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Beavers are increasing in population across the state. They are an important feature of the environment but we also understand the problems their damming habits can sometimes bring to homeowners and the community.
Read through: Beavers and the Law: A Citizen's Guide to Addressing Beaver Conflicts.
Please note that the Town of Upton can only take action if the problem occurs on or affects municipal properties or roads.
Private property owners are responsible for resolving beaver issues on their own land (see specific guidelines for private property below). Unless an emergency order is issued, wetlands regulations must be adhered to.
Call the Conservation Commission office 508-529-6286 if you need advice about a beaver problem.
View the Procedure to Review Resident Beaver Complaints (PDF).
Specific guidelines for beaver control on private property:
The Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act was adopted by the Massachusetts Legislature in the early 1960s out of concern for the degradation and loss of wetlands. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Wetlands Program ensures the protection of Massachusetts' inland and coastal wetlands, tidelands, great ponds, rivers and floodplains. It regulates activities in coastal and wetlands areas, and contributes to the protection of ground and surface water quality, the prevention of flooding and storm damage and the protection of wildlife and aquatic habitat.
For more information:
You can do many things:
If you have an underground storage tank for home heating oil, have it tested to ensure it is not leaking through the soil and into the groundwater. Visit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website for additional tips on avoiding a heating oil leak or spill.
If you have a spill of oil or other hazardous material call the Upton Fire Department 508-529-3421 and the Conservation Commission 508-529-6286 immediately. The DEP website gives a complete guide to the cleanup process.
In 1996 the MA DEP issued this policy to establish clear and consistent guidelines for stormwater management across the state. The standards of this policy, enforced by the Conservation Commission, are intended to prevent untreated discharges to wetlands and waters; preserve hydrologic conditions that closely resemble pre-development conditions; reduce or prevent flooding by managing the peak discharge and volumes of runoff; minimize erosion and sedimentation; reduce suspended solids and other pollutants to improve water quality; and provide increased protection of sensitive natural resources.
Localities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are required to comply with a number of both State and Federal laws, regulations, and permits which require a locality to address the impacts of development and post-development stormwater runoff quality and non-point source pollution.
Upton developed a Stormwater Management Bylaw which was approved at the Annual Town Meeting in May of 2012. The Town of Upton has adopted this stormwater management bylaw to eliminate non-stormwater discharges to the Town's stormwater management system, and to provide reasonable guidance for the regulation of development and post-development stormwater runoff for the purpose of protecting local water resources from degradation. This bylaw prohibits the discharges of illicit materials to the Town's stormwater management system and requires the removal of all such illicit connections.
The purpose of this bylaw is to protect, maintain and enhance the public health, safety, environment, and general welfare by establishing minimum requirements and procedures to control the adverse effects of development stormwater runoff and non-point source pollution associated with development.
Flood zones are geographic areas defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) according to varying levels of flood risk.
These zones are depicted on a community's Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Each zone reflects the severity or type of flooding in the area.
Land areas that are at high risk for flooding are called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). A home located within an SFHA has a 26% chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage and only a 4% chance of suffering a fire over that same time.
To find out if your home is in a flood zone visit the FloodSmart website.
The Upton floodplain districts were determined from elevations along stream corridors with reference to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Markers.
According to the Upton Zoning Code Bylaw "No building permit shall be issued for any structure and no other permit shall be issued for any purpose … located within an area designated as Floodplain District on a map entitled 'Floodplain Zoning Map, Revised May 1, 1980'. "
Call the Upton Planning Board 508-529-1008 or the Conservation Commission 508-529-6286 if you have questions about the location of floodplains.
If you have a dangerous tree in the No-Disturb area that is threatening to come down on your property call the Conservation Commission 508-529-6286 immediately. We will come out to assess the situation and issue an Emergency Certificate (if appropriate) for the earliest removal of the tree.
Not if you are working outside the 100-foot wetland buffer zone and 200-foot river protection buffer zone.
If you plan to work within 50-foot of a resource area be aware that the Upton Wetland Protection Regulations stipulate that a 50-foot No-Cut - No-Disturb zone must be maintained from the edge of a resource area.
This means that trees and other forms of vegetation may not be cut within the 50-foot zone.
The trees, shrubs and native plants around the wetland edge provide a filtering zone, soaking up the run-off from lawns, roads, roofs, and driveways that may contaminate the wetland water with chemicals, fertilizers, oils, heavy metals, salts or solvents. When you remember that these areas feed our drinking water you'll understand how essential this No-Disturb buffer is in protecting the quality and health of our groundwater supplies.
Tree cutting and brush removal within the 50-foot to 100-foot zone must be carried out with approval from the Conservation Commission. Call the Conservation Commission office for assistance.
Remember that street trees are under the jurisdiction of the Upton Tree Warden. Please call the Tree Warden at 508-529-3067 if you have questions about street trees.
A wetland delineation is typically prepared by a private consultant that a landowner hires. Upton's Conservation Agent and members of the Conservation Commission are not available to do wetland delineations.
