Heritage Landscape Atlas Glossary

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Actions Taken/Year Implemented

A place to indicate what recommended actions from the Reconnaissance Report have been implemented by communities in order to protect and preserve this heritage landscape, and when they were done. This will be updated as information is provided to DCR.

Agricultural Landscapes

Landscapes that are in current active agricultural use, or landscapes that are no longer actively farmed but still retain some of the elements of their agricultural past, such as open fields and pastures, paddocks, or barns. A wide variety of types of agriculture flourish in Massachusetts, including dairy, market gardening, tobacco, orchards and cranberry bogs.

Agriculture Commissions

Agricultural Commissions represent the farming community, encourage the pursuit of agriculture, promote agriculture-based economic opportunities and work to protect and sustain agricultural businesses and farmland. Agricultural Commissions are a standing committee of town government, created through a vote at Town Meeting and appointed by the Board of Selectmen or governing body of the town.

Archaeological Landscapes

The remaining cultural resources in these landscapes are archaeological and are not just pre-contact in nature - these can include Native American settlement sites, cellarholes, wells, and mill remnants.


John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Designated a heritage corridor in 1986, this unit of the National Park Service is focused on the protection, promotion and interpretation of the American Industrial Revolution in 24 communities in the Blackstone River Valley in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Burial Landscapes

These landscapes can include everything from large, designed cemeteries to picturesque 18th century town burial grounds to small family plots.

Civic Landscapes

Landscapes that focus upon municipally owned buildings, structures and open space, such as village centers that contain a common, a town hall, and a library, or a historic school and its playing fields, or a town pound.


Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission. The designated regional planning agency for 40 communities in Central Massachusetts.

Commercial Landscapes

The focus of these landscapes is on structures or areas that serve a commercial function, such as a central business district comprised of a downtown streetscape of stores, offices and restaurants, or a small freestanding roadside diner.


Community Preservation Act. [see also this website] The statewide enabling legislation that provides a mechanism for communities that adopt the act locally to fund historic preservation, open space protection and affordable housing through a local property tax surcharge.

Demolition Delay Bylaw

A property owner requesting a demolition permit from the Building Department must first receive approval from the Historical Commission. If the Historical Commission determines that the building is preferably preserved, a delay period is imposed. The delay period provides a window of opportunity to consider other alternatives to the demolition of the building. Most demolition delay bylaws in Massachusetts are for six months. However, the Massachusetts Historical Commission encourages communities to pursue a 12 month demolition delay period as this is far more effective than 6 months.

Designed Landscapes

Planned and laid out using a recognized style or tradition of landscape architecture. Examples can include estates, parks, cemeteries, institutional grounds, planned communities, parkways and campuses.


Essex National Heritage Area. Designated a national heritage area in 1996 to promote and protect the cultural and natural resources in the 34 communities of Essex County, Masachusetts. The Essex National Heritage Commission, a companion private non-profit entity, manages the heritage area.

Ethnographic Landscapes

Collections of resources regarded as culturally associated with a particular group of people. Examples can include archaeological sites, religious complexes, and settlements associated with a specific ethnic or cultural group.


Franklin Regional Council of Governments. The designated regional planning agency for the 26 communities in Franklin County, Massachusetts.


Freedom's Way Heritage Association. A non-profit organization working on obtaining federal recognition and the designation of a national heritage area covering 34 communities in North-Central Massachusetts and 6 communities in New Hampshire. The legislation to designate this a National Heritage Area was passed by the Senate in January, 2009, and sent to the House.

Heritage Landscape Inventory

The Heritage Landscape Inventory (HLI) is a program managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation that works with communities and regional partners to help them identify and plan for the protection of their heritage landscapes.

Heritage Landscape Inventory Partners

Regional organizations that have partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation to bring the Heritage Landscape Inventory program to communities in their region that are selected through an application process.

Click an acronym for more detail about each partner: [ BRV | CMRPC | ENHA | FRCOG | FWHA | NQRLP | Pilot Project | PVPC | QS | TRWSSC ]

Heritage Landscapes

Heritage landscapes are those special places and spaces that help define the character of our communities and reflect their past. Geographic areas that contain both natural and cultural resources, they are the result of human interaction with the environment, which influence the use and development of land. Heritage landscapes are also called cultural landscapes or historic landscapes.

Historic Designation

A place to indicate if there is an official historic designation - such as a National Register listing or district or a Local Historic District - for some or all of the heritage landscape.

Historic Sites

Landscapes that derive their importance from an association with an historic event, activity, or person. Examples include battlefields, birthplaces of important people, and traditional meeting grounds.

Industrial Landscapes

Landscapes that include buildings and infrastructure that are actively (or formerly) functioning as industrial resources, ranging from large multi-story mill or factory complexes complete with power canals, to working waterfront areas, small sawmills, quarries and mines.

Institutional Landscapes

Institutional landscapes are resources that are affiliated with private or public entities that focus on providing services to people, such as religious facilities or school campuses, hospital buildings and grounds, camp complexes and museums.

