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Rare species and the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA)

Proposed alterations to wetland habitats of rare wildlife are reviewed by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Due to the current public health emergency posed by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Governor issued “COVID-19 Order No. 17” on March 26, 2020 (see link here). This Order suspends state permitting deadlines and extends the validity of existing state permits. This suspension applies to all applications submitted or received after the Governor’s state of emergency declaration on March 10, 2020. This suspension also applies to all applications received before but with deadlines occurring after March 10, 2020. The review time period for these applications shall resume 45 days after the termination of the current state of emergency. Until that time, the Division will continue to review applications as quickly as possible. Permits and other authorizations valid as of March 10, 2020 shall not lapse or otherwise expire until the termination of the current state of emergency.

Wetlands Protection Act

The Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L. c.131, s.40) and regulations (310 CMR 10.00 ) protect rare animal species by prohibiting alterations that would have short or long term adverse effects on the wetland habitats of rare wildlife species.

The regulations state that we need to review proposed alterations to wetland habitats of rare wildlife . We have created maps of Estimated Habitats of Rare Wildlife as a screening tool. These maps show habitat based on animals observed within the last 25 years.

Additional Resources for

WPA filing

If a project is within Estimated Habitat of Rare Wildlife and a Notice of Intent (NOI) is required, a copy of the NOI must be sent to us for review. Your local Conservation Commission can help you determine if a Notice of Intent is needed.

Unless exempt, you will also need to file under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). If the project is exempt from MESA review, you should be aware that you must still mail a copy of the Notice of Intent to us. We may request a survey for rare species following standard protocols .

We will respond within 30 days of receipt of a complete Notice of Intent filing. Our letter:

  • will inform the Conservation Commission whether the area is actual wetland Resource Area habitat for a state-listed rare wildlife species

  • state whether the proposed project will have an adverse effect on the actual habitat of rare wildlife

  • may contain conditions that you must follow to avoid an adverse effect to rare species habitat, or recommendations for revising the project prior to resubmission.

The conservation commission may then issue an Order of Conditions for the project. The Order of Conditions will include any conditions or project modifications necessary to prevent an "adverse effect". In such cases, the Conservation Commission will mail a copy of the Order of Conditions to us upon issuance.

Additional Resources for

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