Make sure that you inspect the property during the wettest time of the year. Ensure that the property is suitable to whatever your potential plans may be. One could ask the seller to produce an approved wetland delineation prior to closing on the property. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps and aerial photos could be reviewed.
Contact the Upton Conservation Commission office 508-529-6286. We can give you an initial "birds-eye" appraisal of the resource areas on your property and advise you on how to proceed with a proposed project.
Vernal (meaning Spring) pools, also known as ephemeral pools, are unique wildlife habitats, which have become an increasingly rare type of wetland in Massachusetts. Due to their sensitivity, vernal pools and the surrounding areas are protected under the MA Wetlands Protection Act, as well as the Upton Wetlands Protection Bylaw. Vernal pools provide critical habitat for amphibians and invertebrate animals, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), and spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata). A vernal pool is a confined basin that typically fills with water in the autumn or winter due to rising groundwater and rainfall. The water remains ponded throughout the spring, until the water dries up in the summer months. Many amphibians and invertebrate species rely on vernal pools for their breeding, feeding, and shelter purposes.
For that reason, vernal pools are essential for the continued survival of the wildlife species that are dependent upon this rare and threatened resource area.
If your project includes grading, landscaping and/or construction work within the 100' wetland buffer zone (or 200' river protection buffer) call the Conservation Commission office to determine what type of permit you may need for the work you are planning.
According to the Upton Wetland Protection Bylaw the following activities are judged to "alter" a resource area and must be brought to the Commission before work can commence:
"The term "alter" shall include, without limitation, the following activities when undertaken to, upon, within or affecting resource areas protected by this bylaw:
A buffer zone is an undeveloped area directly adjacent to a body of water. Buffer zones include aquatic plants in shallow water, moisture-loving plants along the shore, and upland plants in dry soils.
In Massachusetts the buffer zone extends 100-feet horizontally outward from the boundary of any resource area and 200 horizontal linear feet outward from the boundary of any river or perennial stream. This area is subject to protection under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) 131, Section 40) and its Regulations (310 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 10 - 10.60), and the Upton Wetlands Protection Bylaw and its Regulations.
The primary purposes of buffer zones are to:
The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) identifies eight public interests that wetlands serve.
This includes all land within 200 feet of the bank of any perennial stream. There are specific performance standards for work within the Riverfront Area. The Riverfront Area does not have a Buffer Zone around it.
Upton has numerous smaller ponds, as well as three large bodies of water:
A bank or beach is the place where water meets land for any waterbody whether a pond, lake, stream or river. (Note: a bank is sometimes different from the edge of the water, especially if the water rises and falls frequently due to seasonal or other variations). Bank provides critical habitat for such native animals as mink and river otter.
The 100-year Floodplain is the area affected when water rises after a storm of a magnitude that occurs, on average, only once every hundred years. The 100-year Floodplain does not flood only once every one hundred years.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency publishes official maps that show where these floodplains are. The Floodplain does not have a Buffer Zone around it.
Isolated Land Subject to Flooding is any land that holds about 11,000 cubic feet of water at least once a year, or an average of six inches of water over 22,000 square feet (a little more than half an acre). Isolated Land Subject to Flooding does not have a Buffer Zone around it.
Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (BVW) include any marsh, swamp, wet meadow, or bog that border on a stream or pond. Each kind of wetland has different characteristics, and according to the Wetlands Protection Act are defined by the plant communities they support.
Swamps are thickly wooded wetlands. Most swamps in Upton are Wooded Deciduous Swamps that have mostly Red (Swamp) Maples and other water-loving trees. There are also shrub swamps throughout the town.
Marshes, both deep and shallow, support cat tails and reeds.
Wet Meadows are comprised primarily of grasses, rushes and sedges.
Vernal pools are temporary bodies of fresh water that provide critical habitat for many vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife species. Vernal pools do not support fish (usually because they dry out annually or periodically). Some may contain water year-round but are free of fish.
Vernal pools provide unique habitat for a variety of forest and wetland organisms, some of which depend on this pool habitat for their survival. "Obligate" vernal pool species, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), mole salamanders (Ambystoma sp.) and fairy shrimp (Order Anostraca) will only breed in vernal pools and therefore are dependent on this critical habitat. "Facultative" species, such as certain amphibians and reptiles along with several kinds of aquatic invertebrates, often exploit the fish-free waters of vernal pools but do not depend on them.
Wetlands are areas that are either permanently or seasonally wet, and the soil and the plant community has adapted to that water. Many types of wetlands exist, each with a community of plants adapted to specific conditions that are determined by the hydrology (the source, quantity, and quality of the water supply), and the underlying soil chemistry.
Some wetlands, such as fens or sedge meadows, may be fed by subsurface or surfacing groundwater. Others, such as a floodplain forest, are periodically flooded by overflowing rivers or streams. Still others, such as bogs or vernal pools, capture rainwater in depressions or basins on the land. Marshes are areas with plants that normally grow in relatively shallow water, while a swamp is much like a marsh that is forested.