Bourne Back River and Headwater Wetlands ACEC

Designation Date: April 1989

Bourne Back River ACEC Designation Document

Approximate Acreage: 1850 acres
Watershed(s): Cape Cod (Buzzards Bay)
Municipalities: Bourne

bourne acec

The Bourne Back River ACEC, just south of the Cape Cod Canal, possesses outstanding natural resources. Most of the marshes, tidal flats, and freshwater wetlands within this ecosystem are unaltered and undeveloped, allowing them to function at their maximum capacity as habitat areas, and nursery and spawning grounds, and in the case of barrier beaches, for the purposes of storm damage prevention. The estuarine/saltmarsh ecosystem, including the headwater wetland areas, supports a wide variety of shellfish, finfish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, within an extraordinary spectrum of habitat types. The Back River Estuary was designated an Estuary of National Significance by the US EPA in 1988, and is part of the Ocean Sanctuaries of Massachusetts. The area contains at least three known state-listed rare and endangered species, including osprey, spotted turtle, and diamondback terrapin.

The area is used extensively by recreational and educational groups, including the local school system, the Northeast Marine Environmental Institute, and the Woods Hole research community.

Water Bodies included (partially or entirely) in the ACEC

  • Harbors, Sounds, Bays: Phinneys Harbor
  • Rivers: Back River
  • Lakes, Ponds: Clay Pond, Eel Pond, Mill Pond
  • Brooks, Creeks: unnamed

Barrier Beaches included in the ACEC

  • Rocky Point Recurved Barrier Spit (Bo-2)


Bourne Back River ACEC Index Map
Bourne Back River ACEC Map 1A

Maps are intended to be used with the written boundary description contained in the ACEC designation document. The mapped boundary is not to be used by itself for definitive ACEC boundary delineation or regulatory interpretation. For review of site-specific projects in or bordering the ACEC, determinations must be made in the field by a certified professional in consultation with the appropriate Conservation Commission(s) and ACEC Program Staff.

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