Landscape ID#

A unique identifier that has been assigned to a Priority Landscape for the purposes of maintaining the data for the Heritage Landscape Atlas. This ID does not correspond to anything outside of this Atlas.

Local Historic District

A Local Historic District (LHD) offers the strongest form of protection available for historic resources. Statewide enabling legislation, M.G.L. Chapter 40C, is adopted locally to recognize special areas within a community where the distinctive characteristics of buildings - and their settings - are preserved. LHDs are administered by a Local Historic District Commission that reviews proposed changes according to the terms of the local bylaw.


MassGIS is the Commonwealth's Office of Geographic and Environmental Information, within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). MassGIS maintains the Commonwealth's comprehensive, statewide database of spatial information, and they provide the data and web services that are behind this web map.

Military Landscapes

Landscapes that were the site of an actual battle, or once served a military based function such as a fort, a costal defense feature, a Nike missile site, or a training ground.

National Heritage Area or Corridor

A place designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally-distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These areas tell nationally important stories and are representative of the national experience through both the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved within them. There are currently four designated National Heritage Areas in Massachusetts, and a fifth one seeking designation.

National Register of Historic Places

Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register (NR) recognizes everything from individual properties to large districts for their historic significance, physical integrity, and contributions to broad patterns of our history. Listing on the NR does not provide protection, but any projects involving state or federal licensing, funding or permitting are reviewed for their potential impacts to NR listed resources. NR listed properties are eligible for some grants and tax credit programs.

Natural Landscapes

Landscapes that are natural resource based that have helped to physically shape the community in some way - they are valued for the function that they serve, and the access to natural resources that they provide to residents and visitors. Examples include rivers, ponds, beaches and forested areas.


North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership. An initiative of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the partnership works to identify, protect, and enhance significant open space within the North Quabbin region.


Photographs taken from an airplane that have been orthorectified to display correctly in the map's coordinate system. MassGIS orthophotos are generally flown in April, before trees leaf out.

Other Landscapes

These are landscapes that are difficult to classify as any of the other landscape types, either because they consist largely of a viewing spot and a viewshed of a wide disparate area, or because their local significance is derived from personal attachments that residents have to a place that are experientially based and are not necessarily obvious to outside visitors.

Permanently Protected Open Space

Legally protected in perpetuity and recorded as such in a deed or other official document. Land is considered protected in perpetuity if it is owned by a municipality, a state conservation agency, or a non-profit land trust. Protection is also achieved through deed restrictions placed on the land in perpetuity including conservation restrictions, agricultural preservation restrictions, and preservation restrictions. The data shown is land coded as being protected in perpetuity in MassGIS' Protected and Recreational OpenSpace datalayer. This datalayer is considered to be under development, and the accuracy and completeness of the data varies. The "% of town that is permanently protected open space" figure was simply calculated by dividing the total area of permanently protected open space (as of October 2008) for each town by that town's total area, from the MassGIS Survey Towns dataset.

Pilot Project

The Heritage Landscape Inventory began with a Pilot Project, working with 15 communities in three adjoining watersheds in Southeast Massachusetts. The primary products of the Pilot project were Massachusetts Historical Commission inventory forms and the program guidebook, Reading the Land.


Population figures are from the year 2000 U.S. Census.

Population Density

Population Density (population per square mile) was simply calculated by dividing the U.S. Census 2000 population for each town by that town's total square mileage, from the MassGIS Survey Towns dataset.

Preservation Restriction

Preservation Restrictions protect significant historic properties or archaeological sites from changes that may compromise the integrity of these resources and their settings. Requiring approval by both the municipality and the MHC, a PR is a legally binding agreement that restricts present and future owners from altering features or changing the appearance of a building, structure or site, and from engaging in uses or other activities inappropriate to the property.

Primary Landscape Category

Heritage landscapes can be broken down into four major landscape categories: Designed Landscapes, Ethnographic Landscapes, Historic Sites, and Vernacular Landscapes. The primary landscape category indicated is the one that best reflects the kinds of resources within the heritage landscape.

Primary Landscape Type

Heritage landscapes can be broken down into 14 general types - and given the range of resources that can exist within a single heritage landscape, there may be multiple types present. The primary type selected here represents either the overall underlying theme of the landscape or the majority of the resources that are present and of concern in this landscape. The types are: Agricultural landscapes, Archaeological landscapes, Burial landscapes, Civic landscapes, Commercial landscapes, Ethnographic landscapes, Industrial landscapes, Institutional landscapes, Military landscapes, Natural landscapes, Other landscapes, Recreation/Open Space landscapes, Residential landscapes, and Transportation landscapes.

Primary Landscape Sub-type

Landscapes can be broken down more specifically within each of the 14 general types to classify them by the type(s) of resources within them. The primary sub-type selected here represents the most appropriate classification of the landscape or the majority of the most significant or threatened resources in this landscape.

NHESP Priority Habitat

Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP)'s Priority Habitats of Rare Species datalayer represents the geographic extent of habitat of state-listed rare species.

