Question E 2 - Natural Resources On Or Near Project Site - Full EAF (Part 1)
Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) Workbook
The E.2. questions can be separated into three broad categories.
- Questions E.2.a through E.2.g. deal with geology, topography, and soils
- Questions E.2.h. through E.2.l. deal with water resources
- Questions E.2.m through E.2.q. focus on wildlife resources
Geology, Topography, and Soils Questions
Geology in the context of SEQR refers to the examination of the structure of a specific region of the earth's crust. The geology of any site can be divided into three broad categories; bedrock, surficial geology, and soils. Bedrock geology is the miles thick solid layer that is the main component of the earth's crust. Surficial geology includes all of the loose material that is found on top of this solid rock layer. Soil is the very top layer of loose material that includes organic matter, and supports plant and animal life. Both the surficial layer and the soils layer can vary widely in thickness. All three of these layers can have an influence on the natural resources found on a site as well as on the siting of, and impacts of development. Ground water availability, infrastructure installation, building construction, aquifer protection, and ground stability are all affected by the type of bedrock, and the type and thickness of the surficial and soil layers found on a site.
Geology also has an influence on the topography of an area. The topography of a site will have an effect on erosion, ground stability, building and road placement, and infrastructure installation. Topography can also affect the extent of viewsheds, location of wetlands, types of land cover, and drainage patterns. Answering the questions in this section will help the reviewing agency evaluate what impacts a project may have on these natural resources.
Most of the geology and soils related questions in Question E.2. can be answered by using a county soil survey. Soil surveys are available free of charge from the local County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office. These soil surveys list and describe the various soil types (soil map units) found throughout the county, along with their characteristics, and a map showing their location. The map is usually overlaid on an aerial photo, helping the applicant find their specific project site location.
Web Soil Survey
The Web Soil Survey (WSS) is an online tool operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). It provides digital versions of all soil survey data, and allows the user to specify a specific Area of Interest (AOI), producing a customized summary report of the soils just within that AOI. Information on how to use the Web Soil Survey, including a link to a Getting Started (PDF) document, is available on the Web Soil Survey home page.
Begin using the Web Soil Survey by clicking the "Start WSS" button on the home page. This will open the map interface. Zoom and pan in to the general location of your project site using the tools along the top edge of the map. When you are at an appropriate scale, you can then use one of the "Define AOI" tools to draw a shape directly on the map that closely matches you project area or tax parcel. Once the AOI is created, clicking on the "Soil Data Explorer" tab will open another set of tabs, which will allow you to access many specific reports that describe detailed attributes of the soils found within the AOI. You can use this information to answer most of the soils related question in this section.
If the requested information is not included in the soil survey or Web Soil Survey, you may have to do some site investigation to complete the answers. If you have completed any engineering work as part of your application, or if required by the municipality, this detailed information should also be used to answer these questions.
Note: There are portions of Franklin, Lewis and Herkimer Counties where soil survey information is not available.
E2 a. What is the average depth to bedrock on the project site? __________ feet
Answering Question E.2.a.
The depth to bedrock attribute can be found in the WSS on the Soil Properties and Qualities tab. Under Soil Qualities and Features > Depth to a Selected Soil Restrictive Layer, choose the "lithic bedrock" option and run the report by clicking the View Rating button.
The report will show the depth to bedrock for the various soil types measured in inches or centimeters. If in centimeters, divide the number by 30.48 to convert to feet. If there are multiple soil types with different depths to bedrock, the applicant will have to do some math.
Depth to bedrock is usually only listed in the soil survey for soil types that are fairly shallow. If no depths are listed, information from any drilled wells on the site or neighboring parcels may be used. Depending on the type of project being proposed, the reviewing agency may request more detailed engineering studies be used to answer this question.
E2 b. Are there bedrock outcroppings on the project site?
If Yes, what proportion of the site is comprised of bedrock outcroppings? ________ %
Answering Question E.2.b.
Bedrock outcroppings are areas where all of the loose material has been removed, exposing the underlying bedrock layer. The soil map unit name or description might indicate that it is composed completely or partially of bedrock outcroppings. Bedrock outcroppings might also be represented by points on the map without any area dimensions. If this is the case, field observations should be used to estimate the proportion of exposed bedrock the site is comprised of.
E2 c. Predominant soil type(s) present on project site:
___________________ ____ %
___________________ ____ %
___________________ ____ %
Answering Question E.2.c.
