Landowner’s Guide to Mass. Wetland’s Law

Floods Happen

Pictured left is the Ipswich River over Asbury Street in Topsfield during the May, 2006 flood. Floodplains held flood waters in reserve to be metered out over time and thus minimizing destruction to houses.


If you need to wear muck boots, its probably protected.  

Officially the list is: 

Any Bank, any freshwater wetland, any coastal wetland, any beach, any dune, any flat, any marsh, or any swamp bordering on the ocean, any estuary, any creek, any river, any stream, any pond, or any lake; Land under any of the water bodies listed above; Land subject to tidal action; Land subject to coastal storm flowage; Land subject to flooding; the Riverfront Area (generally 200 feet from the mean high water of a river.)


-protection of public and private water supply 

-protection of ground water supply 

-flood control 

-storm damage prevention  -prevention of pollution 

-protection of land containing shellfish 

-protection of fisheries 

-protection of wildlife habitat 

You are responsible

If you own a wetland or are in the buffer zone of a wetland, you have assumed certain responsibilities to protect that wetland from your own activities.  You can learn to like your wetland and there are good reasons to like it.

Do you like to eat fish, or prefer not to suffer from emphysema, or wish to limit your exposure to chemicals that cause cancer, or drink clean water? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions than you have benefitted by the services that wetlands provide to you free of charge.