Dennis natural resources, physical development, and social structure create unique problems and opportunities for open space/conservation and recreation planning. This section examines how these features influence policy.

A. Geology, Soils, and Topography

“[The rough hill of Scargo] is the highest land in the county, and is the first made by seamen approaching the south shore.”

– –Massachusetts Historical Society, A Description of Dennis, 1802.

“The soil in some portions of the north part of the township is quite productive; the south side is more sandy and light, and yields moderately.”

– – Freeman’s History of Cape Cod, 1862

“The landscape of Devil’s Beach on the north side of Dennis is the closest thing we have to a natural rocky coast on Cape Cod. Here the jumbled legacy of the Pleistocene glacier has studded the bluff with unusually concentrated deposits of large erratic boulders, some of them over 10 feet high. Over the centuries the modest but persistent waves and currents of the Bay have ripped open these bluffs like giant bags of marbles and spilled the rocks over a mile-long stretch or more. They are most dense in front of the bluffs of the old Stone Mansion, where they cover the sands nearly completely.”

– – Robert Finch, Soundings, 1998

1. Geology and Topography

a) Geologic and Topographic Resources

Dennis three distinct physiographic regions and its major landscape features were formed during the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier about 15,000 years ago. Wind, wave and storm action has shaped dunes, beaches and other shoreline features, but Dennis is primarily characterized by its glacial past.

Eight percent of the town is underlain by kame deposits, which were soils laid down into still water by the glacier’s streams, more recently than the moraine deposits found farther west on the Cape. The kame area stretches along the south side of Route 6A from the commercial centers of Dennis Village and East Dennis. In effect, the Indian trail that became Route 6A was laid out along the northern toe of the kame slope. The kame hills include the town’s high spots (Scargo Hill 160 feet; Black Ball Hill 159 feet; and Hokum Rock 150 feet), steep slopes,


generally without the clays associated with moraines (See Map 4.A.1). No ponds and few wetlands exist in this arid, sloping kame deposit. Large boulders are strewn across the kame, including the legendary Hokum Rock, a large erratic boulder found near the town sandpit on the south side of Hokum Rock Road.23

The kame is Dennis’s most rugged landscape and originally its most beautiful. Residential development of the north side of Scargo Hill in the past 15 years has marred that sublime topography. Although many Cape Codders still believe that 160-foot high Scargo Hill is the Cape’s highest point, it is not even close. (Pine Hill in Bourne tops out at 307 feet. In fact, even the ocean bluff at Truro reaches 173 feet.) Nevertheless, Scargo Hill’s reputation rests on its sheer rise out of the blue depths of Scargo Lake, its visibility from heavily-travelled Route 6A and the observation tower on its summit that serves as a focal point.


Scargo Hill circa 1965                          Scargo Hill August 2007

Lands north of Route 6A comprise the second physiographic region, roughly 13 percent of the town. (See Map 4.A.1a). Glacial lake and lake bottom deposits are found inside the Cape Cod Bay shoreline. The high kame acted as a giant earth dam, causing a temporary lake to form, with silts and clays settling out as well as sands and gravel. The richest soils are found in this north part of town. Gently-rolling hills with slopes averaging six percent extend to dramatic sea cliffs and bluffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Extensive salt marshes and broad tidal flats fringe these glacial lake delta deposits. There are a few small, shallow ponds. West of Nobscusset Point, clays support nearly vertical sea cliffs rising directly from the beach 40 feet high and they are a dramatic visual resource.24 Many of the town’s former cranberry bogs were found in the “lake deposits” zone.

Most of the remainder of Dennis is composed of outwash plain deposits, sands and gravels sorted by meltwater running south off the glacier. The generally flat surface is pitted in places where blocks of ice became separated from the main mass of the glacier, were buried in

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Quivett Creek Salt Marsh                      Sesuit Creek Salt Marsh


Composite of maps acquired from Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management 2001

Composite of maps acquired from Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management 2001

Source: Composite of Maps acquired from the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program, 2001.

the drift and later melted, leaving steep sided depressions, known locally as kettle holes. The deeper depressions extend below the water table and now contain the town’s many ponds. Shallower depressions contained many of the town’s larger cranberry bogs. The land surface is very uniform throughout this third physiographic unit: no land above 50 feet high exists south of Route 6 and no land above 20 feet exists south of Route 28.

b) Erosion and Sedimentation

As noted in the earlier discussion, much of Dennis and Cape Cod was formed by the deposits left behind by the last ice age. The cape, essentially was formed by erosion and sedimentary deposits, and erosion and sedimentation continue to be important.

The Dennis coast line is subject to constant change due to normal erosion and sedimentation as well as significant storm events. Storm damage due to hurricanes can be drastic along the low-lying southern shoreline. A band of shore as much as 50 feet wide was removed during the 1944 hurricane.25

The graphic above was prepared by the town of Dennis for the Quivett Neck/Crowe’s Pasture District of Critical Planning Concern nomination in 2001. The area illustrates the northeasterly coastal area of Dennis between Sesuit Creek and Quivett Creek. The changes to this portion of the coastline are similar to that which has occurred in many sections of town. Shoreline change illustrates many areas where land mass eroded between 1844 and 1978, in some areas by as much as 5.76 feet per year.

Fighting against coast line change is a never ending battle. The Dennis Harbormaster’s Office and Barnstable County are continuously dredging town waterways and using the dredge material to replenish the town’s eroding beaches. The following provides a number of illustrations of the erosion and sedimentation problems facing the town. Without continuously maintaining the town’s waterways the Dennis coastline (as with all of Cape Cod for that matter) would look tremendously different from what people see when looking at maps of the peninsula.

The Dennis Harbormaster’s Office has identified the following locations that represent significant erosion and sedimentation problems that need on-going dredging:

1. Channel of Bass River (mouth)

2. Old Field Channel / south of Stage Island

3. Weir Creek

4. Uncle Freeman’s Landing

5. Ferry Street just south of Bass River Bridge

6. Bass River Park slip and channel area

7. Wrinkle Point Channel

8. Horsefoot Cove Landing

9. Aunt Julia’s Landing

10. Grand Cove Channel

11. Cove Road Bar

12. Little Cove Channel

13. Highbank Bar

14. Blue Rock Channel

15. Kelly’s Bay Channel north of Rt. #6 Bridge

16. Follin’s Pond Narrows

17. Swan River

18. Sesuit Harbor Outer Channel

19. Sesuit Harbor Inner Basin

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Bass River at Low Tide                         Swan River

A significant erosion event occurred during late June 2009 as this report was being finalized. The Nor’easter that sat off of the Massachusetts Coast during the last weeks of June sent heavy surf into the Barrier Beach portion of the Chapin Beach Dune system. The erosion that occurred during this storm event was significant, similar to erosion from storms which occurred in the 1970’s. As with the 1970’s event, the town will look towards beach and dune renourishment, and the planting of beach grasses to restore the dune system.

2. Soils

“The best land in Dennis lies on the bay…”

– -“A Description of Dennis, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1802.

a) Description

Different soils result from complex interactions among surficial geological forces, topography, climate, and plant and animal decomposition. The type, wetness and slope of soils often determine the suitability of land use development in a community. Soils affect drainage, erosion, sedimentation, agriculture, vegetation, wildlife habitat, sewage disposal, and suitability of concrete foundations. In Dennis, particular concern should be given to uses of soil that are easily eroded, excessively or poorly drained, unstable or ecologically-important. The US Soil Conservation Service (now, the Natural Resources Conservation Service) classifies soils by type and five general associations are found in Dennis (Map 4.A.2).

Carver and Eastchop series: These sands (Carver being coarser than Eastchop) comprise about 49 percent of the town’s area (6,850 acres) typically, within the outwash plain south of Setucket Road. These droughty, nutrient-poor soils are usually found on level or gently sloping land. Carver and Eastchop soils have few limitations for development, but ironically, the ready permeability of the soils allow potential contaminants to reach the water table. A common complaint of Cape Cod health officials is that sandy soils are unsuitable for development of septic systems because they percolate too quickly rather than too slowly. Viruses and nitrogenous compounds from wastewater, then, can easily reach the aquifer before soil adsorption can occur. Lawns and athletic fields may also be difficult to establish and maintain owing to the droughty nature of the soils.

Another upland soil type is the Plymouth series. Primarily associated with the hilly kame areas north of Setucket Road and in pockets along the Northside, these droughty soils are very stony and boulder-strewn and comprise about 23 percent of the town’s area (3,221 acres). Steep slopes and exposed boulders and occasional clay layers can pose development issues. The large town sandpits on Hokum Rock Road are excavated in Plymouth soils.

An upland soil which comprises only three percent of the town’s area (416 acres), but which are important agricultural soils are the Deerfield – Belgrade – Walpole – Merrimac – Hinesburg – Boxford series, found primarily on the Northside, north of Route 6A, but also along the drainages of Swan Pond and Weir Creek on the Southside. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Northside locale coincides with the first colonial settlement in Dennis, where small farmsteads benefited from the relatively rich loamy sand. In fact, the settlers even gave a name to the vicinity, “Black Earth” (now memorialized in the name “Black Flats Road” behind Chapin Beach). The usefulness of this soil is seen today in the town’s public “U-pick” blueberry patch (Cross Patch) but commercial agriculture has essentially vanished from Dennis. The land is just too valuable for growing houses rather than crops. The largest swatches of prime agricultural soils that have not yet been developed underlie parts of Sesuit Neck and Quivett Neck. The undeveloped fields of the Fennell Estate on Sesuit Neck, for instance, is underlain by prime Belgrade soil.