Applicants should use the Web Soil Survey to answer this question. Once an Area of Interest (AOI) has been identified as discussed previously, many reports will be available which will include information such as the total area of the AOI, a list of all soil types (map units) within the AOI, and the percentage of each type within the AOI. To identify predominant soil types, click on the main "Soil Map" tab which will create a map and legend with a list of soils types and percentages within the AOI. There may be many different soil types on the site. The question asks only for predominant soil types, so reply to this question by using the soil types that cover the largest areas. You can omit those types that only cover a small fraction of the project site.
E2 d. What is the average depth to the water table on the project site? Average: ________ feet
Answering Question E.2.d.
The "Water table" refers to that part of the soil that is saturated with water during some, or all of the year. However, a saturated zone that lasts for less than a month is not considered a water table.
Under the Soil Properties and Qualities tab, click on Water Features > Depth to Water Table, and then the View Rating button to run the report. Measurements will be in either inches or centimeters. If in centimeters, multiply the number by 30.48 to convert to feet.
Similar to the depth to bedrock attribute, if there are multiple soil types on the site, there may be different depths listed for each. The applicant can use the soil type covering the largest area, or make an estimate based on the area covered by each type. Depth to water table is usually only listed in the soil survey for soil types that have fairly shallow measurements. If no depths are listed, information from any drilled wells on the site or neighboring parcels may be used. Depending on the type of project being proposed, the reviewing agency may request more detailed engineering studies be used to answer this question.
E2 e. Drainage status of project site soils:
__ Well Drained: _____% of site
__ Moderately Well Drained: _____% of site
__ Poorly Drained _____% of site
Answering Question E.2.e.
Drainage class of site soils refers to the frequency and duration of wet soil periods under natural conditions, without influence from human activity (without artificial drainage or irrigation). The drainage class can be found in the Web Soil Survey under the Soil Properties and Qualities tab. Click on Soil Qualities and Features > Water Features > Drainage Class, and then the View Rating button to run the report.
Seven classes of natural soil drainage are recognized in the Web Soil Survey, useful for the three categories in this question as: excessively drained, somewhat excessively drained, well drained, (Well Drained); moderately well drained, (Moderately Well Drained); and, somewhat poorly drained, poorly drained, and very poorly drained, (Poorly Drained).
E2 f. Approximate proportion of proposed action site with slopes:
__ 0-10%: _____% of site
__ 10-15%: _____% of site
__ 15% or greater: _____% of site
Answering Question E.2.f.
Slope is the steepness of the topography, or the amount of inclination of a surface in relation to the horizontal. It is also known as grade, incline, or rise. Percent slope is calculated by dividing the elevation change (rise) by the horizontal distance, and multiplying by 100. For example: a 20 foot rise over a 100 foot horizontal distance = a 20% slope.
Similar to the depth to bedrock and water table attributes, if there are multiple soil types on the site, there will probably be different slopes listed for each. The report generated using the WSS will list the percent slope ration for each soil type, and the percentage of the AOI that soil type covers.
The applicant can use the soil type covering the largest area, or make an estimate based on the area covered by each type. Depending on the type of project being proposed, the reviewing agency may request more detailed engineering studies be used to answer this question.
E2 g. Are there any unique geologic features on the project site?
If Yes, describe: ________________________________________
Unique Geologic Features
Unique or unusual geological features or landforms include but are not limited to features such as cliffs, dunes, waterfalls, erratic rocks, gorges, glacial features, or caves. These features are identified through the NYS Unique Geologic Landforms project. This is a joint venture between the NYS DEC and the New York State Museum - Office of the State Geologist. It was developed to assist in the implementation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) through the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). There are over 600 sites that have been identified as unique geological features or landforms.
Answering Question E.2.g.
The answer to this question will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper and a report generated. If a unique geologic site is located in the project area or within 500 feet of the project area, the EAF Mapper will return a 'yes' and will also name that feature. If there are no unique geologic features located in or within 500 feet of the project boundaries, the EAF Mapper will check "no" on the form. If a 'yes' answer is returned, applicants should then use the DEC Environmental Mapper to further verify and determine if the geologic feature is on or adjacent to the project site. If the applicant or project sponsor believes the answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided that explains that discrepancy.
