WHAT ARE WETLANDS?
WHY ARE THEY SO VALUABLE?
occur where land and water meet for extended periods of time. They occur
along water bodies, lakes, rivers, streams, etc., in low lying areas where
water ponds, and even on hillsides where groundwater seeps to the
surface. Almost 60% of the wetlands that were originally here in Western
New York have been destroyed. Our environment is showing the effects of
this destruction. We cannot afford any more significant wetland losses.
are unique and irreplaceable and have values and functions that contribute
to our community's social, economic and environmental health. Once a
wetland is destroyed it is very difficult, if not impossible, to restore
all these original functions.
provide natural open space, filter pollutants from water, provide flood
protection, recharge aquifers, maintain dry season stream flows, stabilize
shorelines from erosion, provide habitat for fish and wildlife--and like
other undeveloped land, generate more taxes than they use.
the 1980's the New York State and Federal Governments responded to wetland
losses by creating wetland conservation programs to preserve what wetlands
we had left. Now we have laws protecting wetlands. But we also have a
local responsibility to know where the wetlands are in our communities so
that they can be protected.
local wetlands preservation options contact the Western New York Land
Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, or other local or regional
conservation organizations or agencies.
WHERE ARE THE WETLANDS IN MY
reviewing the following information sources you can determine if land is
likely to be a wetland or is close enough to one to also be regulated.
These sources do not identify all wetland
areas. They do give approximate boundaries of identified wetlands and
areas with soils that can support wetlands. Only field investigation will
determine wetland presence on property in your community.
NEW YORK STATE
FRESHWATER WETLAND MAPS
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has
mapped the approximate boundaries of freshwater wetlands regulated by
state law. Mapping includes wetlands of 12.4 acres (5 hectares) or more
and certain smaller wetlands of unusual local importance. Wetland maps
are used to determine the presence of state regulated freshwater wetlands
on particular properties. Copies are available at local town clerk's
offices, NYSDEC, USDA, NRCS, and most County Soil and Water Conservation
District offices. NYSDEC has order forms for purchasing maps from the
Syracuse Blueprint Co., Inc., or you may order them by calling
COUNTY SOIL SURVEYS
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has published soil
surveys maps for most counties in Western New York. They are available
for review at NRCS/SWCD offices, or through your town planning department
and in most libraries. Hydric soil lists are also available at NRCS
offices. Poorly drained and very poorly drained or "hydric soils" are
often characteristic of wetland areas.
NWI maps show some of the locations and types of wetlands in the United
States. The information from these maps, together with information about
wetland soil types reported in the County Soil Survey maps, provides good
indications of the presence of wetlands. Please note the NWI maps are
not a substitute for NYSDEC Wetland maps and do not represent all federal
jurisdiction wetlands under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The NWI
maps can overlay US Geological Survey (USGS) topographic mapping. Both
can be purchased from the USGS by calling 1-800-USA-MAPS. NWI maps can
also be purchased from the Institute for Resource Systems at Cornell
University by calling (607) 255-6529.
JOINT NYSDEC AND US ARMY CORPS
OF ENGINEERS (USACE) PERMIT
building can occur in or near wetlands a permit is generally required.
Whenever possible it is best to avoid or minimize building impacts on
wetlands, to protect the wetland to avoid costly construction and building
management problems. If you are building or reviewing plans for building
that are near possible wetland areas, please contact the agencies listed
under WHO TO CALL for permit requirements and
applications. When a complete wetland application permit is received by
the NYSDEC, a copy is automatically forwarded to the USACE. They begin
their processing. If the NYSDEC does not have jurisdiction, application
directly to the regional USACE office is required.
WHO TO CALL
In Erie and Niagara
Erie County Dept. of
Environment and Planning
Erie County Environmental
Erie County Soil and Water
USDA Natural Resources
Niagara County Planning
Niagara County Environmental
Niagara County Soil and Water
USDA Natural Resources
NYS Department of
Division of Compliance
Services, Region 9
US Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE)
US Department of the Interior
Fish and Wildlife Service,
Cortland NY Office
US Environmental Protection
Wetlands Protection Branch,
Region 2, NYC