Priority Landscapes

The landscapes that were selected as the highest priority in the community by participants at the public local identification meeting. These priority landscapes are the focus of the fieldwork and the specific planning recommendations provided in the Reconnaissance Reports. Selection criteria for prioritization include significance, integrity, threat, public access and connectivity to each other and to other protected landscapes. NOTE: priority landscapes are NOT necessarily open to the public.


Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The designated regional planning agency for the 43 communities in Hampden and Hampshire counties of Massachusetts.


Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor. Designated in 1994, and enlarged in 1999, this heritage corridor spans 35 communities in Northeast Connecticut and South-Central Massachusetts. The Last Green Valley, Inc. is a companion private non-profit entity that manages the heritage corridor.

Recommended Actions

Actions that were recommended in the Reconnaissance Report for the community to pursue to protect and preserve this heritage landscape. Any actions that have been taken are noted in the Actions Taken/Year Implemented section.

Reconnaissance Report

The final product for each community that participates in the HLI is a Reconnaissance Report, documenting all of the landscapes that were identified, with a discussion of the landscapes that were determined to be a high priority and associated planning recommendations.

Recreation/Open Space Landscapes

These are landscapes that provide recreational opportunities to residents, such as a park or fairgrounds, or are large areas of land that are valued for their lack of development. Keep in mind that areas now considered as open space may once have been developed and may contain cultural resources, such as stone walls and cellarholes.

Regional Planning Agency

Massachusetts has been divided into 13 geographic areas that are served by Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs). These entities are charged with regional planning efforts, most visibly in regional and local transportation planning, and also provide technical assistance to municipalities. MassGIS maintains this datalayer. The state's list of RPAs is here.

Residential Landscapes

Landscapes that focus on homes or neighborhoods and reflect the residential settlement patters of a community. These can range from industrial mill villages with rows of worker housing, to early 20th century streetcar neighborhoods, to prominent homes or estates with designed landscapes or gardens.

Right-To-Farm Bylaw

This bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within a town by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies.

Roads Data

The roads shown on this map are from MassGIS' EOT Roads datalayer. The appearance of the roads will change at different scales as you zoom in.

Scenic Landscape Inventory

The 1981 inventory of scenic landscapes throughout the Commonwealth was completed by the former Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to guide acquisition and conservation efforts. The methodology employed a culturally oriented approach with a visual assessment, classifying land into three categories: Distinctive (areas of highest visual quality), Noteworthy (areas of lesser, but nevertheless important, visual quality) and Common (areas that may contain smaller sections of scenic quality but lack consistently high levels). Different criteria for each category were defined for different regions throughout the state. The Scenic Landscape Inventory is still used as a benchmark today for land conservation efforts. A GIS datalayer of the Inventory is held by MassGIS; its metadata page is here. In 2012 DCR improved the spatial and attribute accuracy of the datalayer.

State Register of Historic Places

Administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the State Register of Historic Places (SRHP) was created to serve as a master list of designated historic properties in the Commonwealth and to provide an added measure of protection to these properties. Properties are included on the State Register if they are: listed in or determined eligible for listing in the NRHP; within local historic districts; local, state, and national landmarks; state archaeological landmarks; or properties with preservation restrictions. MHC recently released datasets (points and areas) and a web map to show the data where it is available. If you want to see detailed information about individual points or areas you can visit their web map. The MHC State Register Town Status layer highlights towns that do not have complete data yet.

Total # of Heritage Landscapes

The number of heritage landscapes that were identified in this community through the public local identification meeting process of the HLI. All of these landscapes are included in the appendix of the Reconnaissance Report. Only Priority Landscapes (a fraction of the total number of heritage landscapes) appear on the interactive map.

Transparency Issues

Some older web browsers, like Internet Explorer 6, do not support the kind of transparent images that this map uses. If you are using Internet Explorer 6, some of the map layers will be made semi-transparent to adjust for the lack of true transparency. Unfortunately, the general appearance of the map will be less attractive due to the low-quality transparency used, and colors may not match the colors in the legend. Upgrading to the excellent FireFox web browser (or a newer version of Internet Explorer) is recommended.

Transportation Landscapes

Landscapes that are focused upon elements that are transportation based, such as scenic roads, bridges, canals, railroad corridors and associated infrastructure.


Taunton River Wild & Scenic Study Committee. A group of regional and local advocates that formed to pursue a Wild & Scenic River designation for the Taunton River.

Vernacular Landscapes

Landscapes that reflect everyday lives and activities. Examples include industrial areas, agricultural landscapes, town centers, coastal resources, and residential neighborhoods.

Water Features

The hydrography data (ponds, streams, and wetlands) shown on this map are from MassGIS' MassDEP Hydrography (1:25,000 - formerly USGS Hydrography) and DEP Wetlands (1:12,000) datalayers. The layers will be displayed only at certain zoom levels, with the 1:12,000 data shown when the orthophoto is visible, and the 1:25,000 data shown when zoomed further out. Several wetland types are shown as a single symbol for simplicity.

Year Surveyed

The year that the Heritage Landscape Inventory program completed the reconnaissance survey process with this community - unless an update is noted, the information in the atlas is from this year.