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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.

Requesting Electronic Submittals

In light of current events, all non-essential state employees are working remotely. Electronic submittals, in addition to the required paper submittal, of Notices of Intent, MESA Project Review Checklists, Conservation and Management Permit applications, and Information Requests will now be requested. An electronic copy of the complete submittal (including all attachments) should be sent using a file share service to MESAReview@mass.gov.  

Please ensure that the entire electronic submittal, including attachments and site plans, are accessible and legible and that the link to download the electronic submittal can be accessed by others (not just the direct recipient). Due to volume restrictions of the mass.gov email system, please do not directly send the electronic submittal as a PDF Please be prepared to provide copies of electronic submittals in an alternative format (such as reduced file sizes or zip files) if requested. The electronic copy may be sent in advance of or concurrent with the paper copy.

The thirty day regulatory review period will not begin until a complete paper copy of the submittal, including all attachments and the filing fee, is received by the Division. The paper copy must be mailed to:

1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westbrough, MA, 01581, Attention: Regulatory Review

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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