(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service, holds Stewardship Saturdays throughout the year where volunteer park stewards work on citizen science projects, including waterbird monitoring, insect and invertebrate identification, invasive marine species identification, and phenology monitoring. Citizen Scientists, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreational Area Massachusetts, Nat’l Park Serv., (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

State Project(s):

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (“MassWildlife”) offers opportunities for bowhunters and game bird hunters to submit hunting logs of observed wildlife, and opportunities for the general public to submit observations of roadkill, wild turkeys, vernal pools, and bat colonies. Citizen Science: Wildlife Observation, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife,, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019

Collection of Information:

Ag-Gag Law:

“Whoever enters any premises in which animals are being housed . . . and, without authority, injures, damages, commits any trespass upon, removes or carries away any data, equipment, facility or property . . . shall, if such injury, damage, trespass, removal, carrying away, interference or release is malicious and wilful, be punished [by a maximum of ten years in prison or $25,000 and two and one-half years jail] or if such injury, damage, trespass, removal, carrying away, interference or release is wilful but not malicious, be punished [by a maximum of five years imprisonment or $5,000 and two and one-half years jail].”  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 104B. 

Research Permit:

A special use permit is required to “[c]onduct research which may damage, disturb or remove any [Department of Conservation and Recreation] property or resource, real, natural, personal, cultural or historic.” 302 Mass. Code Regs. 12.04(28)(h); see also Apply for a Research Permit,, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  In order to be guilty of trespass “in or upon the dwelling house, buildings, boats or improved or enclosed land, wharf, or pier of another,” a person must “hav[e] been forbidden so to do . . . whether directly or by notice posted thereon . . . .”  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 120.

Trespass against Water Sources:

Trespass against “any public source of water or public water supply facilities or land” carries a heightened monetary fine of not less than $250 and not more than $1000.  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 123A(a). 

Other Provisions:

See supra “Ag-Gag Law.”

Drone Laws:

State Parks:

A special use permit is required to “[o]perate or use any…noise producing devices, such as … equipment driven by motor or engine…[or] [e]xcept in an emergency, bring, take off, land or cause to descend on [Department of Conservation and Recreation] property any …so-called ultra-light aircraft, or any other apparatus.” 302 Mass. Code Regs. 12.04(28)(e) & (g).

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking ….  The conduct, acts or threats described in this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted by … electronic communication device including, but not limited to, any device that transfers signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system[.]”  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 43(a).

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, this provision could be construed to allow the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s internal guidelines require the agency to use volunteer-gathered water quality monitoring data, which must meet the following criteria: 1) monitoring is conducted under an approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (“QAPP”); 2) samples are analyzed by a certified laboratory; and 3) information is documented in a citable report. Water Quality Monitoring For Volunteers, Mass. Dep’t of Envtl Protection, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “there is a good ground to support” the claim.  Mass. R. Civ. P. 11(a).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”  Mass. R. Evid. 901(a).

Expert Testimony:

Massachusetts Rule of Evidence 702 and the Daubert-Lanigan standard (i.e., general acceptance within the relevant scientific community).  See Palandjian v. Foster, 446 Mass. 100, 107 (2006) (“This court adopted the basic reasoning of Daubert in [Lanigan], although we suggested that general acceptance in the relevant scientific community likely would remain the most important factor in determining reliability.”); Com. v. Lanigan, 419 Mass. 15, 26 (1994) (“We accept the basic reasoning of the Daubert opinion because it is consistent with our test of demonstrated reliability.”). 


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.