Conservation Commission orders Marion Golf Club to restore protected wetland

Aug 2, 2022

MARION — The Marion Golf Club has been ordered to replant and reflag a protected wetland area after clearing vegetation area without a permit, the town’s Conservation Commission reported during its July 27 meeting. 

According to commission member Shaun Walsh, the Marion Golf Club used “heavy machinery” to clearcut undergrowth in the protected area, and vegetation was, “completely mowed down to the ground.”

The protected areas are located in forested patches between North and West drives, which are categorized as “wooded swamp deciduous” by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 

The club was working on an approved forestry project when it cut into wetlands vegetation, the commission said. According to the commission, flags marking the wetland areas were removed during forestry work. 

The enforcement order, which was passed unanimously by the commission during its June 8 meeting, required that Marion Golf Club file a plan to restore native vegetation by June 23 and reflag wetland areas by June 19. 

A restoration plan submitted in response to the enforcement order was rejected by the commission during a July 13 meeting.

Walsh stated that the plan “doesn’t indicate anywhere where this mitigation planting will occur [or] what species are going to be planted.”

During the Wednesday, July 27 meeting, the commission outlined the next steps that should be taken by LEC, an environmental consulting firm contracted by the club. These steps include identifying areas of the property that need to be replanted and restored.

“Any areas that were disturbed in the resource areas or off the resource areas for which there was no permit, that needs to be [restored],” explained Commission Chair Jeff Doubrava. 

According to Brian Madden, a senior wildlife and wetland scientist from LEC, the wetland areas were reflagged as of July 20. Doubrava added that he would like to see “permanent demarcation” of the club’s wetlands areas so that this doesn’t happen again.

Still, even without human intervention, some progress has been made toward restoring the protected areas since June, Madden said. 

“Everything that was cut, it's regrowing right now,” he said. “Obviously, we're in a drought, but from what I saw, most of the areas are reestablishing successfully.” Madden went on to say, “we can certainly continue to monitor and assess.”

A representative of the Marion Golf Club reached after the meetings declined to comment. 

Next steps call for LEC and Marion Golf Club to submit an updated restoration plan to the commission during the week of Aug. 15.