The Dartmouth Conservation Commission was one of the earliest Commissions in Massachusetts. From 1961 through 1972 the Commission’s time was spent prioritizing open space acquisition, coordinating open space activities with other governmental and non-governmental agencies and performing other tasks related to the protection and enjoyment of open space. In 1972 Conservation Commissions in Massachusetts were assigned the task of administering the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Chapter 131 §40). The Dartmouth Wetlands Protection Bylaw, adopted by the Town in 1980, strengthens aspects of the Wetlands Protection Act for the protection of the Town's natural resources.
While open space protection remains a priority for the Conservation Commission, it is the regulatory function that the Conservation Commission is most identified with by both the general public and other municipal agencies. The provisions of the Wetlands Act and the Wetlands Bylaw combined affords the Conservation Commission the authority to control activities which border upon or are within wetland resource areas to protect the public interests associated with wetlands.