Chatham Officials Continuing Effort to Resolve Monomoy Dispute

CHATHAM – Officials in Chatham are continuing to work towards a solution to the boundary dispute with U.S. Fish and Wildlife over the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

Legislation filed by Congressman Bill Keating earlier this year would return control of 4,000 acres of submerged lands and waters to the town and the state which was taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year when it approved a new 15-year management plan.

“We are just trying to keep people aware that that legislation is still pending and asking folks to write to their Congressional representatives voicing their support for that legislation just to kind of keep things moving in Washington,” said Robert Duncanson, Chatham’s director of health and natural resources.

In April, Keating and Chatham officials testified in a hearing before the House Federal Lands Subcommittee.

“We want to make sure that they continue to move this legislation along and hopefully it gets voted out by the subcommittee and then works its way to the full House as well,” Duncanson said.

After a change of make-up to Chatham’s Board of Selectmen, Selectmen Jeffrey Dykens and Shareen Davis will manage the town’s campaign, according to a press release issued by Town Manager Jill Goldsmith.

The town has worked closely with elected officials in the state, including Provincetown State Representative Sarah Peake and Governor Charlie Baker’s Washington office.

Duncanson is also encouraging residents write the Governor expressing their support for the legislation.

“We’re hoping Governor Baker, being a Republican, will be able to have some influence in Washington in terms of getting this thing moving and fully adopted,” Duncanson said.

The town has also invited Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), the chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), the Federal Lands Subcommittee chairman, to visit Chatham and the refuge to witness the commitments the town has made to ensuring public access and the proper management of the areas resources.

The press realease issued by the town which includes contact information for local representatives, the governor and appropriate subcommittees can be found at the town’s website here.

Getting legislation passed is the best option for resolving the dispute but the town and state are still leaving litigation open as an option.

The town has been working closely with Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office, which has notified the Fish and Wildlife Service that it may file a lawsuit on the matter before federal court.

“The state has several years before they actually have to bring the lawsuit but that is definitely something in the works potentially behind the scenes if the legislative route doesn’t come to fruition, but we hope to avoid that,” Duncanson said.

An administrative option seems much less likely as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is without a director.

The town, state and the Fish and Wildlife Service could not reach a Memorandum of Understanding last year for fishery management in the area until ownership of the disputed lands could be determined.

Since 1944 the waters have been owned by Massachusetts and have been managed by Chatham in cooperation with the state.


About NewsCenter

The award-winning NewsCenter provides the Cape Cod community with a constant, credible source for local news. We are on the job seven days a week.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy