Boston Harbor Ecosystem Network

MassBays logoThe Boston Harbor Ecosystem Network (formerly Boston Harbor Habitat Coalition) is comprised of individuals and organizations with interest in protecting, restoring, and educating the public about estuarine resources within the Metro Boston region the MassBays National Estuary Program. You can read more about Metro Boston area watersheds and habitats here.

Initiated in 2011 as the Boston Harbor Habitat Coalition, it changed its name in 2016 to reflect the interests and priorities of participating stakeholders. Participants may be unaffiliated individuals or may represent local, state, and federal agencies, watershed and community groups, academic institutions, informal science education centers, the private sector, and citizen science efforts. All are welcome to attend and participate in BHEN meetings and events.

The BHEN meets twice a year to learn about and discuss Network and other related projects, to network with others, and to learn from experts and practitioners about best practices in estuary health and management. To subscribe to the BHEN e-newsletter, click here. You can also follow it on Facebook.

Metro Boston Watersheds and Habitats

According to the Massachusetts Bays Program Estuary Delineation and Assessment Report (Geosyntec, 2017), there are eight watersheds delineated in the MassBays Metro Boston region, which stretches from Revere to Hull.  They are:

  • 2014-12-04 13.48.11Saugus River/Pines River/Lynn Harbor
  • Belle Isle Creek/Winthrop Bay
  • Chelsea Creek/Mystic River/Charles River/Boston Inner Harbor
  • Neponset River/Dorchester Bay
  • Blacks Creek/Quincy Bay
  • Back River/Fore River/Hingham Bay
  • Weir River/Straits Pond
  • Boston Harbor

The Boston Harbor Habitat Atlas characterizes seven core habitats for the region: intertidal flats, nearshore submerged, rocky intertidal, salt marsh, seagrass beds, shellfish beds, and diadromous fish.  A summary of each, as well as the condition, extent, and protection/restoration activities in each, are presented in the Boston Harbor Habitat Atlas, an interactive online mapping tool developed in 2011.  Access to relevant Metro Boston layers for these habitats are accessible via the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS), which is produced by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

A number of factors are negatively impacting these habitats, many of which are human-induced and directly related to the urbanized nature of the region. Some of these stressors are high intensity land use, extent of impervious cover, stormwater and wastewater discharges, tidal restrictions, barriers to fish passage, arrival and spread of invasive species, and extreme weather events.