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Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Permit Program: Application Procedures

Uniform Procedures

Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie

The procedures and schedules for applications for rivers system permits are governed by Article 70 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) and its implementing regulations contained in 6NYCRR Parts 621 and 624. An application for a permit will be filed by the applicant with the Regional Permit Administrator on a form prescribed by the Department. Click down-loadable application form in the table of links to the left of this text, or write or call your regional "DEC Permits" office.

Application Checklist for Wild, Scenic And Recreational River Systems

Required items include:

  1. The Joint Application Form (PDF) (548 KB) and Instructions for completing the Joint Application Form (PDF) (311 KB) are available on the Department's website page.
  2. The Permission to Inspect Property Form (PDF) (25 KB) is available on the Department's website page.
  3. The Joint Application Form Supplement WSR-1 (PDF) (1 MB) - Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers are available on the Department's website page.
  4. Location Map. A US Geological Survey (USGS) Quadrangle Map, or equivalent, identifying the project location.
  5. Project Plans.
    • Provide plans and/or drawings of the proposed project. Engineering drawings are preferred. Sketch plans drawn to scale are acceptable.
    • Show project area dimensions and the location of all existing and proposed structures roadways, signs, wastewater systems and water supplies, and identify the lot boundary and the river.
    • Show the distance to the river as well as to natural features such as other water bodies, forested areas and steep slopes.
  6. Photographs. Provide at least two photographs (Indicate the view shown, and the date and time of day that the pictures were taken):
    • One of the project site taken from the river.
    • One of the river taken from the project site.
    • Other appropriately labeled photographs of the site and river area that show important features of the property would aid in the review of the application, and may be submitted with the application.
  7. Other information.
    • A detailed description of the regulated activity, and a description of the planned use of the subject property once the proposed regulated activity is completed.
    • A statement addressing feasible alternatives which do not affect river resource values or on a site not regulated by the Wild Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act.
    • Additional information as the Regional Permit Administrator deems necessary to enable the department to make the required findings and determinations. For example, the applicant may be required to submit a list of the names of the owners of lands adjacent to the subject property upon which the regulated activity is to be undertaken.
  8. Variances. For projects which require a variance, a detailed variance request as specified in Part 666.
  9. Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).
    • In accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), an application is not complete until a properly completed environmental assessment form has been submitted, a lead agency has been established, and a negative declaration or a conditioned negative declaration has been filed or a draft environmental impact statement has been accepted by the lead agency.
    • Refer to the Department's SEQR website page for additional information on environmental impact assessment.
    • SEQR Forms are available on the Department's website page.
      • If the project is an Unlisted Action, submit a completed Part 1 of a Short Environmental Assessment Form.
      • If the project is a Type I Action, submit a completed Part 1 of a Full Environmental Assessment Form.
  10. Structural / Archaeological Assessment Form (SAAF).
    • In accordance with the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA), the application is not complete until a determination has been made concerning the impact of the project on properties listed on or eligible for listing on the State or National Register of Historic Places.
    • Submit a completed Structural Archaeological Assessment Form (PDF) (905 KB), available on the Department's website page. In some cases, a cultural resource survey, including a field study of archaeological or historic features may be needed.

Pre-Application Assistance

The Department strongly recommends that you schedule a pre-application conference for complex multi-residential, commercial and industrial projects. This serves as a forum allowing the applicant to explain the proposed project to DEC and to get preliminary answers to questions concerning:

  • project plans,
  • application procedures,
  • wetland and adjacent area boundaries when applicable,
  • minimum flows and fish protection and passage at hydropower projects,
  • performance standards for stream crossings and wetland incursions of transmission lines and other constructions,
  • standards for permit issuance.

Matters concerning the water quality certificate should be raised during the initial public meeting that commences the initial stage of consultation for a federally licensed hydropower project.

To schedule a pre-application conference, contact the appropriate regional DEC office: ask for the Division of Environmental Permits.

The Department recommends keeping initial plans flexible until your proposal has been reviewed in relation to the standards of the regulatory agencies involved. Multiple mailings, multiple reviews, and misunderstandings can be eliminated by seeking clarifications from DEC staff during the planning stages of the project, and by submitting accurate, complete information. Often, minor changes in layout can avoid disagreements and delays.

Time Frames

Application submission, time frames, and processing procedures are governed by the provisions of Article 70 of the Environmental Conservation Law, the Uniform Procedures Act and its implementing regulations, (NYCRR Part 621).

Within 15 calendar days of receiving an application for a wild scenic or recreational rivers system permit, DEC will determine whether or not it contains all the information needed to begin review. If the application is not complete, the Environmental Permits staff will send the applicant a "Notice of Incomplete Application" detailing what is needed.

Once DEC receives all the necessary information, the application is determined complete, the applicant is so notified and the review process is begun. Minor projects may require 45 calendar days for a decision on the permit. Major project review may require up to 90 days if no public hearing is held, and up to 60 days after the close of a public hearing, if one is necessary. (see Is this a Project Major or Minor)

Time frames may be suspended:

  1. By mutual agreement of the DEC and the applicant,
  2. If enforcement action has been started against the applicant, or
  3. If another agency is leading the environmental review of the project under SEQR and has not yet completed the review. (See SEQR )