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How do I learn more about wetlands? 

 What’s going on around the Reservoirs?

Due to the popularity of Holyoke’s watershed properties – according to the OSRP, people love them! – we frequently get calls and questions about the watershed properties and, oftentimes, people want to know about day-to-day management activities.  The Holyoke Water Department has an existing Watershed Management Plan that specifically spells out what does, and does not, need a filing with the Conservation Commission.  This is an interesting and educational document, and it is worth reading, as it will answer most questions about land management.

Do I have wetlands on or near my property?

Send your name, address, telephone number and the address or map-block-parcel of the site that you are inquiring about to  The Conservation Director will do preliminary research and contact you.  A site visit and determinations from the Conservation Commission are necessary to receive a legally binding response.   Please contact the Conservation Director at 413-322-5615 for assistance with the permitting process.

Does my project or activity require a permit?

If your project or activity is within 100’ of a wetlands, pond, lake or other resource area or within 200’ of a perennial stream, a permit is required.  Please note: the Holyoke Conservation Commission protects isolated wetlands and vernal pools under its local regulations.  A few minor projects and certain maintenance projects may be exempt from permitting.  Contact us for additional guidance prior to performing any work.

Where can I obtain Wetlands Protection Act Application Forms?  What are the filing requirements?

Typically, projects require a WPA Form 1- Request for Determination of Applicability or a WPA Form 3- Notice of Intent.  All Wetlands Protection Act forms can be retrieved from

Local Conservation Commission Fees


project-information-sheet, required under the local ordinance

MA Wetlands Protection Regulations- June 2009  (Includes revisions to stormwater management)

MA Wetlands Protection Regulations Appendices- June 2009

What is the Riverfront Resource Area in the City of Holyoke?

All perennial streams and the Connecticut River in the City of Holyoke are protected by the 200′ Riverfront Resource Area pursuant to 310 CMR 10.58.   Perennial streams are defined according to 310 CMR 10.58 and can include Tannery Brook, Broad Brook, Green Brook, Paucatuck Brook, Bray Brook, Serendipity Brook, Barry Brook, and/or Whiting Brook.  There are no areas designated as densely developed in Holyoke. therefore all sections perennial streams that meet the definition established in 310 CMR 10.58 are subject to the Wetlands Protection Act.   The CT River riverfront from the Holyoke Dam south to Berkshire Street has been designated as an Historic Mill District.


What are the “DEP File Number” Signs that I see around Holyoke?

You may see signs at construction sites which have DEP File No. 186-xxx on them.  These signs indicate that the project has been approved by the Conservation Commission and DEP and an Order of Conditions has been issued.  186 indicates that the project is in Holyoke and the last 3 digits indicate the file number.   For a listing of recent applications, click here.

Water Chestnut Control Project-  Have you seen this plant?

The City of Holyoke Conservation Commission has been instrumental in coordinating control and removal of the 16-acre water chestnut infestation at Log Pond Cove on the Connecticut River since 1998.  The project is an example of the value of partnerships in achieving environmental goals.  In 2004, the project was presented at the 13th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Speciesin Ireland.

The 2008 control season was funded by grants from United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  The 2011 season was funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. .

What unique resources must be considered when planning development in Holyoke?

Several tracts of land in Holyoke have been designated by the Commonwealth of MA as Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance and Land of High Ecological IntegrityFor maps of these areas and additional information on permitting requirements in these areas,  please see the Mass CAPS website and DEP. (New as of June 2008)

The MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program is responsible for protection and conservation of rare and endangered plants and animals in the Commonwealth of MA.  Nearly 47% of Holyoke is designated as Priority Habitat for Rare Species or Estimated Habitat of Rare Wetlands Wildlife and is therefore subject to additional permitting by NHESP.    For additional information, use this link Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program

How can I learn more about beavers (Nature’s Engineers)?

Living with Wildlife- Beavers in Massachusetts

Citizen’s Guide to Beaver Permitting

Guidance for Conservation Commissions and Boards of Health .

Most Holyoke human-beaver conflicts have been successfully resolved by the installation of water flow devices- also known as “Beaver Deceivers”.  Read more about water flow devices.

Resolving Human-Beaver Conflicts- Water Flow Devices

MassWildlife offers additional resources including information on how Massachusetts law prohibits the dismantling or distubance of beaver dams and beaver lodges.  Note that wildlife in Massachusetts may not be trapped and relocated.

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