Wetland soils include tidal marsh, dune sand and beach sand (11 per cent of town or 1,619 acres) and the peat, muck and sanded muck association of freshwater swamps, bogs and marshes (six percent or 798 acres) found scattered throughout the town.26

Even though most of Dennis was originally stabilized by vegetation, and a thin veneer of topsoil began to accumulate over it, supporting upland forests, the colonists soon stripped the timber from the woods and the topsoil blew away, leaving loose sand in many areas: “The lower road [from Yarmouth to Harwich]…is deep and heavy, and there is little on the sides of it to please the eye, the land appearing barren, and the wind having made great ravages on the hills…”27 Despite recovery in the visual sense, neither soils nor topography, with the exception of wetlands, has since proven to be an effective impediment to development. Retaining open space by relying on natural development constraints is not a realistic approach in Dennis.

b) Agricultural Resources

The farming community that was Dennis in the 18th and 19th centuries is long gone. Even remnants of that heritage are hard to find in town: a stone wall here and there marking an old pasture; a few gnarled apple trees of an abandoned orchard, and livestock barns that now shelter only automobiles. Nevertheless, there are still a few small working farms in Dennis, where the public can experience the rich tradition of Cape agriculture. Perhaps the most visible and well-known is the Tobey Farm on Route 6A near the Yarmouth town line. With an attractive farmstand neatly landscaped by the roadside, and with ever-changing products and offerings timed to the season, the Tobey Farm is at once a destination and an anchor for the Northside’s historical rural character. A small family enterprise, The Tree Farm, allows public cutting of Christmas trees on a couple of acres near Highbank Road. Hart Farm and Mike’s Organic Farm are two other traditional agricultural uses in Dennis.

The waterfront location of the town also promotes a different form of agriculture – aquaculture is a growing agricultural use in Dennis, making use of both private facilities in Dennis Village and public resources in East Dennis off of Crowe’s Pasture. Several aquaculturalists raise a variety of seafood for use by local restaurants and sale at local fish markets.

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Dennis Private Aquaculture Farm, Dennis Village     West Dennis Fish Weirs

The Town of Dennis has done a better job than most Cape towns in sponsoring public gardening. Eight towns on the Cape have town-operated community gardens,27A but Dennis hosts not one but two of them: the two-acre Shoop Memorial Gardens on Route 6A in East Dennis, located on 25 acres of town conservation land with nature trails, and the 2.67-acre Elizabeth Burr Garden in West Dennis. In addition, the town runs a popular public blueberry picking patch, called the Cross Patch, in Dennis Village.

In order to promote and protect the agricultural uses in town, Town Meeting created an Agricultural Commission at the May 2008 Annual Town Meeting. The same town meeting also recognized the town as a “Right to Farm” community.

B. Landscape Character

“The view [from the hills] has not much of the beautiful in it, but it communicates a strong emotion of the sublime.”

– – “A Description of Dennis, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1802.

“We like Dennis well, better than any town we had seen on the Cape, it was so novel, and, in that dreary day, so sublimely dreary.”

–Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, 1864

“Dennis is a beautiful town, full of quiet, satisfying scenery.”

– -J.B. Harrison, 189228

While the panoramic view from Scargo Hill Tower is the most famous view in town, the most appealing aspect of Dennis’ landscape is its 29 miles of coastal shoreline.29 The human eye delights in scenes where land meets water, and it does so in Dennis with dramatic frequency and variety. Dennis has 1,139 acres of salt marsh and the broad sweep of these “meadows,” as the colonists knew them, is breathtaking from Chapin Beach Road or the Bass Hole Boardwalk. The scene along Nantucket Sound is dazzling, with sparkling waters lapping the continuous white sandy beach. The large tidal range (ten feet on Cape Cod Bay, three feet on Nantucket Sound) assures different perspectives even at the same location during various times of day.

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Beach during a storm                              Sunset

The more intimate shoreline scenes are prized as well, such as the Bass River bridge crossings at Route 28 (historically, the Lower Bridge), Highbank Road (the Upper Bridge) and Route 6, the Mid-Cape Highway. Bass River cuts north to south, almost dividing the Cape in half as the Mississippi does the nation, and it is the spot on the Cape’s major highway where arriving motorists first spy salt water. (Annual traffic on Route 6 in Dennis is now two and a half times what it was in 1975, so many more people must be enjoying the view!)

Numerous ponds and occasional fields, such as the late Whitfield Johnson’s farm on Route 6A and the Fennel estate on Sesuit Neck, provide upland vistas in the absence of the large farms found elsewhere in Massachusetts. The primary pond views are of Scargo Lake from the heavily-traveled Route 6A and Baker’s Pond on Airline Road, where the setting sun is piercing across the water as seen from the street. Besides Bass River, Swan River is the most visually-accessible saltwater view, as long views up and downstream are afforded from the busy road crossings at Upper and Lower County Roads and Route 28. A residents’ survey in 1976 elicited the following partial list of highly valued scenic areas in town: Sesuit Creek and marsh; Chapin Beach and dunes; Crowe’s Pasture Conservation Area; Nobscusset bluffs, Plashes Pond and Bass River.30

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Swan Pond River                                                Sesuit Creek


Culturally, the main streets of Dennis Village, East Dennis and South Dennis are a visually distinctive part of Massachusetts. In fact, the Old Kings Highway was chosen as one of the ten Most Outstanding Scenic Byways in America in 1993.31 When the Cape Cod Commission classified the Old Kings Highway for scenic resources in 1995, Dennis was the only town in which the entire length of the route was considered to have a High Concentration of Scenic Elements as well as five major open scenic views.32

While popularly scorned for its relative lack of scenic beauty and commercial tackiness, Route 28 is beginning to receive the attention of Dennis citizens and businesses. The town has adopted a number of zoning changes affecting cultural issues along Route 28 and other parts of town. These include:

  • Dennisport Village Center District which involved adopting a higher density mixed use zoning for the traditional village area. The by-law includes design standards tied to the history of the village.
  • West Dennis Village Center Districts which are a series of districts tying the historic village center to the adjacent waterfront. This re-zoning included down-zoning to protect critical waterfront resources, promote water dependent uses, and promote mixed uses in the historic village.
  • Regulations to control Formula Based Businesses were adopted with varying restrictions in various parts of town. This zoning change asserts, at a minimum, design control over businesses meeting the definition of formula based businesses. This control allows the town to promote architectural and color schemes that are more traditional to Cape Cod rather than promote the Anywhere USA look of most chain businesses.

The mix of historical architecture and natural splendor is what attracts many tourists and residents to Dennis. Dennis wears its colors proudly: the gold of its marshes, the silver of its beaches, the blues of its ponds, the greens of its woods, and the reds of its bogs.

C. Water Based Resources

Dennis is part of the Cape Cod Watershed, a single watershed that incorporates the entire Cape. There are 52 sub-watersheds. The boundaries of these sub-watersheds generally follow groundwater topography resulting in sub-watersheds crossing town boundaries and towns, like Dennis, having more than one sub-watershed within its borders.


Source: Cape Cod Watershed Assessment and Action Plan, EOEA 2004

The Town of Dennis contains six sub-watersheds, one of which, the Bass River Sub-Watershed, is further divided into subsets. These are illustrated in the map below. The quality of the Dennis sub-watersheds are being analyzed as part of the Dennis Comprehensive Wastewater Management Study. This study is attempting to identify the need for, and ultimately prioritize town wastewater investments. The sub-watershed data collection will also assist the town in prioritizing open space investments as the protection of lands along side threatened resources can also serve to protect and enhance water quality. The following discussion provides more detail on specific aspects of water and water planning in Dennis. As the discussion illustrates, water is critical to the town, just as it is to the entire Cape. The water bodies of Dennis attract tourists, provide recreational opportunities and, of course, provide clean and potable drinking water.

The following provides a brief description of each of the sub-watersheds based upon the Cape Cod Watershed Assessment and Action Plan (EOEA, February 2003).

Bass River Sub-Watershed

This sub-watershed is located within the towns of Dennis, Yarmouth and Brewster. The sub-watershed contains 10.331 acres. Capped landfills in both Dennis and Yarmouth are located within this watershed as well as the Dennis Yarmouth Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Dennis portion of the sub-watershed contains numerous recreational activities including two golf courses, Johnny Kelley Recreation Area, boat landings on the Bass River as well as Kelley and Flax Pond, Mayfair and Bass River Marina, a number of beaches including West Dennis

Dennis SubwatershedsBeach and other active and passive recreation areas. The sub-watershed also contains most of the Zone II area serving the Dennis water district.

Chase Garden Creek Sub-Watershed

This sub-watershed contains 3,117 acres within Dennis and Yarmouth. The watershed is predominantly undeveloped marsh area. The area contains several beaches including Chapin’s Beach and Mayflower Beach, recreational areas such as the off-road vehicle area adjacent to Chapin’s Beach, boat launches and shell-fishing opportunities. The north-westerly edge of the Dennis Zone II area is located in the Dennis portion of this sub-watershed.

Herring River Sub-Watershed

This is a rather large sub-watershed located mostly in Harwich and Brewster, a very small portion of the sub-watershed is located within Dennis. The Dennis portion of this sub-watershed is predominantly densely developed with a shopping center and small lot residential development. The sub-watershed skirts the easterly edge of the Sea View Park property.

Quivett Creek Sub-Watershed

This sub-watershed is located in Brewster and Dennis. The sub-watershed contains 1,415 acres, predominantly wetland and protected land areas. The area includes the Dennis District of Critical Planning Concern area known as the Quivet Neck/Crowe’s Pasture Resource Protection Area. The sub-watershed includes shell-fishing areas and an anadromous fish run. Within Crowe’s Pasture the town maintains an off-road vehicle recreation area. Crowe’s Pasture is maintained by the Dennis Natural Resources Department and includes use of various vegetation management practices to maintain the pasture resource.

Sesuit Harbor Sub-Watershed

The Sesuit Harbor Sub-Watershed contains 1,752 acres. It centers on Sesuit Creek and Sesuit Harbor in Dennis and is completely contained in Dennis. The sub-watershed includes numerous recreational activities including both recreational and commercial boating out of Sesuit Harbor, a freshwater beach on Scargo Lake and an anadromous fish run. The town recently completed water flow improvements in this sub-watershed with the replacement of the culvert under Bridge Street.

