DEC Releases Draft Guidance Concerning Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations
On April 12, 2012, DEC released a draft guidance document to aid in the interpretation of terms contained within the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations for installing catwalks and docks. According to DEC, the development of the guidance document is in response to the many challenges involved in managing a program and balancing environmental concerns with developmental pressures. DEC staff typically issue approximately 1,900 tidal wetland permits a year in Nassau and Suffolk counties alone, with docks and catwalks being one of the largest permit items requested.
In the early 1970s, New York State began to recognize the importance of tidal wetland areas and sought to insure their protection from filling and dredging, human activities that had drastically reduced the amount of tidal wetlands in New York by passing the Tidal Wetland Act in 1973. The regulations within 6NYCRR Part 661 of the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations apply anywhere tidal flooding occurs on a daily, monthly or intermittent basis and to upland development in areas adjacent to tidal wetlands. Tidal wetlands line much of the salt water shore, bays, inlets, canals and estuaries of Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. They also line the Hudson River in Westchester and Rockland counties upstream to the salt line.
In 1974 DEC collected a set of aerial infrared photographs of all the tidal wetlands on Long Island and along the lower Hudson River. Using these photographs, DEC established the New York State 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.
The proposed dock guidance provides guidelines for evaluating the compatibility of a project with onsite conditions and to facilitate consistency with permit issuance standards. It provides users with guidelines on issues such as (1) avoidance of impact to valuable habitats, (2) appropriate water depths and methods for determining them, (3) structure use, and (4) minimizing short-term construction impacts. The comment period will close May 9, 2012.