Our Program

Identity, Mission, and Structure

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program is an advisory and planning unit of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. We receive funding from, and are part of, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program. Created in 1985 as the Buzzards Bay Project, and joining the National Estuary Program in 1987, the Buzzards Bay NEP completed a Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan in 1991. 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 citizens to implement the recommended actions contained in the Management Plan.

Since its inception, a Policy committee, composed of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Secretary and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England Regional Administrator, has been the party ultimately responsible for ensuring that the Buzzards Bay NEP meets its goals. Until 1991, the Buzzards Bay NEP staff was more directly guided by a Management Committee of more than 20 members representing state, federal, and regional agencies, municipalities, and citizens groups. The EPA chaired this Management Committee. The NEP also had standing technical committees, a management plan advisory committee, and other advisory committees.

With the completion of the original Management Plan, the Management Committee replaced itself with a 5-member Steering Committee composed of those parties most interested in ensuring implementation of the Management Plan. These members were Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the US EPA, the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District and two nonprofits: the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, which is composed of municipal officials, and the Coalition for Buzzards Bay (now called the Buzzards Bay Coalition), a citizen-based group. Both the Action Committee and the Coalition were offshoots of the NEP’s Citizen Advisory Committee, which split in 1987 and led to the formation of these two independent nonprofit organizations. Other standing committees of the NEP were abolished. In 2008, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) formally joined the Buzzards Bay Steering Committee, a reflection of their central role in helping implement the Buzzards Bay CCMP.

The new Steering Committee, whose responsibility is to advise the NEP Executive Director and help guide implementation activities, is chaired 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.

While not on the Steering Committee, the Buzzards Bay NEP works closely with several other important agencies to implement the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. These include the Massachusetts the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Division of Marine Fisheries, the Cape Cod Commission, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. All these organizations have collaborated or coordinated with the Program on a wide range of issues and initiatives.

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

Future of the Buzzards Bay NEP

The National Estuary Program was authorized by Congress and continues to receive annual appropriations, and the Buzzards Bay NEP continues to receive funding from the US EPA and Commonwealth of Massachusetts in its efforts to implement the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. With nearly all Program funding directed toward implementation of this Management Plan, the Program helps its partners secure competitive state and federal grants to implement the goals and objectives contained in the Management Plan. This effort has paid big dividends with the NEP securing more than $20 million since 1992. The Buzzards Bay NEP hopes to continue this strategy well into the future to benefit municipalities, citizens, industry, tourists, shell fisherman, recreational boaters, and all the other stakeholders in Buzzards Bay and its watershed.

National Estuary Programs as models for Watershed Management

The Buzzards Bay NEP is one 28 National Estuary Programs in the United States and its territories. These NEPs 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.