If the applicant is going to use the EAF Mapper to help fill out any portions of Part 1, they should use that first before filling out any other portions of the EAF. For more information on the EAF Mapper application, see the EAF Mapper section of the How to Use The EAF Workbooks page.
The DEC Environmental Mapper will also identify catalogued unique geologic features and provides additional information. If the identified feature is also included on the DEC Unique Geologic Features picture page, you can find additional information and descriptions there. Keep in mind that not all unique geologic features may be included in the DEC data.
If the EAF Mapper is not used to answer this question, to identify unique geologic features near your project site, use the DEC Environmental Mapper, which identifies catalogued unique geologic features. Keep in mind that not all unique geologic features may be included in the DEC data.
To use the Environmental Resource Mapper:
- Go to the Environmental Resource Mapper site, and click on the "Enter Environmental Resource Mapper" link. DEC will be providing additional links to this data in the future.
As you zoom into your project site location, the map will show designated unique geologic features with a blue star icon. Use the "Identify" tool to click on the feature, and an information box will pop up with information on all of the nearby features. The 'identify' results from the Environmental Mapper will include the name, Type, and Description for each unique geologic feature identified. If the identified feature is also included on the DEC Unique Geologic Features picture page, you can find additional information and descriptions there.
You should use local knowledge and information to confirm the presence of these features, if any. If you believe your site contains a unique geologic feature that is not shown in the database, you can include a description of it here. An example statement would be "Several erratic boulders along with glacial grooves can be found on the exposed bedrock located in the northwestern corner of the parcel."
To view photographs of some identified unique geologic features you can visit the DEC Unique Geologic Features page.
Water Resource Questions
Water, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, flood plains, aquifers
Water is the one natural resource necessary for every form of life. It is constantly flowing past us in our streams and rivers, falls from the sky on a regular basis, and is often available from the ground simply by drilling a hole deep enough to tap into it. Water is generally thought of as a public resource, to be used and managed for the good of the people. For these reasons, the federal and state governments see water as a natural resource important enough to plan for and regulate.
E2 h. Surface water features.
i. Does any portion of the project site contain wetlands or other waterbodies (including streams, rivers, ponds or lakes)?
ii. Do any wetlands or other waterbodies adjoin the project site?
If Yes to either i or ii, continue.
If No, skip to E.2.i.
iii. Are any of the wetlands or waterbodies within or adjoining the project site regulated by any federal, state or local agency?
iv. For each identified regulated wetland and waterbody on the project site, provide the following information.
• Streams: Name __________________________ Classification _______________________
• Lakes or Ponds: Name ____________________ Classification _______________________
• Wetlands: Name _________________________ Approximate Size ____________________
• Wetland No. (if regulated by DEC) _____________________________
v. Are any of the above water bodies listed in the most recent compilation of NYS water quality-impaired waterbodies?
If yes, name of impaired water body/bodies and basis for listing as impaired: ______________________________
Rivers, Streams, Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands
Note: This question asks for information about any existing water resources found on or adjoining the project site. The previous Question D.2.b. asks for information on proposed new uses that may impact water resources found on the project site.
New York's water resources, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands, are necessary for drinking and bathing; agricultural, commercial and industrial uses; and fish and wildlife habitat. In addition, New York's waterways provide opportunities for recreation; education and research; and aesthetic appreciation. The State has established policies to preserve and protect these important environmental features (Title 5 of Article 15 of the ECL).
Rivers and streams in NYS are given a classification based on existing or expected best usage of each water or waterway segment. These classifications are:
- Classification AA or A is assigned to waters used as a source of drinking water
- Classification B indicates a best usage for swimming and other contact recreation, but not for drinking water
- Classification C is for waters supporting fisheries and suitable for non - contact activities
- The lowest classification and standard is D
- Some waters may also have a designation of T or TS indicating they may support trout or trout spawning
- Small ponds and lakes with a surface area of 10 acres or less, located within the course of a stream, are considered to be part of a stream and are subject to regulation under the stream protection category of Protection of Waters
Wetlands (also known as swamps, marshes, tidal wetlands, and bogs), are areas saturated by surface or ground water to the extent that they are able to support distinctive types of vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands serve as natural habitat for many species of plants and animals and absorb the forces of flood and tidal erosion to prevent loss of upland soil. 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 laying areas across the State. Vernal pools, or temporary wetlands are critical to amphibian species and are also considered a form of wetland.
