Q. 14, Short EAF (Part 1) Habitat Types
Short Environmental Assessment Form Workbook
Identify the typical habitat types that occur on, or are likely to be found on the project site.
Check all that apply:
□ Early mid-successional
A habitat is a place where a species gets what they need to survive: food, water, cover, and a place to raise young or grow. Different living things have different needs for food, water, and cover, so each kind of animal or plant has a specific kind of habitat. Habitats can be classified into many types - each with a distinct character influenced by the climate, topography of the land, and soils. New York State has a diversity of habitat types ranging from the coastal habitat along the Long Island Sound shoreline, to the alpine habitat at the top of an Adirondack peak. Some habitat types are very common and resilient, while others are rare and very sensitive to change.
This question explores the general habitat types found on a proposed project site. The information will help the reviewing agency determine whether an adverse change to the natural resources could occur as a result of the proposed activity.
The habitat types included in the question can be described as follows:
Shorelines are the fringe areas (both developed and undeveloped) along the edge of a stream, lake, river, pond, or ocean. These areas connect the shallow aquatic portion of the waterbody with adjacent upland. Shorelines provide important environmental functions, such as regulating water quality (including temperature, clarity, nutrients, and contaminants) and sustaining critical habitat for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial organisms (including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, shorebirds and waterfowl, and mammals). Shorelines are also important recreational areas. Some shorelines are developed but will still probably have on-shore or off-shore habitats that are very important. When answering this question, be sure to include both natural and already developed shorelines.
See Question 13 for additional information on wetlands.
A forest is an area that is covered with mature trees. There are many different kinds of forests in New York, each dominated by one or more tree species. Forests range from boreal forests found at the highest elevations in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, to northern hardwood forests found in upstate New York, and to pine barren forests found on Long Island. If the location or part of the location of the proposed activity is dominated by full grown, mature trees on it, it would be considered a forest.
An urban habitat is found in cities. Dominated by man-made structures, urban habitats include parks, urban open spaces, lawns, and tree-lined streets. Buildings are an important part of an urban habitat especially bridges. Many urban areas have rivers, streams, and lakes within them. These are very important parts of an urban habitat, especially when trees and other plants grow along the shores, certain plants and wildlife species can thrive in an urban habitat where vegetation or appropriate structures for nesting can be found.
This habitat type is dominated by open fields. These can be farm fields that are plowed and cultivated for crops or pasture, or naturally growing grasses, sedges, and wildflowers with little to no shrubs and trees. Orchards and vineyards may also be considered as a type of agricultural land. Common grassland habitats are pastures and fallow fields, hayfields, wet meadows, airports, or even capped landfills.
A suburban habitat is found in residential or residential/commercial areas outside of cities. They are also found in hamlets and villages. They are areas having a combination of parks, grassy lawns, non-native and native shrubs, and trees. Some suburbs have many trees and patches of forested areas, while others have virtually no trees. Most suburbs have sidewalks, roads, buildings, parking lots, and houses that are a dominant feature of the habitat. Some suburban habitats also can have wetlands, streams, shorelines, or pieces of other habitats included.
Early to mid-successional
These are agricultural and grassland habitats that occur on sites that have been cleared and plowed (for farming or development), and then abandoned. After abandonment, a variety of grasses and small herbaceous plants grow, followed after a few years by shrubs and small trees. These are habitats that are in a transition from a grassland to a forest. Common plant species found in successional habitats include goldenrods, a variety of grasses, asters, ragweed, Queen Anne's lace, dogwoods, sumac, and red cedar. These are relatively short-lived habitats and after about 15 years, eventually mature into a forest.
Answering the Question
You do not need to hire a biologist to answer this question. A visit to the site and information provided in this section of the Workbook is sufficient to answer this question. Use the descriptions provided above to help you decide what the predominant habitat types of the proposed project site are. It is very likely that more than one habitat type will occur at the site. Check all boxes that apply.
Some other sources of information to help you determine what the habitat types are:
- Contact the municipal clerk to find out if a land cover or habitat map has been created for the area. Sometimes these are part of a community's comprehensive plan, open space plan, or conservation plan.
- See what land cover is on the site by using Google Maps, or Bing Maps.
Other Useful Links
- EPA's NEPAssist mapping tool
- Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) Plan:
- Tidal Wetlands
- Freshwater Wetlands
- Ecological Communities of New York State
- Natural Heritage Community Guides
- Shoreline Protection Guide (PDF) and Shoreline Protection Webpage
- New York Nature Explorer