Read the Bill
An Act Relative To The Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (H.756, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Kulik) improves the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA), which provides protections for the Commonwealth’s most imperiled species. Since the Act’s enactment, Massachusetts has emerged as a leader in species protection and in providing guidance to private landowners under the law.
MESA authorizes the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) to regulate the protection of state-listed endangered, threatened, or special concern species. DFW reviews proposed development projects to help landowners avoid harming or killing protected species, and in the majority (>95 %) of cases, moves proposals through an efficient review (<90 days) without needing to apply for a detailed permit.
An Act Relative to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Actis a consensus bill that would provide much-needed guidance for both development and conservation by clarifying provisions used to implement MESA. It would also increase transparency by requiring extensive public notice, a comment period, and property owner notification for any newly mapped habitat.
This legislation would:
- Incorporate into the law regulatory provisions on priority habitat mapping, a flexible, efficient screening process used to review proposed project impacts on state-listed species. This would clearly define the review process for landowners.
- Require DFW to update and make available to the public the statewide priority habitat map, subject to an extensive public notice process and 60-day public comment period.
- Provide notification of a public comment period to owners of any properties proposed to be added as priority habitat on the new map.
- Require DFW to define priority habitat using the best scientific evidence available, including a comprehensive examination of individual records documenting the occurrence of a state-listed species on land mapped as priority habitat.
- Lower the mitigation ratio to reduce the amount of conservation land a developer must permanently protect on land external to the proposed work site when a project will impact priority habitat for species of special concern.
- Provide a 14-day public comment period on draft permits, without increasing the time period for issuance of permits.