Wetlands may be regulated by a federal, state, or local agency. Some local communities may have their own wetland regulations. In NYS, Wetlands over 5 hectares (12.4 acres) are regulated by DEC along with a 100 foot adjacent area.
Water quality impaired waterbodies are those waters that have been identified as not supporting their appropriate uses. Projects in watersheds of impaired waters may be subject to heightened requirements. For example, the Federal Clean Water Act requires states to assess and report on the quality of waters in their state. Section 303(d) of the Act requires states to identify impaired waters. For these impaired waters, states must consider the development of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or other strategy to reduce the input of the specific pollutant(s) restricting waterbody uses, in order to restore and protect such uses.
Answering Question E.2.h.
No matter how an EAF is being completed, the applicant should always make a visit to the site area, if possible. The presence of a waterbody or wetland often creates project constraints, so it is important information to know.
If using the EAF Mapper Application, the answer to this question and its sub-questions will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper, and a report will be generated of the results.. The EAF Mapper uses data about regulated freshwater wetlands, NWI wetlands, APA wetlands, NHD waterbodies, water area, and streams, tidal wetlands, priority waterbodies list for lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, coastlines and estuaries. It also includes the protected water quality classifications..
For this question, the EAF Mapper serves as 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.
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 Question E.2.h.i of the PDF of the FEAF. It will also use the 500' buffer to identify if any wetlands or other water bodies adjoin the project site and will answer 'yes' or 'no' for E.2.ii.
If the answer is 'no' for E.2.i and E.2.ii, then there are no state wetlands or waterbodies present on the project site. A "no" response, however, does not mean that there are no federally regulated wetlands on the project site. Information on federal wetlands are known to be incomplete, so consultation should be undertaken with the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) regarding federally regulated wetlands and waterbodies that may be of concern.
Names for wetlands and water bodies will not be returned on the form by the EAF Mapper, Rather, the EAF Mapper return value in an answer block will read "State wetland" or "Federal wetland". 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 (ie. 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.
Question E.2.h.v. asks about water features listed by New York State as water quality-impaired waterbodies. If any of the waterbodies are listed as impaired, the EAF Mapper will return a 'yes' to this question and then name the waterbody and offer a short description of the basis for that listing.
Note that the EAF Mapper will NOT evaluate if any wetlands on or near the project site are regulated by a local agency. Therefore, applicants should investigate whether the municipality has local waterbody or wetlands rules.
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 applicant or project sponsor believes any answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided to the reviewing (lead) agency that explains that discrepancy.
If the EAF Mapper is not used to fill ou any or all portions of this Part 1 question, applicants should use DEC's Environmental Resource Mapper. The DEC regional office may also be contacted to determine if protected streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes, and waterbodies are contained within or adjoin your proposed project site. For areas within the Adirondack Park, use the Adirondack Regional Geographic Information System (ARGIS) map application. 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 National Wetlands Inventory Wetlands Mapper. Some waterbodies may be identified by name, wetland map number or other identification. Most of the mapping systems described here are developed 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 regulated, and are still an important resource to be included in the evaluation.
In addition to these online mapping sites, local municipal offices often 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.
Maps, plats, or site plans prepared for the proposed project should include locations having any waterbody or obviously wet areas. Plans should have sufficient detail on existing and proposed contours, grades, topographic features and profiles at a scale sufficient to assess project impacts on the waterbody.
Using the Environmental Resource Mapper, zoom into you project location. Clicking on any of the water resources show will display an information box with all of the data needed to answer questions E.2.h.i.-iv. The stream classification and NYS regulated wetland designations can also be found on printed maps that should be available at the local municipality, or by contacting DEC.
Once the water features and wetlands have been identified, you should investigate whether or not the water resource is classified as impaired in any way. A spreadsheet of all impaired waters is available on DEC's Section 303(d) webpage. The All Impaired Waters List (Excel, 300 KB) includes both Section 303(d) List waters, as well as Category 4a, 4b and 4c waters that are impaired but not included on the Section 303(d) List.
If you find that a water feature on or adjoining your project site is on this list, answer question E.2.h.v., and include the reason for its listing.
The NYS Freshwater Wetlands Act (PDF 129 KB)
Environmental Conservation Law, Article 25, Tidal Wetlands Act
APA Freshwater Wetlands Flyer
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
New York State Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters
Floodplains are low-lying lands found next to rivers and streams. When left in a natural state, floodplain systems store and dissipate floods without adverse impacts on humans, buildings, roads and other infrastructure. Natural floodplains add to our quality of life by providing open space, habitat for wildlife, fertile land for agriculture, and opportunities for fishing, hiking and biking.