Swan Pond River Sub-Watershed

This sub-watershed is located in Dennis and Harwich. The sub-watershed contains 2,211 acres. The Swan Pond River and Swan Pond are “recovering” after years of eutrophication. While the waters are actively used for recreational boating, water quality has been significantly compromised. Several town owned conservation areas are included within this sub-watershed with walking trails and boat launches.

1. Salt Water Bodies

“These [salt] ponds and coves are of more value to the inhabitants than the same quantity of land, as they are filled with fish, and the shores abound with clams.”

– – “A Description of Dennis” Mass. Historical Society, 1802.

As previously discussed, the town’s landscape character and 29 miles of salt water shorefront are a primary focus of informal outdoor activities and form the background for the town’s tourist-based economy, including swimming, fishing, shellfishing, hunting, and boating. These activities are spread throughout the town’s marine areas: Swan Pond, Bass River, Sesuit Harbor, Nantucket Sound, Bass Hole and Cape Cod Bay. Major public bathing beaches are at Chapin Beach, Mayflower Beach, Cold Storage Beach, Sea Street Beach and Corporation Beach on Cape Cod Bay and numerous sandy beaches along the Sound, of which the largest and most popular is West Dennis Beach, at the mouth of Bass River (See Table 4.0). The primary boat anchorages are found in Sesuit Harbor on the Northside, and throughout Bass River on the Southside including the town-owned Bass River Park Marina. Sailing is limited upstream of Route 28’s fixed Bass River Bridge.

Surfcasting for bluefish and striped bass is a popular pastime along the beaches on the North and South Sides. Baitfishing is frequently conducted from the Bass River Bridge (Route 28.) Beaches open to off road vehicles (ORVs) are limited to town-owned land at Chapin Beach and Crowe’s Pasture; ORVs are unnecessary on the Southside, with frequent town landings and beaches interspersed among the numerous private lots.

The Town of Dennis has been cooperating regionally, through the Cape Cod Commission, in the Cape Cod Coastal Embayment Project to examine, among other things, the recharge areas and nutrient loading capacity of eight saltwater bodies in the county, including the Upper Bass River (north of Route 6).33A Almost all of Dennis’ land area contributes via groundwater discharge to a coastal embayment, salt pond or estuary. (See Map 4.C.1.) Hence, land use throughout much of town can affect the quality of saltwater bodies.

The town’s saltwater resources as discussed above support a strong, and growing, aquaculture industry. Through a number of aquaculture grants off of Crowe’s Pasture, the town has successfully promoted a return to one of the early industries that formed the town, the fishing industry. The Dennis aquaculture farms raise award winning shellfish for area restaurants.

(See Section 4. F. 1 for further discussion of Bass River. See also, the Coastal Resources Element of the Local Comprehensive Plan.)



2. Fresh Water Bodies

“A number of ponds of clear, fresh water, beautify the town, and furnish fish and game in abundance for the angler and the sportsman.”

“Dennis,” in Nason’s Gazetteer of Massachusetts, 1874.

The town’s primary freshwater resources are its ponds, totaling over 240 acres of surface area. These ponds are scattered throughout the town, primarily in the geologic areas of outwash plain and glacial lake deposit. (See Map 4.C1) Nine of the ponds are greater than ten acres in size, which classifies them as Great Ponds of the Commonwealth. The public owns Great Ponds and is entitled to access, while other ponds can be owned privately by surrounding land owners and public access can be prohibited. Only one of Dennis’s Great Ponds (Scargo Lake) has been officially surveyed as greater than ten acres in area by state engineers,34 but clearly others meet the test. Seventeen ponds are private by size, but have public access through publicly-owned land, primarily wellfields of the Dennis Water District around their shores. One pond, the three-acre Duck Pond, has been obliterated over the past 50 years by filling associated with the town landfill. Several ponds were created by impoundment, including The Reservoir at the head of Quivett Creek (Bound Brook) and the Plashes Ponds.

Recreationally, the most important swimming ponds are Scargo Lake and Flax Pond, both of which have important town conservation/recreation land abutting them. Scargo Lake is the only one available for trailered boats (though horsepower is limited by town bylaw) and most pond boating is limited to canoes, rowboats and other small craft. Scargo Lake is also the major freshwater fishing pond, being stocked with trout by the state twice each year .35 An anadromous fish run for blueback herring and alewife species extends into Scargo Lake.

Most of the ponds in Dennis are classic kettlehole ponds, formed on the Cape as deep depressions in the glacial outwash left by stagnant ice blocks. Most are isolated, that is, they do not drain by a brook to the sea. These ponds, dependent solely on the fluctuation in the aquifer’s water table for their own surface level, often expose a wide shore during the summer when the water table is low. These exposed shorelines comprise the unique habitat called “coastal plain pondshores,” which harbor rare and endangered plants, such as Plymouth gentian, golden club and long-beaked bald rush, and rare animals, such as the comet darner and New England bluet (damselflies).37 (See Section 4.E on Vegetation)

The significance of Dennis’ ponds lies not in their importance for boating, as is the case in other Cape Cod towns, but rather the fact that they are the town’s primary sites for rare plant and animal species and should be protected as sensitive habitat.


Pond Name

Surface Acreage

Max. Depth


Shore Length (miles)




OFFICIAL GREAT PONDS: (public; surveyed by state engineers)
Scargo Lake, D. 53 48 1.3 trout-stocked fishing; swimming; 7.5hp boating town ramp, beach herring run
PRESUMED GREAT PONDS: (public; surface area greater than 10 acres)
Fresh Pond, S.D. 29 8 0.95 skating; fishing;5hp boating;walking trails Rt.134 town cons. area cedar swamp
Kelley’s Pond, W.D. 25 0.95 town cons. area
Flax Pond, D. 15 29 0.52 swimming, fishing town cons. area
Grassy Pond,E.D. 12 0.76 through wellfield rare plants
White’s Pond, E.D. 12 0.47 no formal access
Cedar Pond, E. D. 10 0.55 swim, fishing Airline Rd. town cons.
Coles Pond, E.D. 10 0.53 no formal access rare plants
Eagle Pond, S.D. 10 0.38 off Love Lane
PRIVATE PONDS with Public Access: (less than 10 acres,but publicly-owned frontage or access)
Run Pond, D. 9 0.57 through wellfield rare plants
Bakers Pond, E.D. 8 0.50 fishing Airline Rd. cons. area rare plants
Aunt Patty’s Pond, E.D. 8 0.76 through wellfield rare plants
Funn Pond, E.D. 5 0.30 through D. Pines GC
Clay Pond, E.D. 5 0.28 through wellfield rare plants
N. Simmons Pond, E.D. 5 0.37 through wellfield rare plants
S. Simmons Pond, E.D. 5 0.41 from N. Simmons Pond rare plants
Whittemores Pond, S.D. 3 0.28 through town cons. area
Cash Pond, E.D. 3 0.3 through wellfield
Duck Pond, D. 1.76 0.2 through wellfield
Baker’s Pondlet, E.D. 0.75 0.2 through wellfield
Tiny Pond, S.D. 0.5 0.1 through town cons. area
SE Grass Pond, E.D. 0.5 0.1 through wellfield near S. Simmons Pd.
NW Grass Pond, E.D. 0.4 0.1 through wellfield near N. Simmons Pd.
The Plashes, D.P. through town cons. area manmade
Great Pond Plash, D.P. through town cons. area manmade
The Reservoir, E.D. Bound Brook Cons. Area manmade; herring run
PRIVATE PONDS: (less than 10 acres; no public access; surrounded by private property)
Shiverick Pond, E.D. 2 0.2 Nordblom estate
Hinckleys Pond, S.D. 1 0.2 off Hummel Drive
unnamed pond, S.D. 0.4 0.1 off Mayfair Road
unnamed pond, S.D. 0.4 0.1 off Mayfair Road
Little Coles Pond, E.D. 0.4 0.1 Mastin estate connects to Coles Pond
HISTORICAL PONDS: (ponds no longer in existence due to filling)
Duck Pond, S.D. -2.5 -0.3 town landfill area
Total 240+ acres 11.58 miles (does not include filled ponds)

3. Surface Water Quality

Finding on all sides springs, brooks and ponds of “sweet water,” they had built their houses near them, and so, blessed with good water as well as good air,” they had health and long life.

– – Philip Howes Sears, Remarks, 188938

All of Dennis’s waters are generally of high quality, though problem spots exist. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection39 lists all of the marine (salt) waters of Dennis as Class SA, the top salt water ranking, meaning they are an “outstanding resource” whose purity should be suitable for all types of water recreation, including swimming and shellfishing. All freshwater ponds are included in Class B, the top freshwater ranking for ponds not used as a source of a public drinking water supply. These ponds must be maintained at a high level of purity and are not supposed to be degraded by point source discharges, such as sewage outfalls. In fact, it is non-point sources of pollution (road runoff, septic systems, lawn maintenance, etc.) that are the more potent threat to water quality of ponds and bays in Dennis.

Recharge areas are land areas that contribute ground water flow to surface water bodies, such as ponds, streams and bays. (See Map 4.C.1.) Recharge areas are much more relevant on Cape Cod, where sandy soils readily transmit groundwater, than land surface watersheds that contribute surface run-off to ponds and bays off-Cape. Land uses within recharge areas significantly influence surface water quality. A current study by the Cape Cod Commission has identified the recharge area to Upper Bass River (north of Route 6.)40 Dennis provides 3,141 acres of this 6,436 -acre recharge area, while Yarmouth and Brewster combined provide the other half. The study concludes that nitrogen loads contributed to Upper Bass River (including Follins Pond) will exceed the criteria needed to maintain the waters’ SA rating, if the recharge area proceeds on its projected course to full “build out” residential development.41 This scenario will degrade the æsthetic and recreational value of this important marine area. The three towns will need to work together to solve this problem.

