CHATHAM -- Congressman William Keating told town officials Wednesday that he would file legislation to change the western boundary of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge to mean low water.
Selectman Seth Taylor said he and Town Manager Jill Goldsmith met with Keating in his Washington, D.C. office and asked him to file the legislation to roll back what many feel is an overreach by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency's comprehensive conservation plan for the Monomoy Refuge asserts jurisdiction over a 3,000-acre area west of the island, where federal officials say they can veto traditional fishing or other activity if it interferes with the the refuge's mission of protecting nesting shorebirds.
Taylor said Keating's office will work with draft legislation developed for the town by consultant Jeff Pike and file it before congress recesses in two weeks.
Both town and state officials say they have for centuries responsibly overseen the resources in the waters west of Monomoy, and call the plan an overreach of federal authority.
Selectmen feel the best way to address the situation is through a federal law specifying the low tide line as the western boundary. They rejected taking the Fish and Wildlife Service to court over the plan as too costly and time consuming.
This is the second time officials have gone to Washington in recent months specifically to lobby Massachusetts legislators to file the necessary legislation. Taylor said Tuesday the time to file legislation for consideration in the current session is growing short.
“If legislation is to be introduced, it's important to get it done in the next couple of weeks,” he said. With the upcoming political conventions, summer recess and the fall election season, there's not a lot of time remaining in the current session, he explained.
“I feel solidly that we're on the right side of the issue,” Taylor said. While there has been vocal support from Washington, “we're trying to accomplish movement,” he added.