Resource Areas Protected in Needham

Some wetland resource areas, such as rivers and ponds or areas that contain standing water are easy to identify; other wetland resources may be less obvious or may be complex and require some level of technical expertise with knowledge of such terms as intermittent or perennial stream status.

Wetland Areas that are Protected by the Conservation Commission

Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to find out what types of wetland resource areas may exist on or abutting your property and whether your project requires review by the Conservation Commission. The following is a list of protected wetland resource areas found in Needham:

  • Any land within 100 feet of a wetland - the "buffer zone" is also protected because this area is important to the wetland and to wildlife habitat
  • Any land within 200 feet of a river or perennially-flowing stream - the "riverfront area" is protected by the Rivers Act
  • Banks of ponds, lakes, rivers and streams
  • Bordering land subject to flooding
  • Floodplains - areas along streams or rivers that are flooded in major storms
  • Fresh water wetlands, including swamps, marshes, and bogs
  • Intermittent streams that may be dry for some portion of the year
  • Isolated land subject to flooding
  • Land under a water body, such as a pond or river
  • Man-made ponds or ditches
  • Rivers and perennial streams
  • Vegetated wetlands - areas where soils are wet and where wetland plants, such as red maple, skunk cabbage, cattails, purple loosestrife, cinnamon and sensitive fern occur.
  • Vernal pools - shallow spring pools that become dry during the summer
  • Wet meadows
  • Ponds and lakes

Wetland Definition

A good regulatory definition of the term "wetland" may be found in the Federal Clean Water Act as: "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.

As such, wetlands are defined -- or delineated -- according to three criteria:

  1. Hydrophytic vegetation: water-tolerant plants that have adapted to wetland conditions
  2. Hydric soils: water-saturated soils that have become oxygen deficient
  3. Hydrologic regime: dominated by the presence of water through flooding or saturated ground