Eutrophication is the process by which a pond experiences algal blooms, oxygen depletion, fish kills, noxious odors and visual deterioration as a result of excessive nutrient inputs (usually from runoff and septic systems). Some of Dennis’s smaller ponds are (anecdotally) presumed to suffer from eutrophication, but no studies have yet been done.

Freshwater ponds on the Cape tend to be naturally acidic due to a lack of alkaline materials in the soils, and accelerated acidification seems apparent in several ponds. Between 1983-85 the Acid Rain Monitoring (ARM) Project, coordinated by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, sampled 3,370 surface waters throughout the state and found that 5.5 percent were acidified, 16.8 percent were critical, 20 percent were endangered and 21.7 percent were highly sensitive (in descending order of degradation). Dennis was one of only 25 towns throughout the state (one of seven on the Cape) that ARM considered to be the most highly acidic.42 Ironically, the high acidity keeps the pond waters attractive for swimming because the water looks very clear and feels “soft.”

Dennis waterbodies have not been a part of ARM IV, the ongoing monitoring of water bodies around the state. The nearest waterbodies monitored as part of this ongoing effort are located in Eastham and Wellfleet.

4. Floodplains

Dennis participates in the Federal Flood Insurance Program, which requires that new shorefront development meet engineering standards for floodproofing, but does not prohibit development. Flood velocity zones, or V-zones, are land areas where storm surge or direct wave action occurs. A 1988 analysis by the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office found that in the 1970s, Dennis had more structures built in the velocity zone than any other Cape Cod town except Bourne and Falmouth. About 124 buildings are clearly located in the V-zone, primarily near West Dennis Beach and Chapin Beach.43 Hurricane Bob and the 1991 Halloween Storm damaged some houses along the Southside. State and local wetlands protection legislation should help prevent future development in this high hazard area.

Landward of the velocity zones are other flood-prone areas (A-Zones) in which standing waters can be expected during 100-year storm events. These areas consist mostly of salt marshes and shorefront uplands up to about the 13-foot contour. Both commercial and residential developed areas, including portions of Route 28, occur in the A-Zone (See Map 4.C.2).

In coming decades, flooding and erosion will be increasingly exacerbated due to relative sea level rise. This phenomenon, the result of land subsidence and ocean expansion from global warming, could result in the loss of between 113 and 394 acres of upland in Dennis between the years 1980 and 2025.44 These areas will basically coincide with the 100 year floodplain. Sea level rise will also mean an increase in the severity of storm damage. Owing to its low-lying coastline that intrudes far inland, Dennis can expect to experience a shoreline retreat (as a percentage of its land mass) worse than any other Cape Cod town.45 The town must consider this issue when examining long-term public investment in shoreline facilities, such as in siting new parking lots.

According to the Cape Cod Commission’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan for Barnstable County the Town of Dennis has 16 repetitive loss properties as of 2002. The town also had 881 National Flood Insurance Program Insurance Policies written with a value of $141,262,100 at the end of 2002. Between 1978 (the start of the NFIP) and December 31, 2002 the Commission reported that there were 214 claims in Dennis with 142 documented losses (Closed Loss claims) and 72 claims closed without payments. Total NFIP payments in that time period was $1,374,593. The map below was produced by the Cape Cod Commission and further illustrates flood information beyond the detail in the map above. The map below includes the location of repetitive loss properties and critical community facilities.

DennisPDM (Custom) (3)5. Wetlands

Wetlands, both fresh and salt water types, are the food factory and habitat for most of Dennis’s wild animals. Fortunately, Dennis is blessed with a diversity of wetland, in type, size and distribution, scattered evenly throughout the Town (See Map 4.C.3).

A 1990 University of Massachusetts study46 found that Dennis had 402 acres of freshwater wetlands, 42 acres of cranberry bogs and 976 acres of saltwater wetlands. A 1985 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management report identified 1,139 acres of salt marsh in Dennis, located primarily along the Northside, but also along Swan Pond River, fringing Bass River, and elsewhere.47 (This difference in salt marsh acreage figures is due to differences in methodology, not loss of habitat.) A salt marsh’s high biomass makes it excellent habitat for birds, shellfish, and finfish nurseries. About two-thirds of commercially-important finfish spend some of their life cycle feeding or spawning in or near salt marshes.48

Two of the largest vegetated wetland areas are the 140 acres along Swan River and 80 acres along Weir Creek, which, ironically, are set amongst the most densely developed parts of town in Dennisport and West Dennis, respectively. (Town Meeting considered the purchase of Weir Creek in 1967, but the acquisition was never consummated.)48a

As with Dennis’s ponds, most freshwater wetlands are dependent on water table fluctuations, rather than surface runoff, to ensure the soil saturation necessary for wetland plants.

Most wetlands are at low elevations close to the water table and the sand and gravel soils readily transmit groundwater through wetlands. Wetlands play an important role in filtering out contaminants from freshwater and reducing flooding during major storms.

In addition to town administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, the Town simultaneously administers a local wetlands protection bylaw (adopted 1975; upgraded in 1989 and 2006) that strengthens minimum state performance standards, such as tightening regulations for building on dunes and asserting town jurisdiction over small wetlands. In addition, wetlands replication as a mitigative strategy is discouraged under the town bylaw, as it is not under state law. Septic system leaching fields must be located over 100 feet from wetlands, rather than the 50-foot state Title 5-standard. Established in 1964, the Conservation Commission is one of the oldest in Massachusetts and has been an able protector of the town’s wetlands for all of these years.

Special Wetland Resources

5.1 Freshwater Wetlands

“Besides these ponds there is a number of swamps, five or six which have cedar

in them. Several of these swamps are capable of being converted into good land.”

— “A Description of Dennis,” Massachusetts Historical Society, 1802.

“I saw a cedar swamp here [in Dennis], with unusually large timber.”

–J.B. Harrison, 189248b

The 1990 Critical Habitats Atlas for Cape Cod49 identifies two wetland areas that are dominated by Atlantic White Cedar (Chamæcyparis thyoides) in Dennis. These forested wetlands, around the eastern perimeter of Fresh Pond and the headwaters of Otter Creek draining to Swan Pond River, are highly acidic and are uncommon throughout the Cape. (There is also a fringe of white cedar around The Plashes ponds in Dennisport.) Much but not all of the cedar swamp acreage is now owned by the Dennis Conservation Commission and the Dennis Conservation Trust. Regionally, cedar swamps were once much more extensive before the trees were harvested for shingles and fence posts in earlier centuries or converted to cranberrying. Of the 6,000 acres of cedar swamp thought to exist at the time of the Pilgrim’s landing on Cape Cod,50 only 135 acres persist today.51

A 1991 study52 found that Dennis had five acres in which white cedar composed more than 75 percent of the canopy cover, indicating almost “pure stands.” The significance of the Dennis cedar swamps argues for continued efforts to protect them by acquisition or conservation

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easement in cooperation with landowners. While all of the Fresh Pond and Plashes cedar swamps are town owned, only half of the larger Otter Creek site is protected by town ownership. A recently inventoried cedar swamp on Scargo Lake has been protected by the Dennis Conservation Trust.

Vernal pools were officially recognized as critical habitat in 1987 when the Massachusetts General Court amended the Wetlands Protection Act to include their protection. These small temporary ponds are crucial breeding grounds for woodland amphibians, such as Eastern spadefoot toads and salamanders. One vernal pool has been certified in Dennis so far.53 These small isolated wetlands can be expected to be found throughout the town owing to its steep hill-and-kettle topography, particularly on the Northside where the soil is denser and perched water wetlands are more likely to be found.

5.2 Saltwater Wetlands

Another significant, though often overlooked, wetland resource in Dennis are tidal flats.54 Dennis has 122 acres of estuarine flats, which are portions of the beds of salt ponds (Swan Pond) or estuaries (Bass River) exposed at low tide. They are particularly productive for shellfish populations. There are also 880 acres of marine flats of the type found in open coastal areas, primarily along Cape Cod Bay. Both of these types of flats are an important recreational resource in the town. The firm, hard footing of the flats is popular for activities ranging from shellfishing to walking to kite flying. Unlike Yarmouth, where the Bayside flats are isolated from public use by broad salt marshes, Dennis has ready access to its Northside flats from public beaches at Chapin, Corporation, Cold Storage and Crowes Pasture.

6. Streams and Water Courses

“Life is by watercourses,” – – Emerson

“The brook [New Boston Brook; now, Chase Garden Creek] that flows through the village of North Dennis [now, Dennis Village] had numerous fine flowing springs to supply the needs of the first comers.” – – Deyo, 189055

Though its tidal creeks are much more important recreational resources, Dennis has a number of small freshwater streams, serving as tributaries to estuaries, serving as anadromous/catadramous fish runs or as wildlife corridors. The most significant of these water courses are Chase Garden Creek and The Run. Each courses through the bottom of old glacial outwash channels, providing the major freshwater inputs to the Bass Hole estuary and Swan Pond, respectively.

These streams pose as “Cape Cod rivers.” Though frequently capable of being waded without boots or jumped without splashing, and suffering such indignities as being herded into concrete culverts to cross roadways, they are nevertheless important. Many have been artificially manipulated over the years by ditching, for cranberry irrigation or mosquito control. A program which identified these sometimes obscure resources to the public might educate the citizenry as to their vital role in ensuring water quality in ponds, tidal rivers and bays.

