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Vernal Pool Certification
in Massachusetts

Vern says, 'Hey, I'm ready!'

On 3/01/09, the Guidelines for Vernal Pool
Certification in Massachusetts changed.
These pages reflect those changes.

NHESP Guidelines NHESP
(pdf download)

Procedure for certification Certification

Certification with obligate species Obligate
species method

Certification with facultative species Facultative
species method

Maps needed for certification Maps
Form needed for certification Observation

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Certification is the procedure by which citizens can document the existence of a vernal pool in Massachusetts. The documentation material is submitted to the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program which then certifies the vernal pool. When a vernal pool has been certified, it receives automatically any protection afforded to vernal pools under the Wetlands Protection Act. Go to FAQ's for discussion about vernal pool protection.

In Massachusetts, vernal pools are certified as "existing" by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program based on documentation by citizens. Documentation for vernal pool certification has three components: evidence, maps, and an observation form. Click on the links below for details and some suggestions you might find useful.

1) Obligate Species Method: You provide evidence of the vernal pool itself as well as evidence that the pool is used for breeding by obligate vernal pool species such as the wood frog, mole salamanders, or fairy shrimp
or Facultative Species Method: You provide evidence that the pool holds and water, that the pool becomes dry or is otherwise free of fish, and that certain facultative amphibians use the pool for breeding.

2) Maps: You provide required maps that precisely locate the vernal pool.

3) Observation Form: You complete and sign an observation form which documents your findings, pool characteristics, pool biodiversity, and the land owner of the pool. Completed materials are submitted to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program.