Swans at Horn Pond Conservation Area in Woburn


The Conservation Commission is concerned with the acquisition and preservation of existing open space, and with the protection of our natural resources and wetlands.


Function of the Commission

The Commission administers the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Ch 131, Sec.40), the Woburn Wetlands Ordinance (Title VII), and the state and local wetlands regulations.

It has the authority to regulate activities within wetlands, riverfront  (land within 200 feet of a river), and the buffer zone of land that is within 150 feet of a wetland. The Commission holds Public Hearings, conducts site visits, and issues permits.

The Conservation Commission supports the acquisition and preservation of open space and is concerned with the protection of our natural resources; wetlands in particular. The Commission organizes Conservation Day and runs the Community Gardens Program. The Commission has promoted the planting of trees in the City through its Tree Program.



Meeting notices are posted in City Hall at least 48 hours prior to Public Meetings. Check the online calendar or contact the Conservation Department office for the dates of upcoming meetings. 

Hearings Rescheduled Pursuant to Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020.


Department Location

The Conservation Department office is located in the lower level of City Hall:

Woburn Conservation Commission
City Hall – 10 Common Street
Woburn, MA  01801


Department Head

The Conservation Commission has a professional Conservation Administrator.  The Conservation Administrator is available to the general public, attorneys, developers, engineers, and others as an informational resource to answer questions about wetland issues, the public hearing process, and filing procedures.  The Conservation Administrator coordinates with other City Departments as well as state and federal agencies.

The Conservation Administrator assists the Commission in administering the Wetlands Protection Act and the Woburn   Wetlands Ordinance.  The Administrator reviews applications and plans for completeness and compliance with wetlands laws and regulations, ensures filing fees are submitted and calculated correctly, performs site inspections, makes recommendations to the Commission, drafts special conditions for the Commission’s consideration, and prepares legal documents for the Commission review, approval and issuance.  The Administrator attends training sessions and professional meetings.  The Administrator manages the Conservation office.

*Note: Due to limitations in staffing, the office may be closed at times during regular City Hall hours to allow the Conservation Administrator to do field work, site inspections, attend off-site meetings with contractors and/or other state and municipal officials, and to coordinate within City Hall with other City Departments. Appointments are strongly recommended.

Forms & Documents

Frequently Asked Questions

A wetland is an area where water (groundwater, surface water, or ice) is present in significant enough quantity to support a dominance of vegetation that occurs in primarily saturated conditions. Commonly thought of as wet meadows, marches, swamps and bogs, wetlands are transitional areas between water bodies and uplands, and are defined by their plant communities, hydrology and soils. Wetlands are areas that may be publicly or privately owned.
For a long time, wetlands have been dismissed as wasteland. Sadly, they have been used as dumping grounds, or filled in and channeled to “reclaim” them. Wetlands are now recognized as beautiful places with vital ecological functions and values. Wetlands play an important role in improving water quality and protecting water supply by filtering out pollutants, sediments and contaminants. Wetlands help to prevent storm and storm water damage by storing and slowly releasing floodwaters to rivers and streams. This is beneficial because it allows water to have a place to go during heavy storm events other than flooding basements and roadways. Wetlands protect fisheries and important habitat to wildlife, providing breeding and nesting places, protective cover, food and water. Most rare animal species depend in some way on wetlands for survival.

An official copy can be obtained in person from DEP or at the state bookstore in Boston. An unofficial copy of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act can be found online at DEP’s website.

Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act 

Unofficial copies of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act Regulations 310 CMR 10.00, are available online from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. An official copy may be obtained from the state bookstore.

DEP Regulations Unofficial Copy

Forms are available from the Conservation Commission office. Forms are also available online.

