MassDEP Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance
Overview of CAPS MassDEP Data
MassDEP’s Massachusetts Wildlife Habitat Protection Guidance for Inland Wetlands (June 2006) adopted a new approach for assessing wildlife habitat impacts associated with work in wetlands. This approach utilizes maps developed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst using the Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS). The maps depict “Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance” that may trigger more intensive review under the MA Wetlands Protection Act. For more information on how to assess wildlife habitat impacts, see Section III of the MassDEP guidance document.
These maps are available as high-resolution PDFs for each town and city, as well as via a web viewer, below. They are based on the integrated index of ecological integrity and depict all areas (not just regulated “resource areas”) that score in the top 40% for IEI-I. Areas so designated as “Habitat of Potential Regional and Statewide Importance” represent 40% of the undeveloped landscape as well as 40% of each ecological community (e.g. forest, shallow marsh, shrub swamp, forested wetland, salt marsh). Areas within the polygons that are also within Wetland Protection Act jurisdiction represent "Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance" and may trigger detailed review of potential wildlife impacts of proposed projects (See Section III of the MassDEP guidance document.
“Habitat of Potential Regional and Statewide Importance” data are also available for download as a geoTIFF file. GeoTIFFs can be viewed in most image viewers and browsers as well as with GIS software. The report “Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS) Statewide Massachusetts Assessment: December 2020” provides information about CAPS and the 2020 CAPS analysis. [CAPS 2020 Report].
Maps depicting Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance are available as high resolution PDFs for all communities in Massachusetts, plus a single map (geoTIFF) encompassing the entire state. Each map depicts important habitat overlaid onto USGS topographic maps; this helps provide geographical references for important habitat polygons. File sizes are large (2-6 Mb) and download times will be long unless you have a high-speed internet connection.
The habitat maps provided here were specially created to meet MassDEP specifications to support regulatory review under the Wetlands Protection Act. Additional results of CAPS assessments suitable for a wide range of conservation planning activities in Massachusetts are also available [click here for Mass IEI maps]
The maps now posted on this web site are the most current versions available and were last updated in January 2024.
CAPS GIS data including DEP habitat maps for Massachusetts and IEI (at four scales), metrics (raw and scaled) and ecological settings variables are available as ArcGIS grids and geoTIFFs. [CAPS 2020 Data].
These maps are funded in part by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under section 104 (b)(3) of the U.S. Clean Water Act. Environmental data sources include the Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS). UMass is partnering with MassDEP to provide the results of CAPS analysis as part of a new approach to wildlife habitat management via assessment and mapping of important wildlife habitat for use in wetland protection review.
For assistance with interpretation of CAPS results or to report technical difficulties regarding access to the information on this page, please contact Scott Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)