Locally Grown

An Audio Magazine focusing on ideas, events, issues and discussion heard only on WBCR-LP 97.7 Great Barrington. Locally Grown airs Wednesdays at Noon and is then repeated Saturdays at 10:00 am. Please join us.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Vernal Pool Certification

Certification is the procedure by which citizens in Massachusetts can document the existence of a vernal pool. The documentation material is submitted to the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program which then certifies the vernal pool. When a vernal pool has been certified, it receives automatically any protection afforded to vernal pools under the Wetlands Protection Act. If a pool has not been certified prior to a Notice of Intent hearing, then evidence must be provided during that hearing to support the argument that the water body is a vernal pool. Many towns have local Bylaws which further strengthen the wetland regulations pertaining to vernal pools.

Vernal pool certification requires evidence that a vernal pool exists physically and that it contains the biological indicators which define it as a vernal pool. The most obvious and most easily documented indicators are the "obligate species" which can only be observed during the seasons of breeding and development (fall through summer, depending on the species). Spring is generally the best time to document a pool by the obligate species method. In other seasons of the year, evidence for certification can be gathered by documenting the use of the pool by various "facultative species". These are organisms which use various wetlands as well as vernal pools. If they are using a vernal pool and that pool is free of fish, then the pool can be certified. In a similar manner, if a pool is found in the dry condition (fish-free) and it has remains of facultative species, the dry pool can be certified.

In Massachusetts, vernal pools are certified as "existing" by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program based on documentation by citizens. Documentation for vernal pool certification has three components: 1) you must complete and sign the Observation Form, 2) provide Maps that precisely locate the vernal pool, and 3) provide Evidence for the presence of the vernal pool itself and its use by the indicator species. The Evidence will differ depending on both the season of year and the species you use to certify the pool.

For more information, links and forms: http://www.vernalpool.org/macert_3.htm


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