Table 4.2 Dennis’ Fresh Water Courses

Name of Stream Headwaters Receiving Body Approx. Length (in miles)
The Run NW Harwich Swan Pond, D.P. 1.5 miles
Chase Garden Creek Whig St. bogs, D.V. Bass Hole, CC Bay 1.25 miles
Weir Creek Lohr bogs, W.D. West Dennis Harbor 0.8 miles
Pond Brook Fresh Pond, S.D. Grand Cove, W.D. 0.6 miles
Sesuit Creek Scargo Lake, D.V. Sesuit Harbor, E.D. 0.4 miles
Cyrenious Brook Cyrenious Ponds, S.D. Kelley’s Bay, S.D. 0.4 miles
Bound Brook Muddy Pond, E.D. Quivett Creek, E.D. 0.2 miles

7. Groundwater Resources

In 1982, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated all of Barnstable County as a Sole Source Aquifer in recognition of the region’s complete reliance on groundwater as its potable water supply. Dennis is served by the Monomoy Lens, the second largest of six discrete components of the aquifer. This lens provides water for all of the Cape towns from Orleans to Dennis; Bass River serves as its westerly discharge point. Acknowledging that inter-town cooperation is needed to manage the quantity and quality of the aquifer, Dennis has participated with these towns and county agencies on groundwater plans, such as the 1987 State of the Aquifer Report by the Cape Cod Planning and Economic Development Commission, and the Monomoy Lens Groundwater Protection Project by the Cape Cod Commission in 1993. Several of Dennis’ 20 public supply wells draw groundwater from over the town border into Brewster and a small portion of Harwich, so Dennis cannot simply rely on the aquifer within its own borders for its needs. Cooperative regional management of this resource is essential.

Of the 46 inches of precipitation that falls on the Cape in a typical year, about 16 inches reaches the water table underground to replenish or “recharge” the aquifer. The freshwater lens in Dennis is “thin” (less than 30 feet in water table depth through most of the town) relative to Upper Cape towns, which can make it relatively more vulnerable to potential contamination. Most of Dennis’ public supply wells are located north of Route 6 where the land use is predominantly residential with one-acre minimum lot sizes. There are very few underground fuel tanks within the wellhead protection areas.56

In 1979 (refined in 1986), Dennis Town Meeting adopted a Water Resource Overlay District to protect land within recharge areas to wellfields from potentially hazardous uses, such as underground fuel tanks and hazardous materials storage. In 1981, the Dennis Board of Health adopted a hazardous materials storage bylaw, requiring commercial users and storers of these products to register an inventory with the town. “Dennis is the only town in the Monomoy Lens that controls all of the land uses in the groundwater protection district through Board of Health regulations,”57 rather than simply through zoning. The Wellhead Resource Protection regulations of the Board of Health were recently amended in March of 2001 and February of 2003. Our new local Board of Health regulations are in compliance with the Massachusetts Wellhead Protection Regulations 310CMR22.21(2), enforced by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply.

A 1994 study by the US Geological Survey58 found that only about 7.9 percent of the Monomoy Lens land area (Dennis through Orleans) was useful for siting new public supply wells. While exact acreage for Dennis is not available, the report’s map shows only limited areas near Eagle Pond and the existing wellfields at High Pines, Grassy Pond and Flax Pond as primarily suitable. There are no “frontiers” left in town for new public water supply exploration. Nevertheless, the Dennis Water District expects to see demand increase by 1.1 million gallons per day over the next twenty years.59

D. Vegetation

“The township is naturally divided into two parts by a large tract of wood, which is chiefly in the centre. This wood consists of a little white oak, of some red and black oak, but principally of pitch pine.”

–“A Description of Dennis, ” Massachusetts Historical Society, 1802.

“…the forests, which in Dennis extend along the road in one place three miles, are low and unthrifty…the surface destitute of beauty.”

— Timothy Dwight, “Travels in New York and New England,” 1822.

“Indeed, that part of Dennis which we saw [Northside] was an exceedingly barren and desolate country, of a character which I can find no name for; such a surface, perhaps, as the bottom of the sea made dry land day before yesterday.”

— Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, 1864.


In 1620 the Mayflower Pilgrims described Cape Cod’s lofty forests of “oaks, pines, sassafras, juniper, birch and holly.”61 As the population developed, residents decimated the woods to build wharves, ships, houses, salt vats, fences, windmills and for the prodigious amount, by far, of firewood consumed by the colonists’ open fireplaces.62 By the 1800s, much of the settled parts of the town was denuded of woodland, which Thoreau remarked left a “barren and desolate country…such a surface, perhaps, as the bottom of the sea made dry land day before yesterday.”63 Unchecked forest fires claimed some of the remaining forest stands.64

By 1890, as the town’s population dwindled and farms collapsed, the forest crept back and an observer reported that the “intervening region of land [between the Dennis villages] of four or five miles is densely covered with oak, pine, birch, cedar and other woods.”65 This type of forest community is ascendant yet today.

Because the opportunistic species of pitch pine and oak are not of millable quality (and pitch pine is essentially ignored as a fuelwood) the new forest of Dennis does not face the same commercial threat that the original one did. Today, the threat to forestland is primarily from displacement by residential development. If Dennis can be said now to exhibit a suburban pattern of development, perhaps the pivot point was around 1982, when urbanized acreage (land used for residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and waste purposes) finally outstripped forest land. In the past 45 years, Dennis has lost more than half of its forested acreage, as shown in Table 4. 3.

Table 4. 3. Forestland vs. Residential Acreage, Town of Dennis66

1951 8,253 1,889
1971 6,774 3,869
1980 5,799 4,871
1984 4,520 5,926
1990 3,979 6,440
2008 3,663 6,756

Despite its paucity of rich and varied soils, Dennis still supports some interesting plant communities in addition to the typical pitch pine and oak (red, black, scrub, pin oak, scarlet oak) association found throughout Cape Cod. There are areas where white pine (Pinus strobus) predominates and even some small plantations of red pine (Pinus rubrum). Other tree species found scattered throughout town include red maple (Acer rubrum), black cherry (Prunus serotina), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), gray birch (Betula populifolia), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) and American beech (Fagus grandiflora).

A 1995 study of the four miles of Route 6A in Dennis indicated its variety of trees:67

Of all the towns along Route 6A, the town of Dennis contains the greatest diversity of tree species. The western portion is primarily pines and oaks…The Tobey Farm area consists of primarily Catalpa and English Oak…[The very dense canopy near Scargo Lake] is created by norway and sycamore maples and Tupelos. Dense understory in this area adds to a sense of enclosure while traveling along this section…

The same study recommended vista pruning along Route 6A near Scargo Lake and Sesuit Creek and enhanced tree plantings at Player’s Plaza and the Yarmouth town line.

The predominant pine/oak forests, by themselves, are often considered of limited value from a wildlife standpoint because of their short height, crown density and the poor quality of the dominant soil association. When a wetland, cranberry bog or power line plant community occurs adjacent to the woodlands, the wildlife value of both the open and wooded areas is greatly enhanced for many species. “Forest-interior” species (those that depend upon large blocks of unfragmented woodland, such as neotropical migrant breeding songbirds) will be satisfied with few areas in fragmented Dennis, except perhaps in the large, flat pine/oak forest east of the powerline in the High Pines Wellfield along the Brewster town line.

The habitat significance of the woodlands of Dennis primarily lies in its ability to provide migratory corridors and refuge for wildlife from the heat and openness of the beaches, marshes and the built-up environment. The recreational value of these wooded areas for humans is remarkably similar. For much of the off-season, the great recreation areas of the beaches are not as popular as one might expect because of the exacerbated cold there. Woodlands offer important shelter and relief from the bitter winds off the Bay and Sound.

Rare plants in Dennis protected under the 1991 Massachusetts Endangered Species Act include those listed as Endangered, Threatened and Species of Special Concern, in descending order of rarity. Pondshore species comprise the primary rarities, including Special Concern species, such as Plymouth gentian (Sabatia kennedyana), Wright’s panic-grass (Dichanthelium wrightianum), and Thread-leaved sundew (Drosera filiformis). Coastal or brackish plants include the Special Concern Salt reedgrass (Spartina cynosuriodes).68 State regulations prohibit the taking or habit alteration of these species without a state permit.

In fact, several of Dennis’ coastal plain pondshores are among the top priorities in the state for rare species habitat. Of the seven top-ranked (B2)


pond sites on Cape Cod, two are in Dennis: Aunt Pattys Pond and Run Pond, both north of Setucket Road. These ponds are rated most highly in need of protection. Fortunately, all of the shoreline of these two ponds is owned by the Dennis Water District and, therefore, protected from development. It was determined during permitting that there would be no impact on these ponds and no restrictions were placed on the new well sources in these areas. In fact there are no restrictions on any of the ground water sources in the Town. This allows the District to withdraw water from a larger network of wells, lessening any questionable impact on a resource.

E. Fisheries and Wildlife

Dennis is located at the juncture of two major wildlife zones: the Virginian and the Acadian biogeographic regions. Cape Cod separates the warm Gulf Stream waters of Nantucket Sound (northern edge of the Virginian zone) from the cold Labrador Current coursing down through the Gulf of Maine into Cape Cod Bay (southern edge of the Acadian zone). Marine species composition, from seaweed to squid to marine mammals, is different between these two sides of Dennis. In many ways, it is the marine life of Dennis which is more diverse and interesting than its terrestrial fauna. Dennis’ Cape Cod Bay shoreline is the innermost area recently proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service as critical habitat for the federally-endangered North American right whale.

The waters of Dennis also support a wide array of pelagic birds, such as fulmars, gannets, shearwaters and alcids (guillemot, murre, razorbill) all attracted to the abundant baitfish. The Chase Garden Marsh is part of one of only five Cape embayments identified as important wintering areas for black ducks, a National Species of Special Emphasis.70 Shore birds include terns (common, least and an occasional roseate) and piping plovers, all listed as protected rare species in Massachusetts. In 1996, a plover nest on Chapin Beach was deliberately destroyed by an unapprehended human, perhaps to protest a limitation on ORVs on the beach, required when plovers re-establish a colony there. The West Dennis Beach area has been the site of one additional accidental loss of a plover chick since 1996. The Dennis Natural Resources Department employs a monitor every summer to identify nests. The monitor is also charged with monitoring hatches, survival and fledging. The Department of Natural Resources orders area closures as necessary per state and federal regulations to protect the terns and plovers. The Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Coastal Waterbird Program notes that West Dennis Beach is the town’s most important tern nesting habitat, and that natural disturbances, not human ones, seem to cause the most problem..71

While a complete inventory of birds is not available for Dennis, other important or interesting breeding birds include osprey, northern parula warbler, pine warbler, orchard oriole, eastern bluebird, savannah sparrow, sharp-tailed sparrow, eastern meadowlark, red-tailed hawk, killdeer, woodcock, horned lark, ruby-throated hummingbird, eastern phoebe, great horned owl, willet, and mute swan.72

Rare species found in Dennis include the Eastern box turtle, which prefers woodlands with access to water, and threatened and rare invertebrates, such as dragonflies (comet darner), damselflies (New England bluet, barrens bluet), and moths (water willow stem borer).73 The University of Massachusetts Natural History Collectyion includes an inventory of 8,000 herpetolical species in the state. The herpetological atlas for Massachusetts, should be consulted for additional information.

