Wetlands State Resource Locator

State Wetlands Information Tool (SWIFT)


Massachusetts

Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.

Primary State Wetlands Web Page. This web page should explain the state wetlands program and provide links to various wetlands resources.

Construction Permit Process - State Rules

    How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by Massachusetts? The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulates wetlands. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection guards wetlands by forbidding any obstruction, encroachment, alteration, or pollution of wetlands. Permission to conduct activities in a wetland is obtained through a determination or order made by the Conservation Commission.

    Mitigation Measures. Mitigation of adverse impacts may be accomplished by repairing, rehabilitating or restoring the affected resource area or compensating for an adverse impact by enhancing or providing replacement resource areas.

    The permit issuing authority, at their discretion, may authorize a disturbance of up to 5,000 square foot of bordering vegetated wetlands alteration, provided the disturbed wetlands are replicated (310 CMR 10.00). As part of exercising the discretion to authorize disturbance of wetlands, the applicant should document that the project avoids, minimizes, and mitigates wetlands disturbance, in that order.

Regulatory Definitions
    Wetlands. Fresh water wetlands are defined as "wet meadows, marshes, swamps, bogs, areas where groundwater, flowing or standing water or ice provide a significant part of the supporting substrate for a plant community at least five months of the year." Areas within the buffer zone or 300 feet of the regulated wetland are also covered.

    Wetland Categories. The state differentiates between inland or freshwater wetlands and coastal wetlands.

    Regulated Wetland Activities. A permit is generally required whenever a person intends to dredge, fill, remove or alter a wetland.

    Exempt Wetland Activities. There are limited exceptions for work associated with public utilities, agriculture, roadwork, construction of certain minor structures, the repair and maintenance of existing structures, including surface water control structures. Regulation variances are also available when there is no reasonable alternative that would allow the project to happen, mitigation measures are proposed, and the variance is necessary to meet an overriding public interest.

Wetland Regulatory Background Information Organizations/Non-Government Programs
  • Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.

  • Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.

  • Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.

  • Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.

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