Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that she intends to file suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm the state's ownership of thousands of acres of submerged lands bordering the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.
“Communities in Massachusetts have led the country in protecting marine ecosystems while supporting a modern and robust fishing and shellfishing industry,” Healey wrote in a news release. “After more than 70 years of uncontested ownership and maintenance of the submerged land and the waters above them in Nantucket Sound, we are taking this effort to reaffirm our commitment to protect these valuable Cape habitats for future generations.”
On March 31, 2016, the federal government finalized a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Monomoy, where it claimed to own and control not only the 3,599 acres of land above the low water line that it has historically managed, but also an additional 4,005 acres of submerged land and the open waters in Nantucket Sound that is not part of the National Wildlife Refuge. The federal government’s claim appeared for the first time in 2014, following 72 years of undisputed stewardship and ownership of these lands by the state.
“I’m very happy that the Attorney General is moving forward to defend the state’s interest in the waters west of Monomoy Island,” said State Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). “It is unconscionable to me that the federal Fish and Wildlife Agency, with the mere swipe of the pen, can usurp state and local interest in this area.”