Floodplains can be viewed as a type of natural infrastructure that can provide a safety zone between people and the damaging waters of a flood. But more and more buildings, roads, and parking lots are being built where forests and meadows used to be which decreases the land's natural ability to store and absorb water. Coupled with changing weather patterns, this construction can make floods more severe and increase everyone's chance of being flooded.
A 100-year floodplain is the area that would be inundated by the 100-year flood, better thought of as an area that has a one percent or greater chance of experiencing a flood in any single year. The 100-year floodplain is called a Special Flood Hazard Area and is shown on federal flood maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). On the FIRM, these areas are shaded and labeled with the letter "A" or "V" sometimes followed by a number or another letter. The 100-year flood is also known as the base flood.
A 500-year floodplain is the area that would be inundated by a 500-year flood, or the area that has a 0.2 percent or greater chance of experiencing a flood in any single year. The 500 year floodplain is shown on federal flood maps (FIRMs) shaded and labeled with the letter "B" or "X".
A floodway is the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height. Communities must regulate development in these floodways to ensure that there are no increases in upstream flood elevations. Floodways are not always shown on every FIRM. When they are, it is usually labeled, and shown as a dashed outline with a diagonal line fill.
Answering Questions E.2.i. through k.
The answer to questions about floodways and floodplains will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper and a report generated. If the project site is within a floodway, or 100 and 500-year floodplain, the EAF Mapper will check "yes" on the FEAF Part I pdf. Note however that flood map coverage is not available for the entire State. If data is available for the project site area a 'no' answer means that the project site is not within a mapped floodplain area. However, if there is no data available, the EAF Mapper will NOT return a 'no' but instead will indicate this with language such as 'mapping data not available for this area". If this response is received (neither a "yes" nor a "no"), the applicant should contact the municipality in which the project is located for any additional information on floodplain mapping in the area.
If the applicant or project sponsor believes the answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided that explains that discrepancy.
If the EAF Mapper is not used to help fill out any or all portions of this Part 1 question, applicants can view flood maps and other flood related information through the FEMA Map Service Center. Links on this page will allow you to view the National Flood Hazard Layer using the online map viewer. You can also view scanned versions of FIRMs (flood maps) by using the search box in the upper left side of the page.
Your local town, village, or city hall should have copies of these flood maps. EPA's NEPAssit mapping tool may also help you find floodplain information.
E2 l. Is the project site located over, or immediately adjoining, a primary, principal or sole source aquifer?
i. Name of aquifer: _____________________________________________
About one quarter of New York residents rely on groundwater as a source of potable water. Several million more people also consume groundwater as visitors or customers of homes and businesses. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) has identified 18 Primary Aquifers in NYS, defined in the Division of Water Technical & Operational Guidance Series (TOGS) 2.1.3 as "highly productive aquifers presently utilized as sources of water supply by major municipal water supply systems". Another category of aquifer defined in TOGS 2.1.3 is a Principal Aquifer. These are "aquifers known to be highly productive or whose geology suggests abundant potential water supply, but which are not intensively used as sources of water supply by major municipal systems at the present time". Sole Source Aquifers are a federal designation. Sole Source Aquifers are designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency as the sole or main source of drinking water for a community in response to a petition from the locality.
Answering Question E.2.l.
The answer to this question will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper and a report generated. If any primary principal or sole source aquifers are located under or within 500' of the project site, the EAF Mapper will check "yes" on the FEAF Part I pdf. If yes, sole source aquifer names will be included in E.2.l.i. If there are no such aquifers located within the project boundaries, the EAF Mapper will check "no" on the form. If the applicant or project sponsor believes the answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided that explains that discrepancy.
If the EAF Mapper is not used to fill out any or all of this Part 1 question, applicants, can access and download aquifer reports and maps for both primary and principal aquifers at the USGS Unconsolidated Aquifers of Upstate New York website. Note that large scale maps of principal aquifers have not been completed for all of NYS.
To access the primary aquifer maps, use the "1:24,000 scale maps" button at the bottom of the USGS page. This will open another page showing links to the abstracts for the primary aquifer reports completed for NYS. Opening the abstract page, and clicking on the numbered links after the line that reads "Plates in this publication:" will open the large scale maps that accompany each report. Use these maps to help you identify the locations and boundaries of primary aquifers in your project area.