Mammals in Dennis include the common assemblage of adaptive species: red and gray squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, red fox, rabbit, skunk, otter, opossum, shrew, muskrat, bat, weasel, woodchuck, mice and voles. In recent years, a top-of-the-food-chain predator, the eastern coyote, has extended its range throughout all of Cape Cod and is seen throughout Dennis, particularly along salt marsh edges, where they stalk mice and voles.74

Wildlife corridors enable animals, particularly upland mammals, to migrate to new territories in search of food or breeding grounds. Biologists estimate that undisturbed linear areas of 300 feet in width are necessary for many species to feel comfortable moving undetected through an area. Owing to the dispersal of residential development throughout the town and its continuing saturation, wildlife corridors are fewer and more narrow than perhaps they should be. Important wildlife corridors in Dennis run east-west along the hilly kame, east-west through the wellfields from Flax Pond to the High Pines area, and north-south along the outwash channel wetlands along the Southside.

Dennis has about 800 acres of productive shellfish beds.75 Species harvested recreationally include soft-shell clam, quahog, sea clam, blue mussels, oysters and, intermittently, bay scallops. Commercial permits (average about 15 permits per year) are issued only for quahogs, soft-shell clams and scallops and blue mussels. About 500 recreational permits have been issued in recent years.76 The number of permits issued has dropped over the past decade, by ½ for commercial shellfisherman and by 200 permits for recreational fisherman. In addition, the town currently grants about 30 aquaculture licenses in the publicly owned Crowe’s Pasture flats area.

Because shellfishing is a popular pastime, there is always pressure on the shellfish supply. The town has tried to enhance natural sets of shellfish by raising feedstock in two upwellers and broadcasting quahog (1 million seed) and oysters (90,000 seed) (primarily in Bass River).

Swan Pond is the only shellfishing area which is indefinitely closed due to bacterial contamination. Other areas are closed during the summer or immediately after rainstorms which wash pollutants into the waters. Stormwater runoff remediation is underway to correct some of the non-point pollution problems. A remediation effort, directed towards improving flushing of Swan Pond through dredging, should help restore that area to shellfishing in the future.

Estuarine animals were very important as a historical food source:77

There are sea perch in Bass River. Bass enter this river in November and remain there and in Follen’s Pond through the winter. Eels may be caught in all the creeks, but they are found in the greatest abundance in Follens Pond and Bass River. Clams are plenty, particularly on the south shore where quahaugs are also found and a few good oysters. About 100 barrels of alewives are taken in a year.

Indeed, anadromous/catadramous fish runs (species, such as alewives, which live in saltwater but spawn in freshwater) are a part of Dennis’ history. A major settlement in town coincided with the upper reaches of the Bass River. From 1640 to 1841 fish traps or weirs were employed in this area to harvest the abundant fishery, including small striped bass, in addition to blueback herring and alewives, fish that migrated up the length of Bass River to spawn in the fresh headwaters. The tremendous gale of October 3, 1841 silted up the Bass River to such an extent that the commercial fishery here was extinguished.78

Today, the major “herring run” exists in the Sesuit Creek (to Scargo Lake) and Bound Brook (to the Reservoir), both recently renovated by volunteers. A smaller run, stocked in the late 1970s, is presumed to exist from Weir Creek to Kelley’s Pond in West Dennis. Herring and alewives are significant as the primary forage fish for other important sport and commercial species, such as striped bass and bluefish, which enter nearshore waters. White perch and sea-run brook trout are other anadromous fish found in Dennis streams.

F. Scenic Resources and Unique Features

Though environmental educators and activists are trying to increase public appreciation of the complex ecological relationships among soils, water, plants and animals, many people still approach the environment primarily from an æsthetic viewpoint. If it is an attractive landscape, it is valuable, according to this perspective. Fortunately, Dennis abounds in beautiful natural scenes which are also environmentally-sensitive areas, such as pondshores, salt marshes, barrier beaches, cranberry bogs and cedar swamps.


Significant Natural Areas:

1. Bass River

“The most important inlet is on the south shore. This is Bass River…”

–“A Description of Dennis,” Mass. Historical Society, 1802.

In 1987, the Massachusetts Historical Commission wrote,79

The Bass River appears to have been intensively settled from Middle Archaic times [8,000 to 6,500 years ago] to the present. Paleo Indian activity [the earliest dwellers on the Cape, 9,000 years ago] may have occurred here as well. Despite extensive recent development, small undeveloped tracts of land still remain, and some, such as Wilbur Park in Yarmouth and the Nickerson-Berth [sic – Bush? generally, the Indian Lands Conservation Area] property across the River in Dennis, are known to contain archæological sites. The archæological potential must be considered extraordinarily high for other parcels.

The shores of Bass River attracted the Cape’s original natives because of the abundant fisheries available there in the summer months. The Pokunnaukut tribe’s encampment persisted there until after the Revolution, one of the four most important reservations on the Cape & Islands.80 Fishing vessels and salt works were common sights through the mid-1800s in Bass River. Alewives, eels and shellfish, fowl and salt hay were important commercial resources harvested from the River into the present century.

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Indian Lands, South Dennis                      Salt Works

In addition to being an important historical area, Bass River is a major scenic resource. It is the only spot between the Cape Cod Canal and Wellfleet where Route 6, the Cape’s major highway, crosses salt water. It provides people in the 15,000 vehicles per day81 crossing the river a vivid reminder of the beauty of the Cape’s waters, whether they are commuting into Hyannis to work, or starting a two-week vacation from New Jersey.

At six and a half miles long, Bass River is the largest tidal river on Cape Cod.82 As such it has always presented an obstacle (and at one time a glimmer of opportunity) for transportation. The first drawbridge to cross the river was built in 1808 and more permanent ones installed in 1833 and 1865.83 Odd, though, was the oft-proposed idea of creating a Cape Cod canal from Nantucket Sound to Cape Cod Bay using Bass River (and Chase Garden Creek). In 1825, Yarmouth officials made the first serious proposal,84 and in 1895 a canal charter was granted, but never implemented.85 The scheme was resurrected in the 1960s, proposed for recreational rather than commercial purposes in the 1965 town master plan,86 but shortly thereafter the state wetlands protection laws were enacted and the idea of dredging out salt marshes was recognized for the environmental folly that it is.

Of primary significance, however, is Bass River’s diversity of fish populations. In the 1970s the state’s marine fisheries division surveyed 17 large estuaries around Massachusetts. Of the 17, Bass River had the largest numbers of estuarine fish species (38). Four species (blue runner, banded rudderfish, big-eye scad and planehead filefish) were found only in Bass River.87 The diversity stems from Bass River’s location at the northern edge of the warm-water Virginian biogeographic region. Winter flounder, striped bass and bluefish are the primary sportfish of the River. The most popular fishing spots are the Route 28 Bridge, Highbank Bridge and from boats below Route 28. A state Public Access Board boat ramp is sited at the River’s mouth next to Smuggler’s Beach in Yarmouth.

Dennis shares jurisdiction with the Town of Yarmouth over the River. Harbormaster patrols are set up so that Dennis patrols both towns’ sides of the River north of Route 28, while Yarmouth patrols all waters south of Route 28. Another interesting example of cross-jurisdiction is that the Town of Yarmouth Conservation Commission owns the salt marsh Stage Island, though it is located entirely within Dennis. Shellfishermen, however, must stay on their respective sides of the town lines anywhere in the River.

2. Chapin Beach

Comprised of 134 acres of dunes, the barrier beach known as Chapin Beach shelters the town’s largest saltwater wetland, Chase Garden Creek and its extensive salt marshes. Chapin Beach is the second largest (behind Barnstable’s Sandy Neck) barrier beach on Cape Cod outside of the National Seashore. It is also one of the town’s most popular natural areas used for outdoor recreation. Swimming, shellfishing, surf fishing are heavily pursued in their seasons. Chapin Beach (and Crowe’s Pasture and Barnstable’s Sandy Neck) hosts the Mid-Cape area’s only remaining off-road vehicle (beach buggy) access along the shore. The Town Beach Department manages the beach, while the Town Conservation Commission manages the dunes as a conservation area. In practice, both are patrolled by the Town Natural Resources Department. Aquacultural Research Corp. retained 40 acres around its quahog seed farming facility by the dunes, but donated its remaining 205 acres of salt marsh inside the dunes to the Dennis Conservation Trust in 1994. In 1976, a Dennis resident’s survey identified the Chapin beach and dunes as a visual asset of high quality.88

3. Scargo Lake

Far and away the largest and deepest pond in Dennis, Scargo Lake is also its primary freshwater recreation area. The lake is stocked in spring and fall with trout by the state, and fishing is considered excellent by locals and visitors alike. A 7.5 horsepower limit on motorcraft prevents disruption of fishing activity and swimming at the popular Princess Beach run by the town. Rising up directly from the lake, Scargo Hill provides it with a dramatic backdrop and overlook. The herring run is being renovated to provide a better supply of baitfish in the pond. While the town owns significant portions of the Scargo Lake shoreline, the town, Dennis Conservation Trust and others continue to acquire open space on the shore as it becomes available.

