On October 9, 2009, DEC announced the availability of a new set of draft guidance documents to assist the public and DEC in the preparation and review of tidal wetlands permits. DEC developed these guidance documents to help in addressing the many challenges involved in balancing environmental concerns with development pressures. These draft guidance documents clarify and interpret some of the terminology used to evaluate tidal wetlands permit applications, as well as provide guidance on average setback, shoreline structure replacement and maintenance dredging.
New York State recognized the importance of tidal wetlands and sought to ensure their protection by passing the Tidal Wetland Act in 1973. Tidal wetlands line much of the saltwater shore, bays, inlets, canals, and estuaries of Long Island, New York City, and Westchester County. T hey also line the Hudson River in Westchester and Rockland counties, upstream to the salt line. With the increased concerns about climate change and sea level rises, tidal wetlands will increasingly be important in protecting property and human lives from the impacts of coastal flooding and extreme events such as hurricanes.
Beginning in 1974, DEC established the official Tidal Wetlands Inventory - a set of maps delineating and classifying all the tidal wetlands in New York. These maps are used by DEC and other municipal agencies to control and manage the development, filling and dredging of areas in and around New York’s tidal wetlands. Areas adjacent to tidal wetlands often carry many of the same or similar critical attributes and, in addition, provide a valuable buffer for the wetlands. For that reason, the adjacent buffer area is also protected under the Tidal Wetlands Act. DEC’s maps provide the public with information about where protected wetlands and buffer areas are found, enabling landowners and local governments to plan accordingly. In addition to the maps, the proposed guidance documents will help enhance the public’s understanding of tidal wetland regulations.
DEC is also actively developing additional guidance documents for the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations. These are slated for public release in early 2010. The current tidal wetlands regulations are available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/2485.html.