For Immediate Release: 1/3/2024
Contact: Lori Severino | (518) 402-8000
DEC SEEKS INPUT ON PROPOSAL TO FURTHER PROTECT FRESHWATER WETLANDS
Public Comments on New York State’s ‘Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ will Guide Development of New Wetland Regulations
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged New Yorkers to review and comment on the development of proposed regulations that would further protect freshwater wetlands statewide. DEC released the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to begin developing regulations to implement the new law that expands the number of wetlands regulated by DEC to further protect water quality and wildlife habitat.
“Wetlands are critical environmental and economic resources that protect water quality, provide essential habitats, mitigate flooding, and promote the resilience of New York’s communities,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Through Governor Hochul’s leadership, this new law is greatly enhancing the state’s stringent freshwater wetland protections already in place, and I encourage New Yorkers to review this initial proposal and provide input to help DEC develop regulations that will modernize protections of wetlands and ensure the long-term health of these vital ecosystems.”
Freshwater wetlands are lands and submerged lands, commonly called marshes, swamps, sloughs, bogs, and flats, that support aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation. New York’s Freshwater Wetlands Act was enacted in 1975 to regulate activities near larger wetlands, greater than 12.4 acres, and smaller wetlands considered to be of unusual local importance.
Consistent with Governor Kathy Hochul’s commitment to protecting New York’s wetlands, the 2022-23 Budget included significant improvements to the State’s wetlands protection program, safeguarding an estimated one million additional acres of unprotected wetland habitat and helping New York adapt to increased flooding and severe storms fueled by climate change.
Starting in January 2025, the scope of regulated smaller wetlands of “unusual importance” will be expanded to wetlands that meet one of 11 specific criteria in order to provide additional fish and wildlife habitat and to protect communities from flooding. The ANPR seeks feedback on the potential criteria that will be used to classify these newly protected wetlands.
The purpose of this ANPR is to solicit stakeholder input through written comment so that DEC can refine potential changes to 6 NYCRR Part 664 as part of a future rulemaking. The ANPR is arranged into eight sections that correspond to specific areas where DEC is seeking feedback. In addition, the advanced notice contains a draft of the potential regulatory updates that DEC is considering. DEC staff are seeking answers to specific questions, as well as general comments and suggestions on the potential updates. Input on the ANPR will help develop a regulatory proposal that will go out for public review and comment later this year.
Comments can be submitted by Feb. 19, 2024 via email to WetlandRegulatoryComments@dec.ny.gov (subject: “ANPR Freshwater Wetlands Protection”) or sent to Bureau of Ecosystem Health, Freshwater Wetlands Unit, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4756.