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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

2013 CCMP, Action Plan 9:
Protecting Bio-Diversity and Rare and Endangered Species Habitat



About the new Buzzards Bay CCMP Action Plans
The Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) was updated in November 2013 to reflect the great progress achieved since the original CCMP was finalized.

On this page is a draft action plan from the updated Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. The text on this page is a public draft provided to invite comment and discussion of the subject by residents and stakeholders. It may contain goals and recommendations that have not yet been endorsed or approved by the Buzzards Bay Steering Committee. The views or information contained here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

You can download the entire document (buzzards-bay-ccmp-2013-update.pdf) or just this action plan Protecting Bio-Diversity and Rare and Endangered Species Habitat.

Protecting Bio-Diversity and Rare and Endangered Species Habitat

Problem

The biodiversity of Buzzards Bay and its watershed, particularly populations of locally rare and endangered species, are threatened by habitat loss, alteration, and stresses caused by human activity and pollution discharges. Vital habitats include those that support protect-ed plants and animals, wetlands, fish nursery and spawning areas, submerged aquatic vegetation, and shellfish beds. Protection of these areas can only be achieved by adequate evaluation of threatened species, mapping their habitat, enforcing existing laws, adoption of new laws to create buffers around these habitats, and education of the public and government officials about their importance. The mapped distribution of listed species and vernal pools suggest that not all areas of the watershed have experienced the same level of baseline mapping effort.

The adoption of municipal conservation plans may be another approach to go beyond project permit review and to achieve more comprehensive and effective strategies to protect key wildlife habitat, and to build necessary public support.

Recommendations and discussions related to this action plan are included in Action Plan 7 Protecting and Restoring Wetlands; Action Plan 8 Restoring Migratory Fish Passage; Action Plan 10 Managing Water Withdrawals to Protect Wetlands, Habitat, and Water Supplies; Action Plan 11 Managing Invasive and Nuisance Species; and Action Plan 12 Protecting Open Space. This action plan addresses problems not discussed in those action plans, especially those issues relating to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

Goal

Goal 9.1. Conserve and protect vital fish and wildlife habitats of Buzzards Bay and in its surrounding watershed.

Objectives

Objective 9.1. Ensure that rare and endangered species areas and vernal pools continue to be mapped and this information made publicly available.

Objective 9.2. Ensure that rare and endangered species habitat is considered in the relevant permit review process.

Objective 9.3. Ensure that important biological and core habitat is protected and conserved.

Objective 9.4. Ensure that the public and government officials are aware of the importance of rare and endanger species and core bio-habitat through effective education efforts.

Approaches

The primary mechanism to permanently protecting the most important habitats in the Buzzards Bay watershed is the purchase or donation of lands for open space protection, or the purchase or donation of conservation restrictions. Municipal conservation commissions and area land trusts should coordinate to both ensure municipal open space plans remain current, and contain clear goals and priorities in targeting the acquisition of priority habitat. Each open space plan update should include the latest information of rare and endangered species habitat, and where appropriate fund inventories to fill data gaps. To provide sufficient funds to meet municipal acquisition goals, all municipalities should consider adopting the Community Preservation Act.

The second most important strategy to protect rare and endangered species habitat is to map accurately these resources. In this regard, municipalities and non-profits should help map listed species habitat and certify vernal pools throughout their community. With technical oversight, volunteers can be trained to map and gather the necessary information to certify vernal pools. Some site investigations can be undertaken by trained individuals using online NHESP reporting tools and species information. Other important habitat types must be mapped by trained wetlands and wildlife biologists. Federal agency staff could provide some assistance to the state in such an effort.

Costs and Financing

Certain costs, like providing trained staff to help or-ganize efforts to certify vernal pools, or update open space plans are relatively modest, and some free technical assistance could be provided by the Buzzards Bay NEP. However, the real cost associated with this action plan is the acquisition of open space and it would be easy for watershed municipalities to utilize several million dollars per year for open space protection. Fortunately, because much of the most desirable land, from an environmental protection point of view, contains considerable areas of wetlands and they are often difficult to build upon, they often have the lowest costs per acre of land available for sale.

Measuring Success

Several direct measures can be tracked for this action plan, with total acres of habitat permanently protected being the most important. Other measures, like the number of vernal pools that have been certified, or species inventoried, are easy to track programmatically. Some species populations within Buzzards Bay or the watershed can be tracked, as is the case with nesting pairs of certain bird species, such as the Roseate Tern and Piping Plover.