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For Release: Thursday, April 12, 2012

DEC Proposes Tidal Wetlands Guidance Document for Installing Catwalks and Docks

Public Comment Period Runs Through May 9

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation today released a guidance document to aid in the interpretation of terms contained within the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations for installing catwalks and docks. A public comment period on the document will run through May 9.

"Tidal wetlands are invaluable for marine food production, wildlife habitat, flood, hurricane, and storm control," said Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources Kathy Moser. "This proposed guidance document is intended to aid both DEC staff and the regulated public by producing a clearer, more easily understood and streamlined permit process for installing catwalks and docks in marine waters."

The development of this guidance document is in response to the many challenges involved in managing a program and balancing environmental concerns with developmental pressures.

DEC staff typically issues 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.

The current Part 661 Regulations are available for review on the DEC Public Website.

DEC has posted the proposed guidance document on the DEC's main Tidal Wetlands webpage.

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:

  • avoidance of impact to valuable habitats;
  • appropriate water depths and methods for determining them;
  • structure use; and
  • minimizing short-term construction impacts.

Citizens and officials interested and affected by the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations may provide comments on this guidance document. All comments and concerns on the Part 661 guidance documents proposed revisions should be forwarded to: Dawn McReynolds, Bureau of Marine Resources, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 205 N. Belle Meade Road, E. Setauket, NY 11733 or FW.Marine@dec.ny.gov by May 9, 2012. Please reference Tidal Wetland Guidance in the subject of the email.

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.

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