To access the principal aquifer maps, use the "1:250,000 scale maps" button at the bottom of the USGS page. This will open another page showing links to the abstracts for the principal aquifer reports completed for NYS. Opening the abstract page, and clicking on the numbered links after the line that reads "Plates in this publication:" will open the regional maps that accompany each report. Use these maps to help you identify the locations and boundaries of principal aquifers in your project area.
For the areas mapped at a scale of 1:250,000, locations mapped as "Unconfined Aquifer 10 to 100 gallons per minute" or "Unconfined Aquifer more than 100 gallons per minute" are considered to be Principal Aquifers unless contradictory site specific information is available.
- Information about aquifers (with map graphics and information on how to download available maps) can be found on the Aquifers in New York State page.
- Visit the EPA's webpages for more information on their Sole Source Aquifers for Drinking Water program.
Wildlife Resource Questions
This question explores the general wildlife community that may exist on or near a site. It will help the reviewing agency understand the environmental context for evaluating project impacts on the entire wildlife community. This question should be answered for all proposed projects.
The use of the term 'predominant' is intended to be synonymous with 'common', and describes species that are abundant in a natural community. Applicants can identify the most common species of the wildlife community present on the site. While some projects may require a list of species to be developed through field investigation, others may need only identification of commonly found species on a site. It is not the intent of this particular question to ask the applicant to provide for a full listing of each and every species that may be found on a site. However, the reviewing agency may require additional field surveys and other natural history information after reviewing information from this question in order to assess potential impacts on wildlife.
E2 m. Identify the predominant wildlife species that occupy or use the project site:
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________
There are several ways to identify 'predominant' species. A field survey designed to inventory wildlife is one way to identify predominant species. Because there is a direct link between the kinds of species that inhabit a site and the kinds of habitats found there, applicants can inventory those habitats that are present on the proposed site and then link them to the predominant wildlife species that use those habitats.
Habitats and Wildlife
Each habitat has its own wildlife community. Habitats can be classified many ways - each with a distinct character influenced by the climate, hydrology, geology, topography of the land, and soils. New York State has a diversity of habitat types ranging from coastal habitats along the Long Island Sound shoreline, to alpine habitats at the top of an Adirondack peak.
Habitats can be generally described as falling into seven major categories: marine, estuarine (where marine and terrestrial meet), riverine (rivers), lacustrine (lakes), palustrine (ponds and wetlands), terrestrial, and subterranean (caves). Terrestrial habitats can be further described as open uplands, barrens and woodlands, forested uplands, and terrestrial cultural.
The following habitat descriptions may be useful in identifying and classifying the predominant species found on the proposed project site.
Natural shorelines are the undeveloped fringe areas 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. Shorebirds, ducks, geese, gulls, cormorants, and osprey are examples of common species found along shorelines, along with fish species such as pike, pumpkinseed, perch, lake trout, and carp.
There are several different kinds of wetland habitats in New York. These are forested, scrub/shrub, emergent marshes, and wetlands associated with open water. Each may have a different predominant wildlife community. 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. See Question E.2.h. for additional information on wetlands.
New York State has both tidal wetlands, found 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 laying areas across the State. Beaver, mink, muskrats, songbirds, herons, ducks and geese, turtles, salamanders, frogs, pike, perch, and bass are common.
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. Forests provide habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species ranging from mice, deer, and bears, to salamanders, frogs, and snakes.
Built Landscape Habitats (Urban and Suburban)
An urban habitat is found in cities and suburbs. Dominated by man-made structures and built landscapes, urban and suburban 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. Some suburbs have many trees and patches of forested areas, while others have virtually no trees. Some suburban habitats also can have wetlands, streams, shorelines, or pieces of other habitats included. Some undeveloped green areas may exist that sustain small mammals, birds and amphibians.
This habitat type is dominated by open fields of grasses, sedges, and wildflowers with little to no shrubs and trees. Common grassland habitats are pastures and fallow fields, hayfields, and wet meadows.
Early to mid-successional Habitats
These are habitats that occur on sites that have been cleared 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 Question E.2.m.
