Environmental Consultant: “there are likely to be several hundred vernal pools in the City which could be certifyable”

As commissioned by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, New England Environmental, a consulting firm, just sent a report on vernal pools to Suzanne Beck. Suzanne is the executive director of the Chamber. Here are excerpts from Michael Marcus’s report, which assesses the vernal pool portion of Northampton’s proposed wetlands ordinance. The complete report is available as a PDF. We have added emphasis to certain sections below:

1. Summary of Ordinance Vernal Pool protection:

  • Central Business- Vernal Pool and within 100 feet

  • Business Park- Vernal Pool and within 100 feet

  • Water Supply Overlay- Vernal Pool and within 200 feet

  • All other areas- Vernal Pool and within 200 feet
Comments: Depending on the biology, some pools need more of a setback then others. For instance, mole salamanders breed in vernal pools, but spend most of their life underground with forested areas. The protection of sufficient forested habitat will be the key to protect these species…

a vernal pool in a wooded area which supports wood frogs may need to protect the surrounding forested habitat

According to the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commission database, there are at least 25 communities which protect Vernal Pools, and at least five communities which protect wetland resource areas greater than 100 feet…

…based on my knowledge of the wetlands within the City, and the number of vernal pools identified in other municipalities, there are likely to be several hundred vernal pools in the City which could be certifyable

…Under MESA, there may be rare vernal pool species which the State will require 500 or 600 feet of protection around a vernal pool.

Based on these observations, and the growing recognition of the value of vernal pools, we urge the city to conduct a detailed independent evaluation of the wetlands and forested areas in the area where Kohl Construction proposes to locate 31 condo units and their associated access roads and parking spaces. It is insufficient to rely on Kohl’s assertion that there are no existing or potential vernal pools on the development site.

See also:

Photo Essay: The Forest Behind View Avenue

Kohl’s Condo Proposal: Where Things Stand and What You Can Do
Kohl Construction proposes to build 31 condo units in the forest between North Street and the bike path. This development, with its access roads and 66 parking spaces, will claim 5.49 acres of land. These pictures show the area affected: