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REPORT OF THE CONSERVATION COMMISSION 2009

Phone: 508-347-2506 Fax: 508-347-5886 E-mail: conservation@town.sturbridge.ma.us Office Hours: Mon – Fri. 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Hours may vary seasonally, please call the office)

The Conservation Commission administers the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L Chapter 131 Section 40) and associated regulations (310 CMR 10.00), and the Town of Sturbridge Wetland Bylaw and Regulations. The Conservation Commission also reviews projects within areas of protected rare/endangered and/or priority habitat governed by the Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program, a Division of the MA Fisheries & Wildlife.

Accordingly, any proposed activity that may remove, fill, dredge or alter a wetlands resource area is subject to Conservation Commission approval. Wetlands that are subject to protection under the bylaw and regulations include banks, beaches, isolated wetlands, marshes, wet meadows, bogs, swamps, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, intermittent streams, seasonal wetlands, land under any of the above water bodies, land subject to flooding and land within 200 feet of any of the above areas.

The purpose of Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act is to protect the following eight interests: public and private water supplies, protect ground water, provide flood control, storm damage prevention, prevention of pollution, protection of land containing shellfish, protection of fisheries and protection of wildlife habitat. The Sturbridge Wetlands Bylaw is intended to provide more stringent wetlands and natural resource protection which also serves to protect/provide erosion and sedimentation control, protection of water quality, protection of rare species habitat, protection of recreational values, and protection of agriculture and aquatic activities.

In addition to the responsibilities outlined above the Conservation Commission has “care, custody and control” of several parcels of protected open space in Town. In total the Conservation Commission manages approximately 1,200 acres of open space. The Conservation Commission also reviews all Forest Cutting Plans within the town (approval and public hearing with the Board of Selectman).

The Conservation Commission is made up of Sturbridge residents that share a passion for protecting the wetland resources, and promoting open space in Town. Conservation Commissioners are appointed by Town Administrator and approved by the Board of Selectman, serving 3-year terms. The Commissioners and Staff continue to educate themselves through seminars and training programs sponsored by the MA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the MA Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) in order to keep current with constantly changing regulations, new scientific data and best management practices.

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