Endangered Species - Habitat Provisions - Massachusetts

...Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person may alter significant habitat...

Citation: M.G.L.A. 131A § 2.

...A landowner may construct a single family house covering no more than three thousand square feet of ground and install any necessary utilities to service said house and construct in a reasonable fashion a single access driveway to the nearest public or private way on a lot having an area of at least three acres; provided, however, that the lot on which said construction takes place was owned by said landowner and in existence on January first, nineteen hundred and ninety; and provided, further, that said lot was not held in common ownership with any adjoining land as of said date. For purposes of this paragraph, the phrase “in existence” shall mean a lot shown on a definitive plan that has received final approval under chapter forty-one or shown on a plan that has been endorsed under section eighty-one P of said chapter.

Citation: M.G.L.A. 131A § 3.

...Upon the effective date of the regulations adopted hereunder the director shall designate significant habitats of endangered or threatened species populations by regulation, after a public hearing, and subject to the provisions of chapter thirty A, on the basis of the best scientific evidence available, after taking into consideration the following criteria:

(i) the current and foreseeable threats to the population or its habitat; 

(ii) the size of the population; 

(iii) the potential benefits of designation to the population and to the status and welfare of the species generally; and

(iv) current and foreseeable uses of the land.

The director shall review and designate qualifying significant habitats on a yearly basis and may, from time to time, revise such designation by regulation as appropriate. The designation and revision of designation of significant habitat by the director shall constitute the adoption of regulations subject to the provisions of chapter thirty A. The location of designated significant habitat shall be marked on maps available for inspection by record owners and shall be described by metes and bounds or another adequate method which identifies the boundaries of the significant habitat.

Record owners of lands or interests in lands containing habitat to be so designated shall be notified by certified mail not less than thirty days prior to the public hearing regarding such designation. Upon the adoption of the regulation designating the significant habitat, the director shall cause a document identifying the location of each habitat so designated, together with a list of the assessed owners of such lands, to be recorded in the proper registry of deeds or, if such lands are registered, in the registry district of the land court, and shall send, by certified mail, a copy thereof to each record owner. Maps showing the location of significant habitats shall be made available to local zoning boards, planning boards and conservation commissions or, where none of the above exist, the local board of selectmen or mayor and the city council, in those communities where such habitats occur.

Local zoning boards, planning boards or conservation commissions shall notify the director, in writing, of any and all petitions, requests or applications for permits, orders or approvals regarding proposed activity within significant habitats within twenty-one days of the filing of such petitions, requests or applications.

Record owners of lands or interests in land containing significant habitat may appeal the director's designation of such significant habitat to the secretary of the office of environmental affairs by sending, by certified mail, a notice of appeal to said secretary within twenty-one days of such designation. Said secretary shall hold a hearing on such appeal within a reasonable time, and in no case later than one hundred and twenty days from the date of such designation. Said secretary shall consider the information and testimony presented at the hearing and shall make a determination thereon within sixty days. Said secretary shall reverse the decision of the director only upon a finding that such decision was without substantial basis in fact. Upon the reversal of a decision, the director shall rescind the regulation, or a part thereof, which established such designation, as it affects the appealing record owner.

In addition to the aforementioned appeal, owners of land containing significant habitat may, within twenty-one days of designation, petition the director to consider purchasing such habitat from monies appropriated by the general court or from bond funds...

Citation: M.G.L.A. 131A § 4.

Land not less than five acres in area shall be deemed to be recreational land if it is retained in substantially a natural, wild, or open condition or in a landscaped or pasture condition or in a managed forest condition under a certified forest management plan approved by and subject to procedures established by the state forester in such a manner as to allow to a significant extent the preservation of wildlife and other natural resources, including but not limited to, ground or surface water resources, clean air, vegetation, rare or endangered species, geologic features, high quality soils, and scenic resources. Land not less than five acres in area shall also be deemed to be recreational land which is devoted primarily to recreational use and which does not materially interfere with the environmental benefits which are derived from said land, and is available to the general public or to members of a non-profit organization including a corporation organized under chapter one hundred and eighty.

For the purpose of this chapter, the term recreational use shall be limited to the following: hiking, camping, nature study and observation, boating, golfing, non-commercial youth soccer, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, skiing, swimming, picnicking, private non-commercial flying, including hang gliding, archery, target shooting and commercial horseback riding and equine boarding.

Such recreational use shall not include horse racing, dog racing, or any sport normally undertaken in a stadium, gymnasium or similar structure.

Citation: M.G.L.A. 61B § 1.