The Saugus Conservation Commission

298 Central Street
Saugus, Massachusetts 01906

How do I know what is a wetland?

Some wetlands are easy to identify. A pond is not land, but it is wet, and so it is a wetland. So is a vernal pool -- a low place that fills with water in the spring but is dry at the surface through the rest of the seasons. So is land overgrown with the kind of plants we commonly find on wet ground -- cattails, for instance. Sometimes wetlands are defined by their hydrology or soils. More often, they are defined by their plant communities: where species that commonly occur in wetland are in the majority, that place is most likely a wetland. Red maple is one indicator. Other wetland plants common in Saugus are these:

To find out whether a particular site is classified as a wetland, you can get help from the Conservation Commission. A representative of the Commission should be able to help you determine which areas are wetlands and advise you on how to proceed.

[floodplain diagram]

Sometimes the identification of affected land becomes technical. Land that may appear to be dry may, in fact, be in a floodplain. When a peak storm arrives, that land may be under water. Floodplains are identified by elevation. Saugus maintains a set of floodplain maps; these can help you locate places on your property that may be subject to flooding. The Engineering Department can help you read them. For an exact determination, a survey prepared by a licensed land surveyor is required.