Wildlife Habitat Assessments

Wildlife Habitat Assessments are crucial for projects involving development within the Riverfront Area, the floodplain, or other wetland resource areas. These assessments involve a thorough evaluation of the potential impacts of proposed developments on local wildlife habitats.

The process begins with a comprehensive field survey to identify and document the various habitat communities present, from forests and wetlands to vernal pools and stream crossings. The assessment considers a wide spectrum of flora and fauna.

The findings from these assessments are then used to produce an alternatives analysis and mitigation strategy, helping to ensure that any development minimizes its impact on wildlife habitats.

These assessments are a critical component of responsible land use and development planning, securing the preservation of the natural environment even as development occurs.

Rare Plant & Animal Surveys

Rare Plant & Animal Surveys may be required for certain projects within state designated habitats. These detailed field studies determine the presence or absence of state-protected wildlife, rare plant species, and assess the extent of their habitat utilization.

Often required by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) as part of the project review process, these surveys must adhere to pre-established guidelines, ensuring the highest level of expertise and accuracy. Covering a wide range of species, including turtles, salamanders, birds, and flora, the findings from these surveys play a significant role in informing land use decisions. They help ensure that development projects minimize their impact on rare and protected species and their habitats, contributing to the preservation of biodiversity, and the health of our ecosystems.

Vernal Pool Evaluation

Vernal Pools are a unique and important type of wetland habitat found in Massachusetts. A vernal pool is a temporary body of water that hosts a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate species that have evolved to breed free of fish predation. These spring pools host species such as the Wood Frog (Lythobates sylvaticus), Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), and Fairy Shrimp (Anostraca: Eubranchipus).

Certified Vernal Pools when found within the limits of a jurisdictional wetland are afforded a 100' buffer zone and protected under the Wetlands Protection Act. Many local town wetland bylaws strengthen these protections by increasing the size of the buffer zones and creating "No Touch" zones.

If you believe you have a potential vernal pool on your property, it is important to get it evaluated in the spring. The presence of a vernal pool may impact future land use. By investigating early, it puts property owners in the best position to make well informed decisions.