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Q. 13, Short EAF (Part 1) Waterbodies & Wetlands

Short Environmental Assessment Form (SEAF)

icon of the SEAF

a. Does any portion of the site of the proposed action, or lands adjoining the proposed action, contain wetlands or other waterbodies regulated by a federal, State or local agency?
b. Would the proposed action physically alter, or encroach into, any existing wetland or waterbody?
If Yes, identify the wetland or waterbody and extent of alterations in square feet or acres:

Background Information

photo of wetland with trees in standing water

Wetlands, streams, lakes, and reservoirs, are all examples of waterbodies that may be regulated by a federal, state, or local agency. Some local communities may have their own wetland regulations. Certain streams, and lakes also are regulated.

Wetlands are known by many names such as swamps, marshes, bogs, and wet meadows. One thing all have in common is that they are areas saturated by surface or ground water. Wetlands also support distinctive vegetation that is adapted for life in wet soil conditions. Standing water is only one clue that a wetland may be present. Many wetlands only have visible water during certain seasons of the year, but are still considered wetlands. In New York State, two main types of wetlands are found: tidal wetlands around Long Island, New York City, and up the Hudson River all the way to Troy Dam; and freshwater wetlands found along rivers and lake floodplains and in low lying areas across the State.

A typical tidal wetland is the salt marsh which is found in the near-shore areas all around Long Island, the lower Hudson River, and along the entire Atlantic coast of the United States. These areas are dominated by grasses and other marsh plants which are adapted to the rise and fall of the tide and the salty water it brings. The blades of marsh grass provide a hiding place for many juvenile fish and habitat for many other animals as well. The grass blades become a vital part of the food chain when they break off and decay, providing food for other animals and adding nutrients to the marine environment. Tidal wetlands in New York State are found on the Hudson River from the Troy Dam south to the southern tip of Staten Island, and along the entire shoreline of Long Island, including the shorelines of Gardiners Island, Shelter Island, and Fishers Island. Wetlands serve many important roles in the environment. These include providing:

  • Natural habitat for many species of plants and animals. Wetlands are one of the most productive habitats for feeding, nesting, spawning, resting and cover for fish and wildlife.
  • Flood and storm water control by absorbing, storing and slowing down the movement of rain and snow melt that acts to minimize flooding.
  • Surface and groundwater protection by absorbing pollutants and contributing water to streams and rivers.
  • Erosion Control by slowing water velocity and filtering sediments, protecting streams, lakes, reservoirs and navigational channels. Wetlands also buffer shorelines and agricultural soils from water erosion.
  • Water Pollution Treatment by filtering out natural and many manmade pollutants.
  • Public enjoyment as areas for recreation, open space, education and research.

Answering the Question

a. Does any portion of the site of the proposed action, or lands adjoining the proposed action, contain wetlands or other waterbodies regulated by a federal, State or local agency?

The answer to this question will be automatically inserted on the PDF generated by the EAF Mapper

The EAF Mapper evaluates DEC regulated freshwater wetlands, NWI (federal) wetlands, APA wetlands, NHD waterbodies, tidal wetlands, DEC priority waterbody inventory, and protected streams. The EAF Mapper will not provide information on any local regulations that may affect the project site. In addition, information on federal wetlands and waterbodies are known to be incomplete. Applicants should check with the appropriate municipality to determine if any local regulations apply, and consult with the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) regarding federally regulated wetlands and waterbodies that my be of concern.

