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Great Pond Act in MA


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#1 Naugs31

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Posted January 20 2011 - 7:56 PM

Anyone have the info on this, and how it's terms are reguarding icefishing freshwater ponds? Any info is appreciated. Thx


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#2 bob_G

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Posted January 20 2011 - 9:11 PM

Never heard of it?


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The Sultan of Sluggo

#3 JonFrum

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Posted January 20 2011 - 9:32 PM

Not sure if this is what you mean, but:
Great Pond was a term used by the Colonial government to refer to ponds bigger than 10 acres. One person could own all the land around a pond smaller than 10 acres and keep it private. Ponds larger than 10 acres were called Great Ponds, and in 1647, the public was explicitly allowed access for ' ye fishing and fowling." Later courts decided that 'fishing and fowling' also meant other activities, like watering horses, boating, swimming and bathing.
You still couldn't trespass or otherwise be a nuisance. Roads were generally laid out to access the water in at least one point where possible for public benefit. Ice fishing would certainly fit under 'fishing and fowling.' Public access can be regulated, but as far as I know the law still stands. Homeowners around a Great Pond do not own the pond - the public does.


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There are no fish in the Canal. In fact, there is no Canal.

#4 robc22

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Posted January 20 2011 - 9:52 PM

Good post jon..........


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#5 Naugs31

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Posted January 20 2011 - 9:54 PM

Thx that does help me somewhat. Where could I find the printout on that?


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#6 bob_G

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Posted January 20 2011 - 10:27 PM

This is the first I've ever heard of this.


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#7 robc22

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Posted January 20 2011 - 10:30 PM

yes I have heard of this in the past......maine has very similar laws....the pond/lake has to be 10 acres or more.........


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#8 JonFrum

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Posted January 20 2011 - 10:41 PM

Thx that does help me somewhat. Where could I find the printout on that?


I found out about it when researching local history in Jamaica Plain - there was a court case over a company taking ice out of Jamaica Pond during the winter. The ice company won against the town.
Here's what I used: Town of West Roxbury vs Stoddard
Here's my summary I wrote in an article: Jamaica Pond court case.
I believe all state laws are available online, but it takes some digging to find what you want.


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There are no fish in the Canal. In fact, there is no Canal.

#9 JonFrum

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Posted January 20 2011 - 10:56 PM

I found this online: http://law.onecle.co...tts/131/45.html
You can go to the bottom of the page and browse through all the different pages.


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There are no fish in the Canal. In fact, there is no Canal.

#10 Mike J.

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Posted January 20 2011 - 11:24 PM

It's part of the 1640's act which gives us rights to fish and fowl upon the tidal waters and great ponds within the commonwealth. The state DEP has a listing of recognized great ponds in MA on thier website. I believe that access to a great pond entirely surrounded by private property can only be across unimproved property. Doesn't apply to drinking water supply's.

Google "MGL great ponds"

HOA's around some ponds and lakes have been fighting this right in court lately.


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#11 slacktide

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Posted January 21 2011 - 12:35 AM

As posted above all natural great ponds can be accessed over unimproved land. Some ponds are manmade and this law does not apply. If a dam enlarged a pond the law does not apply.


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#12 JTR

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Posted January 21 2011 - 5:44 PM

There is some type of provision that allows people to request public access to great ponds if there is no real access at all. All you need is 10 people and a reason why the general public needs access to any specific great pond. Fishing and fowling would most likely be just cause to request access.


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#13 robc22

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Posted January 21 2011 - 6:09 PM

There is some type of provision that allows people to request public access to great ponds if there is no real access at all. All you need is 10 people and a reason why the general public needs access to any specific great pond. Fishing and fowling would most likely be just cause to request access.

Great post......This is good stuff more anglers should know..........


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#14 Mike J.

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Posted January 22 2011 - 1:16 AM

There is some type of provision that allows people to request public access to great ponds if there is no real access at all. All you need is 10 people and a reason why the general public needs access to any specific great pond. Fishing and fowling would most likely be just cause to request access.


Google: wyman pond westminster ma petition for access

select the article by the Worcester Telegram.

Pisses me of that a HOA can restrict public access on a pond that is stocked by the state with trout.


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#15 Plug and teaser

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Posted January 22 2011 - 8:43 AM

Most of my business is working on summer homes around a Private Great Pond.
It's fairly small, Jon boat,Canoe size, no gas motors for anyone including the owners.
They provide a good access point with ample parking, in the winter they keep the parking plowed for all. They even have signs directing you to a wash down area for the invasive weed problem.
In return they get beer cans coffee cups and trash of all kinds that the caretaker has to pick up.
In the winter when there isn't many people around the ice fisherman drive down private trails and unload and cut through peoples lots to save walking time. Firewood piles are raided, docks boxes where people keep the electric motors etc. have been robbed, I could go on but you get the point.
It's a good law, but the lack of common scene from some never ceases to amaze me.
This group would ban access if they could but they follow the law and do it right.
But they are Politically connected and have unlimited resources for a fight, if things don't improve I'm not sure what will happen.


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