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Overview and Index - CZM Coastal Habitat Program

Find a summary of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Coastal Habitat Program.

This CZM Coastal Habitat Program index includes descriptions of and links to: program priorities, information on coastal habitats, related CZM programs, and past CZM efforts. 

Program Priorities

Information on Coastal Habitats

  • Overview of Coastal Habitats in Massachusetts - This web page provides a general overview of habitats found along the Massachusetts coast, with links to a variety of resources describing these habitats and their importance.
  • Massachusetts Wetlands - This page focuses on the types of wetlands in Massachusetts, their ecology and functions, loss and degradation through times, and impacts of climate change.
  • CZM Coastal Habitat Publications - An annotated listing of all CZM publications related to coastal habitat is provided, covering: general habitat, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Eelgrass, Salt Marsh, and more.

Related CZM Programs

The following CZM program areas also focus on issues affecting coastal habitat, as well as specific habitat types:

Previous Coastal Habitat Programs Administered by CZM

From 2003-2009, CZM administered the state’s Wetlands Restoration Program (WRP), which has since merged with the Riverways Program to create a new Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) within the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. DER focuses on pro-active ecological restoration of coastal and inland aquatic systems—an important step in the advancement of restoration efforts in the Commonwealth. CZM continues to work with DER on priority projects in the coastal zone.

In addition, CZM directed the coastal Areas of Critical Environmental Concern Program until 1993, when the program was transferred to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (who covers both coastal and inland ACECs). ACECs are places in Massachusetts that receive special recognition because of the quality, uniqueness, and significance of their natural and cultural resources. These areas are identified and nominated at the community level and are reviewed and designated by the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. ACEC designation creates a framework for local and regional stewardship of critical resources and ecosystems. CZM continues to assist communities in coastal ACECs in coordination with DCR’s ACEC Program.

Additional Past CZM Coastal Habitat Efforts

  • Aquatic Habitat Restoration Task Force Report and Recommendations - In May 2007, the Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary formed the Aquatic Habitat Restoration Task Force, which was chaired by CZM. The Task Force held six meetings from August to November 2007 and developed a consensus report and recommendations for aquatic habitat restoration.
  • Parker River/Essex Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) Fellowship Project - The Great Marsh ACEC (originally called the Parker River/Essex Bay ACEC) includes 25,500 acres of barrier beach, dunes, saltmarsh, and water bodies in Essex, Gloucester, Ipswich, Newbury, and Rowley. In 1999 and 2000, CZM hosted a coastal fellow who worked with CZM to improve stewardship efforts in this ACEC. A detailed inventory that describes the natural resources of the area, a natural resource management assessment, and many other outreach and technical assistance materials were developed through this project.
  • Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) - This grant program was initiated by the U.S. Congress in 2002, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages an annual competitive process to select projects for congressionally appropriated funding. Since 2013, however, funding has only been available for CELCP projects through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, for which Massachusetts is not eligible. For more information, see the NOAA Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program website.
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