Wetland Resources

Through the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, the Ashland Conservation Commission has jurisdiction over any activity within 100 feet of a wetland resource area or 200 feet from any perennial stream.

Streams & Rivers
The major perennial, or year-round, streams in Ashland include (but are not limited to):
  • Sudbury River
  • Beaverdam Brook
  • Cold Spring Brook
  • Indian Brook
There are numerous smaller intermittent streams that feed into these water bodies or other wetlands around Town.

Riverfront Area
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.

Lakes & Ponds
Ashland has numerous smaller ponds, as well as 3 large bodies of water:
  • Ashland Reservoir
  • Hopkinton Reservoir
  • Waushakum Pond
Banks & Beaches
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 variation. Bank provides critical habitat for such native animals as mink and river otter.

The 100-Year Floodplain
The 100-Year Floodplain is the area affected when water rises after a storm of a magnitude that occurs, on average, only once every 100 years. The 100-Year Floodplain does not flood only once every 100 years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency publishes official maps that show where these floodplains are. These maps are available online and at Town Hall. The Floodplain does not have a Buffer Zone around it.

Isolated Land Subject to Flooding
Isolated Land Subject to Flooding (ILSF) is any land that holds about 11,000 cubic feet of water at least once a year, or an average of 6 inches of water over 22,000 square feet (a little more than half an acre). The ILSF does not have a Buffer Zone around it.

Bordering Vegetated Wetlands
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 Ashland 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
Wet Meadows are comprised primarily of grasses, rushes and sedges.

Vernal Pools
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.