Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.
How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by New York? New York regulates the use of wetlands under the Freshwater Wetlands Act. While the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) administers the Act, the act envisions that local governments institute their own freshwater wetland laws, which at a minimum, should establish procedures that comply with the state act. The DEC may issue a §401 water quality certification for proposed projects that impact state wetlands.
Wetlands. Fresh water wetlands means lands and waters of the state shown on the freshwater wetlands map which contain (a) land and submerged lands commonly called marshes, swamps, sloughs, bogs, and flats supporting aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation; (b) lands and submerged lands containing remnants of any vegetation that is not aquatic or semi-aquatic that has died because of wet conditions over a sufficiently long period, provided that such wet conditions do not exceed a maximum seasonal water depth of six feet and provided further that such conditions can be expected to persist indefinitely; (c) lands and waters substantially enclosed by aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation or by dead vegetation , which require regulation to protect and preserve the aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation; waters overlying the areas set forth in paragraphs (a), (b), and the lands underlying (c ). New York's freshwater wetlands map only contains individual freshwater wetlands that are at least twelve and four-tenths acres or more in area, or if less than this size, have unusual local importance or are located within the Adirondack Park and meet the definition of wetlands.
Regulated Wetland Activities. Any person wishing to perform regulated activities on freshwater wetlands must obtain a permit. Regulated activities include any form of draining, dredging, excavation, removal of soil, mud, sand, shells, gravel or other aggregate from any freshwater wetland, either directly or indirectly. The building of any structures, roads, the driving of pilings, or the placing of any other obstructions is regulated, regardless if they do or do not alter water flow. Pollution, installing a septic tank, running a sewer outfall, discharging sewer treatment effluent or other liquid wastes into wetlands or to drain wetlands is subject to government approval. Furthermore, specific activities that substantially impair the functions served by wetlands or the benefits derived from them require a permit, whether or not they occur on the actual wetland affected.
Exempt Wetland Activities. The following activities are not covered by the act: activities in wetlands less than 12.4 acres; normal agricultural activities, except filling; recreational activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, camping, and picnicking; continuing lawfully existing land-uses; routine maintenance of existing structures or buildings; selectively cutting trees and harvesting firewood, but not clear-cutting trees or wetland vegetation.
Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.
Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.
Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.
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