Water & Wetlands

Amherst has tremendous water resources. This includes its many lakes and ponds, wetlands, and aquifers.


Lakes and ponds are both aesthetically pleasing and provide habitat for fish, mammals, amphibians, birds, and insects.


Often under-appreciated are marsh and shrub wetlands, which are rich habitats providing a number of critical ecosystem functions such as flood control, pollutant filtration, erosion control, and wildlife habitat. Marshes are important for fish and amphibian breeding and for waterfowl, and they connect people to habitat through hunting, fishing, tourism, and recreation. Shrub wetlands may seem inhospitable to people, but their dense thickets provide reliable cover from predators for many wildlife species.


Peatlands are wetland ecosystems that contain peat, a spongy organic material formed by partially decayed wetland plants. Typically found in cool climates, peatlands are associated with acidic or stagnant water that is low in oxygen. The water in many peatlands is highly acidic and lacking in nutrients, creating growing conditions for a very distinct group of plants. Examples of these unique ecosystems can be found at Pond Parish and Ponemah Bog.


Aquifers are the underground portion of our hydrologic system. They are the essential source of water for Amherst's residents and must be cared for to ensure they do not become over-exploited, polluted, or inadequately re-charged via healthy natural watersheds.


ACC's role in protecting the town's water and wetlands includes two principle functions. First, it acquires and manages conservation lands that include and protect these resources. Second, it provides input to the Planning Board on development decisions that could affect these resources. In these cases, ACC is guided by town ordinances designed to protect our water and provide transparent guidelines for developers.


Use our Habitats & Trails map to locate and identify wetland habitats in town. You can use this app on your smart phone while hiking.


Also check out citizen science and nature stewardship that takes place, and which you can be a part of, in Amherst's wetlands.