Keating Pledges to File Legislation Setting Monomoy Refuge Boundary

Chatham LighthouseCHATHAM – Chatham Selectman Seth Taylor and Town Manager Jill Goldsmith returned from Washington, D.C. Wednesday after meeting with federal representatives about clarifying the western boundary of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

Taylor said Congressman William Keating committed to filing legislation that re-affirms the submerged lands west of Monomoy as being under the historic control of the Commonwealth.

“I think that this is a huge piece of the puzzle, just the very act that Representative Keating would agree to file legislation seeking this resolution is just fabulous,” said Taylor.

Town officials have previously asked for legislation to fix the western boundary at the refuge at low water.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent conservation plan outlined that the western boundary encompasses around 3,000 acres of Nantucket Sound.

Although the agency ceded control of fishing and shell fishing in the area to the town and state, the plan acknowledges that the agency can step in at any time and regulate activities that could impact the refuge’s mission to protect shorebirds.

The town has called the plan an overreach of federal authority, considering that they have overseen resources in the waters west of Monomoy in the past.

The town has been pushing for a new federal law that would specify the low tide line as the western boundary and they have rejected plans to take the Fish and Wildlife Service to court because it was time consuming and cost too much.

“Clearly, we want to be in the position where the legislative solution would be a lot less expensive and a lot less trying than running through litigation,” said Taylor.

It’s the second time that Chatham officials have met with federal legislators in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Monomoy legislation.

Town officials traveled to the state house late last month to meet with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito to discuss the federal agency’s jurisdiction on the waters west of Monomoy.

In a statement from her office, Polito said that the “Baker-Polito Administration continues to be dedicated to working with municipalities and our federal partners to conserve the Commonwealth’s natural resources, while also promoting public access and supporting our recreational and commercial fishing industries”.

By JUSTIN SAUNDERS, CapeCod.com Newscenter

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