About Protecting Sudbury’s Wetlands

Sudbury’s Wetlands: Sudbury hosts a diverse array of wetlands. The Sudbury River, Hop Brook, Pantry Brook, Landam Brook, and dozens of feeder streams snake through town creating a dense weave of riparian wetlands. Kettle hole ponds and wetlands offer reminders of the town’s glacial history. Marshes, swamps, and broad floodplains abound. Well over 100 vernal pools serve as breeding ponds for many amphibian species — including some of the state’s endangered species. Willis Pond, Grist Mill Pond, Carding Mill Pond, and many smaller ponds dot the landscape and provide significant wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for residents.

Why We Protect Wetlands:
Wetlands provide a variety of free “services” to the town:

  • Protection of public & private water supplies,
  • Flood control
  • Storm damage prevention
  • Water and soil pollution prevention,
  • Erosion and sedimentation control,
  • Opportunities for passive recreation, and
  • Wildlife habitat.

Some of these functions and values, such as flood control, are extremely expensive to replace by engineering means and often carry high long term maintenance costs. Other services — such as wildlife habitat — are irreplaceable.

How We Protect Wetlands:

Federal, state, and local laws provide overlapping legal protection of wetland resources in Sudbury. Sections 401 and 404 of the federal Clean Water Act give the US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over certain wetlands.

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act regulates development and other activity in and around wetland resource areas. The Conservation Commission acts as the local agent for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in implementing and enforcing the Act.

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act

The Sudbury Wetlands Administration Bylaw moves several steps beyond the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act to protect local wetlands. A number additional interests and values are identified: erosion and sedimentation control, agriculture, and passive recreation. Vernal pools are protected as a significant additional wetland resource. Smaller ponds are protected. And most importantly, upland areas within 100 feet of wetlands, and within 200 feet of rivers and streams, have been given resource status as adjascent upland resources and are fully protected.

The Sudbury Wetlands Administration Bylaw Regulations

Wetlands related forms are available from our office or from the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act web site.