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You need to file with the Conservation Commission whenever work is proposed within 100 feet of a wetland or 200 feet of a perennial stream.
Removal, filling, dredging, grading, building, landscaping in a wetland area is prohibited without a permitting process.
A "Request For Determination Of Applicability" should be used for simple projects that will not alter or impact the wetland or resource area. Major projects such as building, landscaping, commercial developments require a "Notice Of Intent."
Massachusetts Chapter 61 laws reduce property taxes on farmland, forest, or open space in exchange for a commitment from the landowner to keep the land undeveloped. While Chapter 61 in itself does not permanently protect the land, it maintains open space and is often a first step towards more permanent conservation. For more information see the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.
For more information on why Wetlands are important, visit the Wetlands and Nature page of the Environmental Protection Agency website.
The MA Wetlands Protection Act and Regulations and local Wetlands Bylaw include a number of different types of wetlands, and wetland-related areas called "Resource Areas". These include rivers and streams ("perennial" if they run year round, and "intermittent" if they dry up seasonally); lakes and ponds; the vegetated wet areas bordering rivers, streams, lakes or ponds ("bordering vegetated wetlands"); the 100-year floodplain along rivers and streams; and isolated areas that flood seasonally, such as vernal pools. The first 200 feet from the edge of a perennial stream are regulated as "riverfront area". The first 100 feet from a vegetated wetland or stream bank are regulated as "buffer zone".
Most people can recognize a marsh with cattails and standing water as a wetland, but many wetlands are harder for the average person to recognize. By law, the edge of vegetated wetlands is determined by looking at the species of plants that grow there, the soils, and evidence of hydrology. Certain plant species are adapted to grow in wet areas. Soils show if the area has water near the surface at least part of the year. Evidence of hydrology includes ponding, sphagnum moss, flood water lines and debris, and physical adaptations made by plants to wet growing conditions.