Wetlands Protection Regulations and Forms

Wetlands are found throughout Canton.  Wetlands are areas where water is at or just below the surface of the ground. Although these wetlands can appear dry during some seasons, they contain enough water to support certain plants and soils. Inland wetlands include marshes, wet meadows, bogs, and swamps.

While we now recognize the benefits of wetlands, that recognition has come late. Since Colonial times, almost one third of Massachusetts' wetlands have been destroyed. Concerned about the loss of wetlands, Massachusetts adopted the nation's first wetlands protection laws in the early 1960s. Today, wetlands are protected by federal, state and local laws.

The Wetlands Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) Chapter 131, Section 40) and the Town of Canton Wetland Protection Bylaw XV (1980) protect wetlands and the public interests they serve, including flood control, prevention of pollution and storm damage, and protection of public and private water supplies, groundwater supply, fisheries, land containing shellfish, and wildlife habitat. These public interests are protected by requiring a careful review of proposed work that may alter wetlands. The law protects not only wetlands, but other resource areas, such as "land subject to flooding" (100-year floodplains) and the riverfront area (added by the Rivers Protection Act).

The Canton Conservation Commission ensures that proposed activities will not alter resource areas and the public interests they provide by reviewing projects on a case-by-case basis according to regulations [310 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 10.00]. The regulations describe how each type of resource area provides one or more of the public interests. The regulations also spell out the type and extent of work allowed in resource areas. Proposed work must meet these standards. This information helps landowners and developers plan their work and helps commissions apply the law to specific projects.

The law regulates many types of work in resource areas, including vegetation removal, regrading, and construction of houses, additions, decks, driveways, and commercial or industrial buildings. The Canton Conservation Commission supports "smart growth". Land disturbing activities and new construction projects including redevelopment are important for economic growth, public access and safety, and overall improvements of daily life. Protecting wetlands through our Wetland Permit process helps protect our health and the health of our community while still allowing for construction activity.

In addition to state level protections, the Town of Canton protects all wetlands, including those that are isolated and below the “ILSF” threshold of the Wetlands Protection Act. If you are uncertain what jurisdictional areas your property contains, you may first submit a WPA Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) or a WPA Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) to confirm jurisdiction. 

The following activities within the Buffer Zone (30 to 100 feet from a wetland) do not require filing with the Conservation Commission: 

  1. Unpaved pedestrian walkways for private use, provided there is not tree or shrub clearing; 
  2. Fencing, provided it will not constitute a barrier to wildlife movement and is not located within the 30' No Build Zone; 
  3. Stone walls; 
  4. Stacks of cordwood; 
  5. Solar panels placed on an existing rooftop;
  6. Plantings of native species of trees, shrubs, or groundcover, but excluding turf lawns; 
  7. The conversion of impervious to vegetated surfaces, provided erosion and sedimentation controls are implemented during construction; and 
  8. Maintaining, repairing, or replacing, but not substantially changing or enlarging an existing and lawfully located structure or facility used in the service of the public to provide electric, gas, water, drainage, sanitary sewer, telephone, telegraph or other telecommunication services provided that written notice has been given to the Commission 14 days prior to the commencement of work. 
  9. Emergency projects necessary for the protection of the health or safety of the public, provided that an Emergency Certification is issued by the Commission or its Agent for the proposed work.

All other work proposed within 100 feet of a wetland or 200 feet of a river or stream requires a permit. 

To find the forms needed to apply for a permit under the MA Wetlands Protection Act, please visit the Department of Environmental Protection website : https://www.mass.gov/lists/wetlands-permitting-forms To apply for a local law only permit please download the form at the bottom of this page.