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MACC Wetlands Buffer Zone Guide Book #288

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MACC Wetlands Buffer Zone Guide Book #288

By: Gillian Davies and other scientists at BSC Group, for researching and writing this Guidebook, the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for funding this project, the MACC Buffer Zone Review Team, and MACC staff

Item # 288

Price: $15 for Members / $19 for Non-Members + shipping & handling

Pages: Ring-Softbound 115 Pages with Case Study Maps



On behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC), I am pleased to provide the MACC Buffer Zone Guidebook to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner, Division of Wetlands and Waterways’ Director and staff, Wetlands Section Chiefs, and Wetlands Circuit Riders.  This Guidebook is intended to be the primary source document for Massachusetts conservation commissioners when reviewing activities in the 100-foot Buffer Zone to Resource Areas regulated under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Chapter 131 Section 40) and implementing regulations (310 CMR 10.00), and under local bylaws and ordinances.  It is a comprehensive reference for commissions, as well as environmental professionals and wetland scientists working in the state. 

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (the “Act”) regulations do not provide performance standards for activities proposed within the 100-foot Buffer Zone associated with regulated wetlands and waterways.  As a result, conservation commissions must make decisions in accordance with the role that Buffer Zones play in protecting the interests of the Act.  The science and analyses provided in this Guidebook are intended to assist conservation commissions in their efforts to evaluate Buffer Zone projects on a case-by-case basis in this regulatory context, as well as in the context of local bylaws and ordinances. 

As MassDEP noted in the March 15, 2017 letter of support for this project:

“…buffer zones are jurisdictional areas under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act regulations but they are not wetland resource areas.  MassDEP has conducted our own literature search of the critical functions of wetland buffers and agrees that the research overall supports greater protection of buffer zones to varying degrees along riparian corridors, headwater streams and other wetland resource areas.  MassDEP attempted to encourage increased protection of buffers through various regulatory mechanisms, but the goal of buffer zone protection remains a vexing one to implement.

 MACC, in their unique role supporting conservation commissions, can provide local alternatives and options to commissions who want to protect buffers that are associated with wetland resource areas and even isolated wetlands, vernal pools and other vulnerable wetlands critical to maintaining the ecosystem integrity and water quality of local natural landscapes.” 


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