This question asks for a list of the predominant species that occupy the project site. It does not require that the applicant identify all species. There are several ways the predominant species can be identified:
- Identify the habitats at the site, and then extrapolate what species are likely to be found in those habitats. Once the habitat types present on the project site are identified, these descriptions could assist in generally characterizing the wildlife communities that may be present.
- Consult with any local conservation advisory councils (CAC), Environmental Management Councils (EMC), or other environmental organizations such as bird clubs or sportsmen organizations that may have information on wildlife species found in the area. Check local comprehensive plans, open space plans, or local biodiversity inventories that may exist.
- Use the New York Nature Explorer. This is an interactive online application on the DEC website. Enter a county, and Nature Explorer will return a list of all known breeding bird, reptile, and amphibian species in that county, as well as all rare and listed animals documented in the county.
- Use the lists from the New York State Breeding Bird Atlas. This is a searchable data base of breeding birds and can provide a great deal of information on a site by site basis.
- Use the lists from the New York State Herpetological Atlas. This is a searchable data base of inventoried reptiles and amphibians by species. Although searchable only by species, this atlas does show the locations and range of species included in the inventory.
- Review the DEC Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (PDF). This offers wildlife information on a watershed basin basis for species of greatest conservation value. The Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for New York State contains information about ecoregions, species, and species lists that may be of value in answering this question.
A field inventory to identify species may be needed if no information is obtainable from these data sites or literature.Field surveys may also be needed when the project site or project is very large and may have opportunities for different species habitats, or if a taking of a species is proposed. A field inventory could identify the habitat types that occur on the site and that may be adequate to identify the predominant wildlife species that may be present.
E2 n. Does the project site contain a designated significant natural community?
i. Describe the habitat/community (composition, function, and basis for designation):
ii. Source(s) of description or evaluation:
iii. Extent of community/habitat:
• Currently: __________ acres
• Following completion of project as proposed: __________ acres
• Gain or loss (indicate + or -): __________ acres
Significant Natural Communities
Significant Natural Communities include rare or high-quality wetlands, forests, grasslands, ponds, streams, and other types of habitats, ecosystems, and ecological areas. The New York Natural Heritage Program calls these different types of habitats or ecosystems "natural ecological communities." NY Natural Heritage documents only those locations of natural communities where the community type is rare in New York State; or, for more common community types, where the community at that location is a high-quality example and meets specific, documented criteria for state significance in terms of size, undisturbed and intact condition, and the quality of the surrounding landscape.
A natural ecological community is defined as an assemblage of interacting plant and animal populations that share a common environment; the particular assemblage of plant and animal species occurs across the landscape in areas with similar environmental conditions. Examples of community types include deep emergent marsh, red maple-hardwood swamp, dwarf shrub bog, hemlock-northern hardwood forest, and tidal creek.
NY Natural Heritage keeps track of locations of significant natural communities because they serve as habitat for a wide range of plants and animals, both rare and common; and because natural communities in good condition provide ecological value and services. The conservation of high-quality examples of all the natural community types in each region of New York State will help ensure that all New York State's plants and animals are preserved.
Answering Question E.2.n.
The answers to questions E.2.n. and E.2.n.i will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper and a report generated. If the project site contains, or is close to, any designated significant natural community, the EAF Mapper will check "yes" on the FEAF Part I pdf. If yes, the EAF Mapper will add in the natural community's name and its current acreage.
Note that the EAF Mapper will not fill in answers for E.2.n.ii and E.2.n.iii. These must be completed by the applicant. Information listed below for manually filling out the EAF should be consulted for completing this question.
If the applicant or project sponsor believes the answer filled out by the EAF Mapper is incorrect, supplemental information should be provided that explains that discrepancy.
If the applicant is using the EAF Mapper to help fill out any portions of Part 1, they should use that first before filling out any other portions of the EAF.
If the EAF Mapper is not used to complete part E.2.n and E.2.n.i, applicants can also enter the project site into the Environmental Resource Mapper to identify any significant natural communities that may be known on or near the project site. Alternatively, applicants may directly request the New York Natural Heritage Program for information about significant natural communities, as well as rare and listed animals and plants, at or near the proposed project site. Instructions for making requests by mail, e-mail, or online form can be found on the NY Natural Heritage web page.
Note that the locations displayed in the Environmental Resource Mapper, or reported by NY Natural Heritage are not the only places in New York with rare or significant natural communities; they are only the places documented in the New York Natural Heritage Program's Biodiversity Databases. Not all of New York State has been surveyed, so if the project site shows no locations of significant natural communities, it does not mean there are none there; it only means NY Natural Heritage has no information about that area.
