Welcome to the Great Ponds Coalition
On May 12, 2015, the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a hearing on H.753, a bill that would transfer private land to the Commonwealth, reversing centuries of settled property right law and costing the state and local communities untold millions of dollars.
This bill has been filed several times before in the Massachusetts Legislature (previously as Bill H.254 and Bill H.804). After reviewing the enormous consequences for the Commonwealth, lawmakers have failed to pass the measure.
The bill would transfer private barrier beach property that due to storms or erosion has shifted onto the bottom of the Great Ponds (any pond or lake of more than 10 acres) to public ownership.
While at first glance the bill may appear to have a public benefit – create new public beaches – in fact nearly all these barrier beaches are not accessible, and therefore there would be no real benefit to the public.
The public’s only role in this would be to reimburse private landowners for the land takings – an unimaginable expense for a state grappling with budget constraints.
We invite you to learn more about the Great Ponds land taking bill and join our campaign to halt this disastrous legislation.
For more information, call 617-523-0038.
Formed in 2011, The Great Ponds Coalition (GPC) comprises a group of private pondside landowners in Massachusetts, originally assembled in response to legislation that threatened to transfer private property to public ownership. Since then, Coalition members have maintained the organization as an important source of information regarding conservation and ownership of great pond shorelines and adjacent lands.
Debate over public access through the shorelines of privately-owned and ecologically sensitive coastal great ponds continues, despite the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision upholding private ownership rights in 1990. Consideration of legislation that would reverse the court’s decision is a perennial filing at the State House. In successive legislative sessions, the GPC has helped prevent passage of bills that would have rolled back the rights of private property owners who for centuries have carefully stewarded the delicate ecology that exists in the unique lands between great ponds and the ocean.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) defines a great pond as any pond or lake that contained more than ten acres in its natural state – even if those ponds are now smaller than ten acres. More than 300 great ponds dot the landscape of the Commonwealth’s eight coastal counties. Wildlife species common to this habitat include osprey, waterfowl, shorebirds, crustaceans, fish, shellfish, and many species of plants and insects. Click here for MassDEP’s Massachusetts Great Ponds List.
For more information, or to get involved by joining GPC and contributing to our efforts, click here.