4. Fresh Pond

This 29-acre pond is almost entirely surrounded by about 100 acres of protected open space owned primarily by the Town of Dennis, the Dennis Conservation Trust and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. In 1963, Fresh Pond was first given priority as a potential public recreation area: “It is almost completely wild and unspoiled…This system of water is important in the migration of anadromous fish and in shellfish propagation….Under town ownership, it would create a green space in a very heavily settled part of Dennis…The whole area should remain in its natural state.”89 In 1974, the Fresh Pond area was identified as the only site in Dennis worthy of inclusion in a survey of Barnstable County “natural areas.”90 The survey noted that “the lake and the swamp are very productive…The area has a high esthetic value.” The eastern and northern shores of Fresh Pond contain the town’s major cedar swamp wetland. Fresh Pond Conservation Area also provides a long wooded greenbelt along busy Route 134, the town’s primary north-south connector, a welcome visual relief after traversing the crowded, urbanized Patriot Square shopping area. The Fresh Pond Conservation Area is also managed as a dog park.

5. Cranberry Bogs

As described in Section 3.2, Dennis was an early and major player in the development of the cranberry industry. Today, though, less than 20 acres are in production. Though official statistics are not available by town,91 reliable estimates suggest that 150 barrels per acre is an average yield Capewide and wholesale (farm gate) prices range from $22 to $80 (an average of $65) per barrel.92 This indicates that the Dennis cranberry crop can be valued at $66,000 to $240,000 wholesale in a given year. While the state Rivers Protection Act passed in 1996 provides a streamlined permitting process on the state and local level for renovating abandoned bog acreage back into production, it is unlikely to have much effect in Dennis where most of the surrounding upland needed to support a bog operation has either already been developed or derives its value as potential for housing. (Federal wetlands regulations remain unchanged and stricter than state or local laws related to redevelopment of abandoned bogs.)93

6. Quivet Neck/Crowe’s Pasture

The Quivet Neck/Crowes Pasture area represents one of the so-called “Last Great Places” in Dennis. It represents one of the few large, relatively undeveloped areas. As such the potential for development in the area will impact scenic territory and many resources that have been taken for granted by the town. Therefore, in 2001 the Town of Dennis initiated, with support from the Cape Cod Commission and Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, designating 250 acres of Crowe’s Pasture/Quivet Neck as a District of Critical Planning Concern. In June 2003, the Town Meeting and Cape Cod Commission adopted strict development regulations to protect the natural resources of this area. In 2003, the town of Dennis purchased 33 acres of prime upland within this area, this was followed by purchases of 28.05 acres and 4.47 acres (totaling 29.81 acres of upland) in 2006. The Town of Dennis continues to work with landowners and the Dennis Conservation Trust to purchase and/or acquire Conservation Restrictions within the Quivet Neck/Crowe’s Pasture area.

The area contains two significant freshwater ponds, Coles Pond and Little Coles Pond. Coles Pond at about ten acres is presumed to be a Great Pond. Coles Pond provides for about 2,800 linear feet of shore line, to which no formal access exists. It is an area which has been identified as rare vegetation habitat. Little Coles Pond is less than ½ acre in size and contains about 500 feet of shoreline. The presence of Plymouth Gentian, Sabatia kennedyana, an endangered herbaceous biennial of coastal ponds, has been documented adjacent to Coles Pond. This is a globally rare plant that is listed as being of special concern in Massachusetts and endangered in the United States.

Coles Pond and Little Coles Pond are considered to be Kettlehole ponds and as such have no inlet or outlet of water and are greatly impacted by local environmental conditions such as snowmelt and precipitation. These ponds and the habitat they sustain are extremely susceptible to the impacts of development and are in great need of protection from fill, erosion and alteration from the run-off of water and lawn fertilizers/herbicides.

The north coast of the area features a series of rocky promenades formed by the glaciers that extended across the north coast. The area between each rocky point is laced with narrow white sand flats. The area furthest to the east, or closest to the Town of Brewster, is called Crowes Pasture Beach. In this area the beach starts to expand into large expanses of long rolling sand flats.

Quivett Creek is the coastal stream system that makes up the south-easterly border of the area. The creek system includes a large marsh area, and includes an annual herring run to its headwaters at Bound Brook Pond. The land mass adjacent to Quivett Creek has been identified as a major Marine Water Recharge Area.

These coastal resource areas are highlighted by soil conditions that include high erosion potential, soils which are quite wet in nature and soils that provide limited filtration of septic wastes.

7. Sea View Park

Sea View Park in Dennisport represents a major open space facility in the most densely settled portion of Dennis. The Playland includes an approximate one acre parcel on the southcoast of Dennis. In addition, it contains dune area, vegetated uplands, a freshwater pond and associated bordering vegetated wetlands.

The site consists of three parcels of land that are split by two town roads. It currently contains 17 acres. The most northerly parcel is predominantly wetland area. From a development point of view, this parcel may, at most accommodate two housing units under current Dennis Zoning. The southerly parcel, the beachfront parcel, is about one acre in size. While it too could support one housing unit, its true value would lie as a private beach for the residents of the other parcels of land. The main parcel is about 14 acres in size. This parcel, given its existing road frontage appears to be capable of accommodating at least ten housing units without need for formal subdivision review.

The parcel represented the best opportunity for the town to protect a large expanse of open land in the village of Dennisport during the last Open Space and Recreation Plan update. In 2005, the town acquired these parcels using a combination of Community Preservation, General Fund and State Urban Self-Help Grant funding. The parcel could provide opportunities for natural resource protection as well as active recreational use. The Sea View Park Re-Use Committee has developed a plan for the future of these parcels. The beach parcel has been renamed the Cliff Metcalfe Memorial Beach and continues to be accessed by the parking area located along Chase Avenue. The main portion of the property will be crossed with passive walking trails. There will be small play areas in the northern portion of the property along with a parking area, bathrooms, picnic tables and community gardens.

8. Bass River Park

This property lies on the shore of the Bass River at Route 28. The site is a former miniature golf course, restaurant, boat launch and commercial buildings. In 2005, the town acquired this parcel to protect it from conversion into a high density housing project. The town used Community Preservation, State Urban Self Help Grants and Dennis Conservation Trust funding for this acquisition. The town is working on a re-use plan for the property that will restore the historic waterfront saltmeadow aspects of the site, provide improved public access to the water from the property, and maintain the boat launch on the site for public use.

9. Chase Garden Creek

The Aquaculture Research Center property along the Chase Garden Creek represents a major regional resource for shellfisherman. The property provides a major supply of shellfish seed stock for shellfish stocking programs through-out Barnstable County. The 40 acre parcel owned by the Aquaculture Research Center includes buildings and warehouses geared towards the shellfish industry. The property has been placed on the market and is being explored for residential development. The loss of this facility will have a negative impact on shellfishing not only in Dennis but through-out the Cape Cod region.

G. Environmental Problems

Many of the environmental challenges which Dennis faces are a direct result of its development pace and pattern over the past three hundred years. As described in earlier chapters, the biggest, persistent problems are environmental and public health issues related to wastewater disposal. Despite its high density, which typically is a favorable factor for installing sewers, Dennis continues to rely solely on on-site septic systems. Though most of the town’s soils are highly permeable, there are still failed systems due to overloading, particularly during the summer. Because the soils are highly permeable, nitrates and viruses are readily transmitted off-site to surface waters, particularly ponds and streams, and ground water. There is insufficient depth to ground water on many lots, leading to the design of “mounded” systems, which can be aesthetically displeasing to many people as well as enabling development to go where it otherwise should not. Though the town has made great strides in protecting ground water through regulation and use of the septic treatment plant in Yarmouth since 1992, the potential for continued degradation of the town’s most important natural assets, its waters, will remain.

The environmental problem of the town landfill may soon become an opportunity. The landfill, which has been permanently capped may be reused for recreational purposes, though nothing has been decided as yet.

The use of the navigable waterways is another problem. Space conflicts, lack of adequate shorefront access, inadequate mooring supply, and commercial versus recreational disputes all need to be addressed in addition to water quality problems. The Dennis Engineering Department and Department of Public Works have worked closely with various committees, including the Storm Water Management Sub-Committee of the CWMP to address roadway run-off issues through-out the town.

A third issue relates to the impact of continued development on biodiversity and open space availability in general, since there is no local mechanism for requiring dedication or set-aside of open space to match the amount of lots being developed. Relative to other Cape towns, there are very few potential subdivisions which would exceed 30 acres in size and fall under the purview of the Cape Cod Commission as Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs). Residential DRIs must dedicate 60 percent of the parcel to open space use; commercial DRIs, 40 percent.

Resource management problems include illegal trash dumping in conservation areas; unauthorized off-road vehicle use in conservation areas; upgrading specific facilities; and resident Canada geese fouling the golf courses throughout the year.

Finally, the state requirements for Open Space and Recreation Plans call for an assessment of 21E properties in Dennis. Officially, there are no presently identified 21E properties in town. The only previously mapped location was an old oil company site in Dennisport. This site was restored and given a clean bill of health in early 2008. The site, in Dennisport Village Center, abutted the Dennis VIC Hall. The type of pollution, oil, limited the usefulness of this 21E site for recreational or residential purposes. The property is located in a neighborhood targeted for mixed use development promoting ground floor commercial uses with residential uses above.

Besides this site, there are “potential” 21E issues at any of a number of older automobile repair properties, most notably along Route 28 and Route 6A. However, none of these properties have been inventoried for pollution issues. The Cape Cod Commission has also identified the capped Dennis Land Fill as a “potential” 21E location. Finally, Dennis contains one auto salvage operation which is a “potential” 21E site located on Center Street in Dennisport. This site also has not had any pollution issues specifically identified and is only listed due to the nature of the operations on the site.

23 Nancy Thacher Reid, Dennis, Cape Cod: From Firstcomers to Newcomers 1639-1993, Dennis Historical Society, 1996, p. 73.

24 Geoffrey B. Chandler, University of Massachusetts, Dept. of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Natural and Visual Resources, Dennis, Mass., 1976, p. 50.

