Our Program

Buzzards Bay NEP Identity and Mission

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) is an advisory and planning unit of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). We receive funding from, and are part of, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program. Our mission is to protect and restore water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed through the implementation of the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP).

The Buzzards Bay NEP is one of 28 National Estuary Programs in the United States and its territories. These programs have become a model for watershed management and planning around the country. For more information about the National Estuary Program, go to the Association of National Estuary Programs  website.

Created in 1985 as the Buzzards Bay Project, and joining the National Estuary Program in 1987, the Buzzards Bay NEP completed the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan in 1991. In 2013, we updated the Buzzards Bay CCMP (read the 2013 update). This plan is a blueprint for the protection and restoration of water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its watershed, and was one of the first plans of its type. Today, the Buzzards Bay NEP provides funding and technical assistance to municipalities and non-governmental organizations to implement actions that meet the goals and objectives contained in the Buzzards Bay CCMP.

Buzzards Bay NEP Structure

Under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act, a governor may propose to EPA the designation of an estuary of national significance, and the establishment of a “Management Conference.” A Management Conference is the governing structure that establishes all the committees and sub committees needed to undertake National Estuary Program responsibilities and tasks, namely to characterize pollution and habitat problems in the estuary, to develop a CCMP to address those problems, and to monitor and facilitate the implementation of actions toward CCMP goals. Generally after a CCMP is completed, the Management Conference is restructured. The present-day Buzzards Bay NEP Management Conference consists of a Policy Committee and Steering Committee, although the original Management Conference organization differed (see program history below).

The 6-member Steering Committee is composed of CZM, the U.S. EPA, the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and two nonprofits: the Buzzards Bay Action Committee (BBAC), which is composed of municipal officials, and the Buzzards Bay Coalition, a citizen-based group. Both the BBAC and the Coalition are offshoots of the Buzzards Bay NEP’s original Citizens Advisory Committee.

The representatives of the Buzzards Bay NEP Steering Committee are the CZM Director (Bruce Carlisle), the DEP Deputy Regional Director (Dave Johnston), Manager of the U.S. EPA Ocean and Coastal Protection Unit (Regina Lyons), Director of SRPEDD (Bill Napolitano acting representative), BBAC President (Mike O’Reilly), and President of the Buzzards Bay Coalition (Mark Rasmussen), or their designee.

The mission of the Steering Committee is to advise the Buzzards Bay NEP Executive Director in developing the program’s annual work plan and budget, review progress on implementation activities, and assist in building active partnerships. While the Buzzards Bay NEP does not have a standing Citizens Advisory Committee, the non-profit organizations, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee and the Buzzards Bay Coalition fulfill that roll in their participation on the Steering Committee. The Buzzards Bay NEP Executive Director also attends the monthly meetings of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, and quarterly meetings of the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Science Advisory Committee. The Buzzards Bay NEP’s participation in these meetings ensures that the program has a mechanism for identifying existing and emerging issues.

A Policy Committee representing the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England Regional Administrator, heads up the Buzzards Bay NEP’s Management Conference. The Policy Committee (or their representatives) approves the Buzzards Bay NEP’s annual work plan and budget through the signing of an annual Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. EPA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Buzzards Bay NEP works closely with other agencies and organizations on an ad hoc basis to implement specific projects that meet the goals of the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.

Address: Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, 2870 Cranberry Highway (Rt. 6), East Wareham, MA 02538. Go to the finding us page for a map.
Communications: Phone: (508) 291-3625, fax: (508) 291-3628, email: Tracy.Warncke@state.ma.us

History of the Buzzards Bay NEP

The Buzzards Bay NEP began in 1985 as the Buzzards Bay Project, as part of an appropriation bill targeting five estuaries of national significance. This funding initiative set the stage for the creation of the National Estuary Program in the 1987 passage of the Clean Water Act. In 1987, Buzzards Bay was designated entry into the National Estuary Program by the U.S. EPA. The Massachusetts governor convened a Management Conference to characterize environmental problems in Buzzards Bay, and develop management recommendations to be contained in a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. This Management Conference originally consisted of the over-arching Policy Committee, a 20-member Management Committee, a Science Advisory Committee, a Citizens Advisory Committee, a Management Plan Advisory Committee, and the staff to the program. In 1987, soon after the Buzzards Bay NEP designation, the Citizens Advisory Committee split to form the Buzzards Bay Advisory Committee (later Action Committee when it became a non-profit) and the Buzzards Bay Coalition, both eventually becoming independent nonprofit organizations.

In 1992, after completion of the Buzzards Bay CCMP, the Management Committee restructured the Management Conference, and replaced itself with a Steering Committee composed of those parties most interested in continuing to participate in ensuring implementation of the Management Plan. Other committees were dissolved. The Steering Committee is led by the CZM representative, a reflection of CZM’s role and responsibilities in helping facilitate the implementation of the Management Plan, and a reflection of the agency’s role in directly supervising the CZM employees that staff the NEP.

Future of the Buzzards Bay NEP

In 2016, Congress reauthorized the National Estuary Program (section 320 of the Clean Water Act), and the program continues to receive annual appropriations. The Buzzards Bay NEP continues to use its federal funding toward facilitating action to support Buzzards Bay CCMP goals. The Buzzards Bay NEP hopes to continue this strategy well into the future to benefit municipalities, residents, industry, tourists, shellfishermen, recreational boaters, and all the other stakeholders that value the water quality and living resources of Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed.