Coastal Natural Community Systems
- The Coastal Natural Community Systems extend from the ocean to the inland limits of tidal influence and salt spray. Community types include dunes, beaches, salt marshes, tidal flats, undeveloped barrier beaches, interdunal swales, maritime rock and erosional cliffs, rocky shores, maritime forest and shrubland, coastal forest, brackish marshes and shrublands, and coastal salt ponds. This data was created by starting with the DEP Wetlands, selecting a new set of just coastal types, and then adding, deleting and changing these polygon shapes and labels based on aerial photo interpretation of the 1999/2000 photos and field information. In areas where this wetland layer did not exist, the wetlands were interpreted and digitized from the aerial photos. Brackish marshes and swamps located along a river system were included in the Riverine community system and not here. Users should add subtidal eelgrass beds from the statewide DEP Eelgrass data layer. The layer is named VCCOASTAL_POLY in ArcSDE. This layer is part of the MassGIS Priority Natural Vegetation Communities dataset, which depicts the distribution of the eight natural community systems identified by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) as most critical to the conservation of the Commonwealth’s biological diversity (Barbour et al., 1998).
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