25 Robert Oldale, US Geological Survey, “Geologic Map of the Dennis Quadrangle, Barnstable County, Cape Cod, Massachusetts,” 1974, Map GQ-1114.

26 Soil information combined from: Barnstable Conservation District, “Natural Resources Planning Program of the Town of Dennis, Massachusetts, Sites with Natural Resource Development Potentials (no date, 1970s), pp. 8 -15; and,

US Soil Conservation Service, “Barnstable County Massachusetts, Interim Soil Survey Report,” June 1987.

27 Massachusetts Historical Society, “A Description of the Town of Dennis,” in Collections for the Year 1800, (Boston, 1802), p. 134.

27A Cape & Islands Self-Reliance Corp., “The Self Reliance Commentator,” September 1997,

p. 6.

28 J.B. Harrison, “A Report upon the Public Holdings of the Shore Towns of Massachusetts,” in First Annual Report of The Trustees of Public Reservations, 1891, (Boston MA, 1892), p. 43.

29 Massachusetts Dept. of Commerce and Development, “Tidal Shoreline,” 1943.

30 Geoffrey B. Chandler, University of Massachusetts, Dept. of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Natural and Visual Resources, Dennis, Mass., 1976, p. 50.

31 Scenic America, Inc., Washington D.C., 1993.

32 Cape Cod Commission, Old King’s Highway / Route 6A Corridor Management Plan, April 1995, map after p. 56.

33A Cape Cod Commission, “The Cape Cod Coastal Embayment Project,” (final draft: April 1997).

34 Massachusetts Water Resources Commission, Massachusetts Water Laws, 1970, p. 212.

35 The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife inventoried Scargo Lake in 1993 and filed this report:

“This 60 acre (sic) natural kettlehole pond, has an average depth of 25 feet and a maximum depth of 48 feet. Transparency is very good, extending to 16 feet. The bottom is composed of sand and rubble. Aquatic vegetation is scarce. The shoreline is moderately developed with beaches and permanent residences. The pond has an outlet to Sesuit Creek during high water periods.

The pond is located between Route 6A and Scargo Hill Road, and is easily reached off of Route 6A. There are three town landings, all of which are suitable for launching light draft boats and canoes. Two are accessible via dirt roads immediately off Route 6A on the western side, and the remaining one on the northern cove can be reached from an unnamed road off the intersection of Route 6A and Sesuit Neck Road [ed. note: Dr. Bottero Road Ext.]. A 7.5 horsepower limit on outboard motors is enforced by the town.

This pond was reclaimed for trout management in 1956. American eels dominated the fishery at that time. The lake was reclaimed again in 1961. White perch, eels and killifish made up the majority of species recovered. Adult smallmouth bass brood stock were stocked here in 1980.

This pond is managed primarily as a trout water and is stocked in the spring and fall with brook, brown and rainbow trout. It regularly produces some nice holdover trout. Trolling or casting colorful streamers near the surface in the early spring or late fall offers an excellent chance to bag a holdover. Recent stockies will fall for all the usual cast spinners and small spoons, as well as for worms or doughballs suspended from the bottom or surface.”

37 Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, Cape Cod Critical Habitats Atlas, 1990.

36 Original research, The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, Inc., 1997, using town assessing records, land surveys, personal communication from Dennis Dept. of Natural Resources, and, University of Massachusetts, “An Inventory of the Ponds, Lakes and Reservoirs of Massachusetts: Barnstable County,” 1969.

38 quoted in “The Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of Old Yarmouth, Massachusetts, September 1889” (Yarmouth, 1889).

39 Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards, 1990, p. 101. (314 CMR 4.00)

40 Cape Cod Commission, “The Cape Cod Coastal Embayment Project,” (final draft: April 1997).

41 Ibid., p. 63.

42 Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, An Environment at Risk: The First Annual Report on the State of the Massachusetts Environment, April 1990, pp. 84-87.


43 Mass. Coastal Zone Management Office, Memo (unpublished), “Cape Cod Coastal Areas with Habitable Structures within the Designated Flood Velocity Zone,” May 10, 1988.

44 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, “Coastal Submergence Program: Executive Summary,” no date, p.9. (Based on a relative sea rise of 0.45 to 1.57 feet between 1980 and 2025. Recently, the USEPA has suggested using a figure of 1.0 feet, suggesting a typical loss of 280 acres might most likely be expected).

45 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, “Coastal Submergence Program”.

46 MacConnell, William P. et al., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Department of Forestry and Wildlife, “Land Use Update for Cape Cod and the Islands with Area Statistics for 1971, 1984 and 1990.” (See also, 1984 edition for 1951 statistics.)

47 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office, Barrier Beaches, Salt Marshes & Tidal Flats: An Inventory of the Coastal Resources of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1985, p. 6.

48 Sterling, Dorothy, Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, Our Cape Cod Salt Marshes, (Orleans MA, 1976), p. 21.

48a Personal communication, audience member, public hearing on draft Dennis Open Space and Recreation Plan, June 25, 1997.

48b J.B. Harrison, “A Report upon the Public Holdings of the Shore Towns of Massachusetts,” in First Annual Report of The Trustees of Public Reservations, 1891, (Boston MA, 1892), p. 43.

49 Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, Cape Cod Critical Habitats Atlas 1990, Map 8 & 9.

50 Cape Cod Commission, Monomoy Capacity Study: Summary Report, July 1996, p. 92.

51 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Glenn Motzkin, Atlantic White Cedar Wetlands of Massachusetts, 1991, pp. 11.

52 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Glenn Motzkin, Atlantic White Cedar Wetlands of Massachusetts, 1991, pp. 26-31.

53 Personal Communication, George Macdonald, Dennis Natural Resources Director, 1997.

54 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office, Barrier Beaches, Salt Marshes & Tidal Flats: An Inventory of the Coastal Resources of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1985, p. 12.

55 Simeon L. Deyo, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890, p. 507.

56 Cape Cod Commission, Monomoy Lens Groundwater Protection Project, December 1993, p. 21.

57 Cape Cod Commission, Monomoy Lens Groundwater Protection Project, December 1993, p. 49.

58 Sandra L. Harris and Peter A. Steeves, US Geological Survey, “Identification of Potential Public Water-Supply Areas of the Cape Cod Aquifer, Using a Geographic Information System,” Report No. 94-4156, Marlborough, Massachusetts, 1994.

59 Cape Cod Commission, Monomoy Capacity Study: Summary Report, July 1996, Table IV-2.

61 “Mourt’s Relation”, cited in Leona Rust Egan, Provincetown as a stage: Provincetown, The Provincetown Players and the Discovery of Eugene O’Neill, p. 45.

62 “A typical New England household probably consumed as much as thirty or forty cords of firewood per year, which can best be visualized as a stack of wood four feet wide, four feet high, and three hundred feet long; obtaining such a woodpile meant cutting more than an acre of forest each year,” William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, (Hill and Wang, NY) 1983, p. 120.

63 Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, (Norton & Co., New York), 1951, p. 34.

64 Simeon L. Deyo, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890, p. 469-70.

65 Simeon L. Deyo, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890, p. 453.

66 William MacConnell et al, University of Massachusetts, Land Use Update for Cape Cod and the Islands with Area Statistics for 1951, 1971, 1980, 1984 and 1990.

67 Cape Cod Commission, “Route 6A Vegetation Management Plan,” August 1995, p. 18.

68 Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, 1997.

70 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Concept Plan for Preservation of Black Duck,” cited in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Priority Wetlands in New England,” September 1987, p. 55.

71 Massachusetts Audubon Society, “Coastal Waterbird Program Newsletter,” 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994.

72 Richard Veit & Wayne Petersen, Birds of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Audubon Society, 1993.

73 Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Westborough MA.

74 (This author saw a coyote cross Route 6 westbound near Bass River at 4:30 pm on March 23, 1996, blithely ignoring the traffic.)

75 Marine Research, Inc., “Shellfish Management Proposals for Barnstable County, Massachusetts,” 1981, p. 103.

76 Dennis Annual Report, 2006.

77 Massachusetts Historical Society, “A Description of the Town of Dennis,” in Collections for the Year 1800, (Boston, 1802), p. 140.

78 (no author given), Yarmouth – An Historical Inventory, October 1980, p. 64.

79 Massachusetts Historical Commission, Historic and Archæological Resources of Cape Cod and the Islands, April 1987, p. 404.

80 Massachusetts Historical Commission, Historic and Archæological Resources of Cape Cod and the Islands, April 1987, p. 89.

81 Cape Cod Commission, Traffic Counts, 1993. (Average annual figure given; summer counts much higher).

82 Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, “A Study of the Marine Resources of Bass River,” (Boston, January 1975), p. 6.

83 Deyo, 1890, p. 467; Yarmouth – Historical Inventory, October 1980, p. 68.

84 Mass. Historical Commission, 1987, p. 98.

85 Charles F. Swift, Cape Cod: The Right Arm of Massachusetts, An Historical Narrative, (Yarmouth, 1897), p. 295.

86 Atwood & Blackwell, 1965.

87 Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, “A Study of the Marine Resources of Bass River,” (Boston, January 1975), p. 12.

88 Geoffrey B. Chandler, University of Massachusetts, Dept. of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Natural and Visual Resources, Dennis, Mass., 1976, p. 50.

89 Massachsuetts Department of Natural Resources, The Outdoor Recreational Resources of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1963, p. 93.

90 New England Natural Resources Center, “Massachusetts Landscape and Natural Areas Survey,” 1974.

91 Personal communication, David Farimond, Cranberry Marketing Comm., Wareham MA.

92 Personal communication, William Clarke, Barnstable County Extension Agent. (Resource economists use a factor of four for the multiplier effect for cranberry harvests.) Also, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association says Ocean Spray growers receive an average of $65 per barrel, while other growers receive an average of $80 per barrel.

93 Cape Cod Times, “Bogged Down: Federal rules stymie reclamation of abandoned bogs,” January 4, 1997, p. E-4.

Edited July 8, 2009


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