Wetland Forms

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act identifies eight “interests” or functions and values of resource areas that are protected.They are:
1) Protection of public and private water supply
2) Protection of groundwater supply
3) Flood control
4) Storm damage prevention
5) Prevention of pollution
6) Protection of land containing shellfish
7) Protection of fisheries
8) Protection of wildlife habitat
Protected wetlands values identified in the Woburn Wetlands Ordinance are:
1) Public or private water supply
2) Groundwater
3) Flood control
4) Erosion and sediment control
5) Storm damage prevention
6) Fisheries
7) Recreation
8) Agriculture
9) Aquaculture
10) Historic Values
The Woburn Conservation Commission has jurisdiction over all earthwork proposed within a resource area and/or the 150-foot buffer zone.
A resource area is an area subject to protection by the Conservation Commission. In Woburn they are inland areas which include:Banks; Land Under Water Bodies or Waterways; Bordering Vegetated Wetlands; and Riverfront Areas
The Woburn Conservation Commission recognizes two buffer zones. The “state” buffer zone is the area within 100 feet of bank and/or bordering vegetated wetland. The “local” buffer zone is the area within 150 feet of bank and/or bordering vegetated wetland.

A river is any natural flowing body of water that empties into any ocean, lake, or other river and that flows throughout the year. The definition includes all perennial rivers, including streams and brooks that flow throughout the year. Rivers end where they meet the ocean, a lake, or pond. Intermittent streams are not subject to the Rivers Protection Act.

Explanation of the Rivers Protection Act

In Woburn, the riverfront area is the area between the river’s mean annual high-water line and a parallel line located 200 feet away measured horizontally outward from the river.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)is a state agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment. DEP’s Wetlands Program administers and enforces the Wetlands Protection Act.

Massachusetts DEP website 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency whose stated mission is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment – air, water, and land – upon which life depends.

EPA’s Office of Water is responsible for the Agency’s water quality activities including the development of national programs, technical policies, and regulations related to drinking water, water quality, ground water, pollution source standards, and the protection of wetlands, marine, and estuarine areas.

