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Drumlins are glacially derived landforms that are prominent in the landscape over much of southern New England. We carried out a comprehensive ground-based survey in a three-town study area in eastern Massachusetts with the goals of establishing the extent to drumlins have been altered and assessing the associated environmental consequences and probable driving factors. Results show that many drumlins have been significantly altered through levelling and truncation (creation of steep cut and fill slopes), with projects involving movement of 1-1.5×106 m3 of earth materials not now uncommon. Stormwater and wetlands infractions were documented at all the larger excavation sites and resulted in enforcement actions and fines in many cases; the broader environmental consequences of the loss/alteration of these forested uplands are harder to establish. The excavations are significant in terms of materials cycling: the movement of earth materials, when considered regionally, greatly exceeds natural denudation processes and is also greater than during other periods of high anthropogenic denudation. Our findings suggest that the region's glacial landscapes are at risk given current development patterns. The accelerating rate of land-surface change is undoubtedly also generalizable to other fast-developing regions of the United States. The landform alterations documented are part of a changing pattern of land use and vegetation cover since the Colonial era and are linked to shortages of land for development, current development and building practices, and lack of explicit rationales for preservation of the region's geoheritage. © 2012 Woodcock et al.

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article, environmental factor, forest, glaciation, land use, landscape, Pleistocene, United States, vegetation, wetland

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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