For this question, the EAF Mapper is a screening tool that informs that a wetland or waterbody is close to or within the project site. If the EAF Mapper has indicated the presence of regulated wetlands or waterbodies, applicants should verify the reported waterbodies on the project site. Names for wetlands and water bodies will not be returned on the form by the EAF Mapper, State wetlands will be coded with a wetland identifier such as "S-5. State protected streams and rivers will be answered with a number such as 876-1, rather than a name. If a code such as this is returned, it implies that the name of the water body can be found in regulation at 6 NYCRR Chapter X (Parts 800-941). In this example, the 876 identifies part of Chapter X where the stream name is located (Part 876 is the Mohawk River Drainage Basin). The hyphenated numbers (i.e., 876-1) indicates the Item number of the water body within that basin. The item number can be used to look up the water body name, class and standard by going to Table 1 (Classification and Standards), in the appropriate subpart of Chapter X. Table 1 is usually located in subsection 4 of the Part. If the applicant or project sponsor believes the answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided to the reviewing agency that explains that discrepancy.

If a wetland or waterbody regulated by either the State or federal government does exist within the boundaries of the project site, or within 500' of the project site, the EAF Mapper will check "yes" on the PDF of the SEAF. If 'yes' is returned for Question 13a, then the EAF Mapper should also have filled in the name of the wetland or waterbody. If the EAF Mapper does not find a name, the return value in an answer block will read "State wetland" or "Federal wetland". Note again that information on federal wetlands are known to be incomplete so consultation with the ACOE is necessary. Also, note that Question 13b, and a description of the extent of alteration of a wetland or waterbody, will NOT be filled in by the EAF Mapper. If the answer is "yes", applicants must still complete all parts of Question 13.

If there are no State or federal regulated wetlands or waterbodies located within the project boundary or within 500' of it, the EAF Mapper will check "no" on the form for you. If information exists that there are waterbodies on the project site that are regulated locally, or by the ACOE that did not appear in the EAF Mapper return, then supplemental information should be attached to the EAF to identify this. Further information on wetlands and waterbodies can be found in the Environmental Resource Mapper site (see below).

If the EAF Mapper is not used to answer this question, applicants can use DEC's Environmental Resource Mapper to look for wetlands, protected streams, and other regulated waterbodies that may be contained within your proposed project site.

To use the Environmental Resource Mapper:
  • Go to the Environmental Resource Mapper and click on the "Enter Environmental Resource Mapper" link. DEC will be providing additional links to this data in the future.

The map will show whether or not there are any DEC regulated wetlands, streams, or other waterbodies on your proposed project site. The Environmental Resource Mapper does NOT include APA regulated wetlands within the Adirondack Park.

For areas within the Adirondack Park, use the Adirondack Regional Geographic Information System (ARGIS) map application.

The map will show whether or not there are any APA regulated wetlands on your proposed project site.

To find out if there are any mapped wetlands on your proposed project site that are outside of any NYS agency jurisdiction, you can use the use the National Wetlands Inventory Wetlands Mapper. Federal wetland information is incomplete so the ACOE should also be consulted to see if there are concerns for unmapped wetlands.

In addition to these online mapping sites, your local municipal office should have paper copies of the DEC and APA regulatory maps. They may also have local plans, studies, or natural resource inventories that include mapped wetlands and locally designated wetlands.

Lastly, you can also look at the site itself for any standing water or obviously wet areas that have unique vegetation growing on them. Most of the mapping systems described here are done at a scale that does not include wetlands smaller than about 1/4 acre. The fact that they are not mapped does not mean they are not an important resource deserving protection.

Answer no if you do not find any wetlands or other regulated waterbodies on your proposed project site.

Answer yes if you find any wetlands or other regulated waterbodies on your proposed project site using the resources listed above, even if your project will not physically encroach into the wetland.

b. Would the proposed action physically alter, or encroach into, any existing wetland or waterbody?

Answer no if your proposed project will not physically alter or encroach into any wetland or regulated waterbody.

Answer yes if your proposed project will physically alter or encroach into any of the wetlands, wetland buffer areas, regulated streams, or other regulated waterbodies identified in part a of this question.

Other Useful Links

The NYS Freshwater Wetlands Act (PDF 130 KB)

Environmental Conservation Law, Article 25, Tidal Wetlands Act

APA Freshwater Wetlands Flyer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)

The National Wetlands Inventory

Back to Part 1 Project Information || Continue to Question 14 - (Part 1)

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