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For Release: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

State DEC Honored For Improvements To Environmental Review Process

New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association Presents DEC with the Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

The New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association recently honored the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing new Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) tools that make it easier and quicker for applicants and reviewers to complete the forms that must be submitted as part of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.

DEC received the Chapter's 2014 Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice for creating SEQR Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) Workbooks and an EAF Mapper. These tools were developed by DEC in collaboration with the environmental planning firm Community Planning & Environmental Associates and the geographic information system development firm Fountain Spatial.

"Reviewing projects that may impact the environment is important to protect our air, land and water," Commissioner Martens said. "DEC continues to improve the system to make it easier for applicants to provide needed information on a proposed project. We are proud to be recognized for our efforts to streamline this process, which will save time for applicants, while ensuring that proposed projects are properly assessed under SEQR."

The Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice is given to a planning tool, practice, program, project, or process that is a significant advancement to specific elements of planning. Emphasis is on results and how the best practice helped to promote efforts that foster greater participation in planning.

DEC prepared the EAF Workbooks to assist applicants, project sponsors and reviewing agencies in the completion of the assessment form. The workbooks explain the background behind each question on the EAF, offer guidance on how to analyze the issue and provide sources of information that can be consulted if the project sponsor or the agency is seeking additional information on a topic. The workbooks also make generous use of examples to illustrate typical situations that project sponsors and agencies encounter when conducting an environmental assessment.

The EAF Mapper is an Internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) tool that makes it easier for a project sponsor to prepare the EAF form. For example, to answer questions about the project site, a sponsor can either use the mapping software to identify the location by its tax map parcel number, or use a drawing tool built into the system to obtain the necessary site information.

Information for SEQR forms for the new EAF, companion workbooks and the EAF Mapper can be found on DEC's website.

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