critical to ensure the dedicated NHESP staff can continue to perform important conservation work. You can donate online, by check or through your state income tax form


  • Encounter a rare animal or plant? Found a vernal pool? – A new user-friendly portal to help people to provide information on rare species and vernal pool observations will be launching in early 2021. Named the Heritage Hub, this new data entry system upgrades the current reporting system. Check here for updates on the new Heritage Hub system. Seasoned users are advised not to use the old system and wait to enter their 2020 observations in the new system when it launches.


  • Massachusetts Wildlife MESA Special Edition – The 2020 third issue of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine is devoted entirely to endangered species conservation with copies available for purchase. Consider subscribing!

  • Species Spotlights – Fun facts and conservation information on a dozen state-listed species featuring a turtle, butterfly, flowers, birds, and other rarities.

  • Rare Species Success Stories – Many species have benefited from MESA and the work of NHESP. Check out this short history on the successful efforts to bring back peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and the northern-red-bellied cooter.

  • Meet the Staff Protecting Endangered Species – Watch this previously recorded virtual event to celebrate Endangered Species Day. You can “meet” several NHESP staff who share their interest in conservation and talk about the rare species work they are doing.

  • Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Home Page – To learn more about the Program, you can start at this landing page and explore all that NHESP does to conserve endangered species.

  • Learn about Endangered Species Near You – Check out the Rare Species Viewer showing rare species habitat throughout the state.


Stay up-to-date with the latest information on rare species conservation:

Get Outside 

  • Visit a MassWildlife Wildlife Management Area near you! Open to outdoor recreation such as fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, hiking, and other nature-based activities. Plan a visit through MassWildlife’s Lands Viewer.

  • Try these nature-based activities to encourage family and friends interest in the outdoors!


Photo caption: The signing of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act by Governor Michael Dukakis on December 27, 1990 at the State House in Boston. Pictured (left to right) are MassWildlife staff: Lew Schlotterbeck, Ellie Horwitz, Thomas French, Wayne MacCallum, Dick Cronin (Director), Patricia Swain, Henry Woolsey, Peter Otis, and Jay Copeland.

Media Contact for Celebrating 30 Years of Endangered Species Legislation

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.

MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program 

The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state, as well as the protection of the natural communities that make up their habitats.