The State Organization Index provides an alphabetical listing of government organizations, including commissions, departments, and bureaus.
Top-requested sites to log in to services provided by the state
With more than 1,500 miles of Massachusetts shoreline, there's so much to explore and enjoy. This web page gives 10 ways to find the best beaches, ensure a safe and fun visit, and protect and improve the environment along the way.
In Massachusetts, you have more than 1,000 coastal beaches, parks, conservation areas, boat ramps, and ways to the sea to choose from. So, here are some online resources to help you find your perfect shoreline spot:
Massachusetts beaches typically have good water quality. In certain circumstances, however, particularly after heavy rains, contaminants can make the water unsafe for swimming. These websites can help you check the water quality (and temperature—another important quality condition!) before heading to the beach:
What you do both at the beach and at home impacts coastal water quality. To ensure that everyone can have clean and healthy water for swimming and fishing, please do your part to keep our waters clean. At home, some of the best things to do are to properly maintain septic systems, reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, properly dispose of oil and other hazardous waste, and NEVER dump anything down a storm drain. At the beach, always pick up pet waste and use public restrooms—and when you are in a boat, please use sewage pumpout facilities. For more information, see:
Coastal dunes are shifting systems shaped by wind and waves—but they also can be quite stable and provide tremendous storm-damage protection to inland areas. The key to this stability is plants, particularly dune grasses and other plants with extensive root systems, which naturally hold the sand and resist erosion. These otherwise hardy plants are extremely vulnerable to trampling, however. In addition, simply walking on dunes causes sand-landslides that further destabilize the area. So, never walk on or over a sand dune—stick to the designated walkways to reach the beach. These sites give more information:
Threatened and endangered shorebirds share our beaches, and their chicks are extremely vulnerable to foot and vehicle traffic, noise and other disturbances, dogs, and predators that are attracted to food scraps and garbage. The CZ-Tip - Birdwatching on the Coast gives information on threatened and endangered shorebirds in Massachusetts and how to protect them. For specific information on the five species of shorebirds considered threatened or endangered in Massachusetts, see these Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program online fact sheets:
In addition to birds, Massachusetts marine waters are home to seals, turtles, and other wildlife—beaches and tide pools are teaming with sea stars, snails, and other creatures—and dunes and marshes are covered in grasses and wildflowers. When beachcombing, please leave anything that is still alive where you found it, including sand dollars, sea stars, snails, shellfish, crabs, and other crustaceans. Also, do not step on or collect vegetation, including wildflowers—plants prevent erosion and provide habitat and food for wildlife. Finally, not all sea creatures found on land are in trouble. Seals, for instance, often look stranded when they haul themselves up on land to rest. Baby seals in particular can look abandoned when their mother temporarily leaves them in a safe place and goes off to search for food. Whatever large animal you find, keep at least 150 feet back and never touch or feed it. For more information, see:
A day at the beach can turn deadly if you are caught in a rip current, a strong and swift channel of water that flows away from the shore. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves. Each year in the United States, 100 people tragically die in rip currents and lifeguards save another 50,000 from this hazard. By following simple steps, like swimming at beaches with lifeguards, checking rip current forecasts, and strictly following warnings, you can keep you and your family safe. And if you ever get caught in a rip tide, don't panic—try to swim parallel to the shore to escape the current. When you are free from the rip current's pull, you can swim to shore. If you can't swim out of the current, call for help and float and tread water calmly—you will ultimately float out to where the current weakens. These NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) sites give more information:
You're at the beach. It's sunny and warm, but the clouds are building in the distance. It's not raining, but you hear the first rumble of thunder. What do you do? LEAVE THE BEACH IMMEDIATELY! If you can hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck by lightning—and a flat and open area near the water is a dangerous place to be. On average, 58 people are killed by lightning each year in the United States, and many of these people got hit because they waited to take cover. Never stay under a beach umbrella and don't retreat to an open-sided shelter. If you can't get into a closed building, go to your car and keep the windows rolled up. And stay there for at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike. For more, see:
Digging in the sand is a common pastime at the beach, but deep holes can turn deadly when quickly collapsing sand smothers someone in the hole. In a June 2007 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Bradley Maron and Dr. Barry Maron (a father-and-son team) and nurse Tammy Haas outlined their study of this issue and documented 52 incidents over the previous 10 years of people getting submerged in dry-sand holes that had been dug for recreational purposes—six of these incidents happened in New England and 31 of the people buried died. So please, never dig a hole deeper than the knees of the smallest person in the hole. See:
Litter is more than an eyesore; it is a safety problem for people and wildlife. Animals can be killed or injured when they become entangled in discarded fishing line, six-pack holders, and other items, or when they swallow plastic bags, balloons, and other trash that they mistake for food. People are also injured by broken glass or rusty metal. And food scraps attract pests, as well as predators that kill endangered coastal species. So, always dispose of trash properly. Use trash barrels, if they are available and have room—trash placed in overflowing barrels just becomes litter. If you can't dispose of trash at the site properly, take it with you. To find out more about what you can do, see: