Chatham Selectmen Continuing Monomoy Fight with Letter to Sen. Markey

CHATHAM – Selectmen in Chatham are now focusing efforts on the U.S. Senate in the western boundary dispute of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took control of more than 3,000 acres of water and submerged lands as part of its new refuge management plan approved in 2016. The area had previously been under state and town jurisdiction for more than 70 years and is used for fishing and recreation.

Selectmen voted to send a letter to Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass) to dispute claims in another letter sent by several conservation groups that a bill moving through the house to restore local management would lead to reduced protection of federal land.

“We kind of just indicated to him why we thought it was really inappropriate to be sending that letter at this point in time and the fact that they are not really doing appropriate due diligence on the bill,” said Robert Duncanson, the town’s natural resources director.

The bill filed by Massachusetts 9th District Congressman William Keating (D-Bourne), which would restore control of the land to the state and the town, was recently approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources and now goes before the full House for review.

The letter sent to Markey by the conservation groups was identical to one they previously sent about a year ago to members of the state’s Congressional delegation.

“We think that was done because H.R.1157 has been favorably reported out of the House committee and hopefully will be scheduled for a full vote on the House floor with what we expect to be an affirmative vote,” Duncanson said.

“So we think the environmental organizations have given up on the House now and are trying to move over to the Senate.”

In addition to a legislative path, Chatham is also pursuing a potential agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office continues to look into the possibility of suing the federal government over the matter. The Baker Administration has also signaled support for Chatham in the dispute.

Town officials have made multiple trips to Washington in recent months to lobby federal representatives over the dispute.

The bill, the town says, would eliminate the need to sue the federal government over the boundary.

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