EPA website

Yes. The Applicant is required to notify (by mail or in person) immediate abutters when a submission is made to the Conservation Commission that requires a Public Hearing.
No. Since wetlands change over time, a wetlands map would need to be continually re-assessed and revised. The City does have topographic mapping, aerial photographs, and floodplain maps, which can be useful tools in making a general determination of the possible presence of wetlands. To make a determination of the precise boundaries of a wetland, the area in question would need to be flagged by a botanist or wetland scientist. The wetland delineation should be surveyed onto a plan. The Conservation Commission will make a formal determination through a Public Hearing process after the plan and appropriate forms have been filed with the Commission.
For new filings –
The filing deadline is 12:00 Noon, ten business days prior to the meeting.For Continued Public Hearings –
The deadline to submit additional information is 12:00 Noon, five business days prior to the date to which the Hearing is continued.
Unless otherwise posted, Conservation Commission Meetings are held in the City Council Chamber at City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.
The Engineering Department in City Hall has the groundwater protection district map, and can provide copies for a fee.
Federal floodplain maps (June 4, 2010) are on display at City Hall (outside the Conservation Commission office). Federal floodplain maps are available for purchase by contacting FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) at (617) 223-9561. These maps are generally used for flood insurance purposes. These maps indicate the areas of possible inundation during 100 and 500-year storm events. The City of Woburn also has a Local Floodplain Map (June 4, 2010) which includes some areas known to flood that were not covered in the FEMA study. Areas of flooding shown are limited to specific areas studied, so there may be areas that experience flooding which are not shaded on the maps. A Professional Land Surveyor and/or Professional Engineer can make a precise determination.
No. The City of Woburn has an Ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild waterfowl. Feeding wild animals is harmful to them and to humans. Feeding wild waterfowl can spread disease, and contaminate water supplies. For more information, ask for the brochure “Please Do Not Feed Wild Ducks, Geese, and Swans” which is available from the Conservation Commission office.
Many people use the terms “conservation land” and “wetlands” interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings.
Conservation land refers to land that is publicly owned, and generally preserved as open space to protect our natural resources. In some cases conservation land may be used for passive recreation, or it may be kept natural to protect wildlife habitat, wetlands, riverfront areas and/or land subject to flooding. Conservation land may or may not contain wetlands.
A wetland is an area that may be publicly or privately owned. It is an area where water (groundwater, surface water, or ice) is present in significant enough quantity to support a dominance of vegetation that occurs in primarily saturated conditions. Commonly thought of as wet meadows, marshes, swamps, and bogs; wetlands are transitional areas between water bodies and uplands, and are defined by their plant communities, hydrology, and soils.
Woburn’s main conservation lands with passive recreation are: the Horn Pond Area, Shaker Glen Conservation Area, Rag Rock Conservation Area, Battle Road Woodlands, and the Cranberry Bog Conservation Area. Maps of the City showing the location of Conservation Areas, and trail maps for some areas are available from the Conservation Commission office.
Rules for the use of Conservation Areas are stated in title 12-40 of the municipal code. They can be found at the following link: Rules for the use of Conservation Areas
The Community Gardens are located at the Horn Pond Conservation Area. They are accessible from a gravel roadway off Lexington Street. Limited parking is available by permit (issued to gardeners only).
First preference is given to returning gardeners who rented a garden plot the previous year. Garden sign-ups are held in the spring. Garden plots may be available after the initial registration period through the Conservation Commission office. Returning gardeners will be notified of the registration date(s) by mail. If you are interested in becoming a new gardener, mail a postcard with your name address and telephone number to the Conservation Commission office (Attn.: Community Gardens).
A copy of Rules for the Community Gardens will be available at the garden plot registration. A copy of the rules will be given to all gardeners who are assigned a plot.
Conservation Day is an annual community event organized and run by the Commission at various Conservation lands in the City. Each Conservation Day, the Conservation Commission, Department of Public Works, City Officials, local business organizations, service clubs, scout troops, students and scores of volunteers come together to work on projects and clean up the Conservation Areas. In past years projects have included: building and repairing bridges, clearing trails, spreading and raking woodchips, planting and pruning trees, painting signs, gates, and bridges, and general cleanup removing trash and debris. Conservation Day is held on the first Saturday in May. All are welcome to join us.
For a long time, there was a belief that because there was such an abundance of natural resources, the supply would never run out. We are discovering, however, that there is not an endless supply of resources. We have to face the reality of possible shortages in our lifetime and the lifetime of our children. But beyond the problem of shortages, the depletion of our natural resources has also caused other problems. The over-exploitation of our natural resources has led to the destruction of habitat, the extinction and threatened extinction of species of flora and fauna, and the pollution of our air, soils, and water. Sadly, our continent has lost much of its natural wealth and ecological stability.By conserving our natural resources, we are preserving our world not only for ourselves, but also for our children. The first step is to realize the importance of our environment. It is easy to take for granted the delicate ecosystems that make life on our planet possible. This is true both globally and locally. The Conservation Commission recognizes our wetlands and waterways, in particular, as a very precious resource, for without them life cannot persist.
• Teach your children to value and protect the environment.
• If possible, leave some of your land in a natural condition. Avoid disturbing steep slopes and stripping vegetation.
• Minimize the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
• Limit the use of salt for ice-control, and consider using environmentally friendly ice-control products.
• Don’t dump debris (including landscaping debris) into a wetland or water body.
• Set up a compost pile away from wetland areas.
• Never dump oil, chemicals or waste of any kind down a storm drain.
• Don’t litter.
• Pick up after your pets.
• Participate in Woburn’s recycling program.
• Conserve energy by turning of lights and appliances when they are not needed, and use energy efficient products. Look for products with the EPA’s Energy Star.
• Conserve water by turning off water faucets when not in use. Hire a plumber to fix leaky faucets, and inquire about installing water saving devices.
• Plant trees.
• Volunteer at Conservation Day.

Board Members

Duane P. Cleak, Chairman

John J. Tancredi, Jr., Vice Chairman

Pauline S. Keane, Member

Gerald T. Lohnes, Member

Stephen M. Malone, Member

Kevin C. Meaney, Member


Theresa Murphy

Conservation Administrator

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