Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Conservation Corner for March 5‏

Conservation Corner, March 3, 2008
an occasional column written for the West Newbury News
by Deb Hamilton, West Newbury Conservation Commissioner

What are wetlands, and why should we protect them?

Holy Cross College is always the site for the Annual Environmental Conference of Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, which took place last Saturday. Representatives from every town, city and agency attend, as do botanists, soil scientists, engineers, wildlife protection advocates, trappers, forestry people and Federal folk. Some of the wide range of topics covered in 30 different workshops and training programs included plant identification, wildlife habitats, stormwater regulations, rivers protection, control of invasives and maintaining drinking water quality.

We, as Conservation Commissioners, are charged with protecting and preserving the edges of the natural world by means of adhering to State Regulations spelled out in the Wetlands Protection Act. In a nutshell, any development which alters an existing wetland falls under the Act, as does activity within a 100' buffer zone around it. Streams and rivers have additional layers of protection, limiting activity along their banks, and vernal pools receive yet more additional attention.

In the weeks ahead, I'll attempt to share with you the various types of wetlands around us, and the rationale for their conscientious stewardship. If you have any questions or comments, I hope you'll contact me at deb@deborahhamilton.com, and I'll include your thoughts in future columns.

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