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Tidal Wetlands Permit Program: Do I Need a Permit?

Threshold of Regulation

Amtrack speeds by Tidal Wetland at Tivoli Bay, Hudson River

Under the Tidal Wetlands Act, DEC administers a permit program regulating activities in tidal wetlands and their adjacent areas. In general, tidal wetlands consist of all the salt marshes, non vegetated as well as vegetated flats and shorelines subject to tides. The adjacent areas (PDF) (78 KB) extend up to 300 feet inland from the wetland boundary (up to 150 feet inland within New York City). DEC requires a permit for almost any activity which will alter wetlands or the adjacent areas. Be aware however, that the United States Army Corps of Engineers also has jurisdiction and a Corps Permit may be required whether or not DEC requires one. See "Jurisdictions of other Agencies".

Regulated Activities

1. Construction, Reconstruction, and/or Expansion of structures


  • Residences and condominiums
  • Accessory structures (tennis courts, swimming pools, decks, garages, etc.)
  • Boat ramps and boat slips
  • Commercial and/or industrial buildings
  • Dams, dikes, weirs
  • Docks, piers, wharves, catwalks, boardwalks
  • Groins, jetties, and breakwaters
  • Bulkheads, sea walls, retaining walls, rip-rap, and gabions
  • Septic systems
  • Roads, driveways, parking lots, bridges, drainage structures

2. Movement of Earth Material


  • Filling, dredge spoil placement, dune building, beach nourishment, clearing or clearcutting (removal of vegetation by bulldozer or other heavy motorized equipment)
  • Dredging
  • Excavation
  • Grading

3. Subdividing of Land

Obtain All Necessary Permits

Beware! Never Start Work Before Obtaining All Necessary Permits.

Avoid Enforcement Action: Failure to obtain all required permits before commencing work subjects you, and any contractors engaged in your work, to DEC enforcement action.

Such action may include:

  1. Civil or criminal court action, or both,
  2. Fines, or
  3. An order to remove structures or materials or perform other remedial action, or
  4. both a fine and an order.

Exempt Activities

Continuation of lawfully existing uses which do not alter lands or, wetlands, and which do not change existing structures in or adjacent to the tidal wetland DO NOT require tidal wetlands permits.

Be careful - Don't interpret this category too broadly.

For example, replacing broken boards on a functional dock does not require a permit, but changing the length, width, or position of the dock does require a permit. Further, work on a structure that has so deteriorated that it is no longer functional, is not exempt from permit requirements.

Unsure? Contact the Department!

If you don't know whether an activity requires a permit, contact your Division of Environmental Permits Regional office before beginning design, engineering, or actual on-site work.

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    Division of Environmental Permits
    4th Floor
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1750

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