Detailed information about any community types identified by the EAF Mapper, the Environmental Resource Mapper, or by NY Natural Heritage is available from NY Natural Heritage's Conservation Guides (link leaves DEC website). These guides include information about identification, dominant and characteristic vegetation, distribution, conservation and management. (More technical descriptions of all community types are in NY Heritage's 2002 Draft Ecological Communities of New York State).
If information from the EAF Mapper, the Environmental Resource Mapper, or NY Natural Heritage indicates that a significant natural community may be present at or near the location, a careful on-site evaluation should be done to confirm the size, status, and specific locations of those natural communities on or near the parcel, and to document the presence of any significant plants or wildlife. If there are no communities currently documented at the site, then a field investigation may be needed to identify vegetation, plant communities, and habitats present, especially for sites where other significant natural resources are present and sites that are undeveloped or are relatively undisturbed. These data should be placed on site plans so it can be evaluated by the reviewing agency in relation to other features on or planned for the site.
Check with local sources of information as well. Consult with any local conservation advisory councils (CAC), Environmental Management Councils (EMC), or other environmental organizations such as bird clubs or sportsmen organizations that may have information on wildlife species found in the area. Check local comprehensive plans, open space plans, or local biodiversity inventories that may exist.
If any significant natural communities exist on the project site, answer 'yes' and all sub-questions. If none exist, then move to Question E.2.o.
i. Describe any significant natural communities at or near the project site, including the location on the site (or distance from the site) of each natural community or habitat. If the significant natural community is reported at the location, by the Environmental Resource Mapper or by NY Natural Heritage, also include the name of the community type, provided by that source. The report from NY Natural Heritage will also list what characteristics about the natural community makes it significant, and the NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guides (link leaves DEC website) will provide a description of the community type and its typical vegetation. A map showing the location of the significant natural community on the site is recommended to supplement this description. Depending on the type and significance of the natural community found, the reviewing agency may require additional inventories and field studies to determine whether potential adverse impacts may occur.
An example statement for this question would be: "The habitat is a hardwood forest on a well-drained site, located at the highest elevation of land and on the steepest slopes found on the parcel. The tree canopy is dominated by red, white and black oaks. Other common trees include shagbark hickory, white ash, red maple, and eastern hop hornbeam. The subcanopy includes small trees and shrubs. This area is designated as G4G5 and S4, and is classified as an Appalachian Oak Hickory Forest. This type of forest is common throughout the area."
ii. List the source of data used to answer this question including data from DEC (Environmental Resource Mapper, NY Heritage, Conservation Guides, etc.), local sources (CAC, or local inventories), and persons/firms who conducted field investigations.
iii. Once significant habitat types or communities are identified, the site should be inventoried, mapped and included on site plans or other maps that are part of the project application. From this map, calculate the total size of the significant natural habitat as it currently exists, then determine the extent of that habitat after project completion, in acres. Calculate the gain or loss in acres of that habitat.
E2 o. Does project site contain any species of plant or animal that is listed by the federal government or NYS as endangered or threatened, or does it contain any areas identified as habitat for an endangered or threatened species?
i. Species and listing (endangered or threatened):
ii. Nature of use of site by the species (e.g., resident, seasonal, transient):
Endangered and Threatened Species
Threatened and endangered species are protected by both State (6NYCRR Part 182 and ECL 11-0535 for animals; 6NYCRR Part 193 and ECL 9-1503 for plants) and by federal laws. These species, along with the habitats that support them, are considered sensitive resources.
Information to be provided should include confirmation that the project side does or does not contain endangered plants or animals. If endangered or threatened species are confirmed at the site, the second part of the questions asks applicants to evaluate whether habitats that support those species are present. Modification of these habitats not only adversely affect those species and their ability to survive, but for endangered and threatened animals it could be considered a 'take' which may require an incidental take permit (link leaves DEC website) under Part 182, from DEC.
Answering Question E.2.o.
The New York Natural Heritage Program maintains a database on documented occurrences of protected species in New York. Information from this database is included in the EAF Mapper and the Environmental Resource Mapper.
The answers to this question will be automatically inserted on the pdf generated by the EAF Mapper and a report generated. If the project site contains, or is close to, any known species of plant or animal that is listed by the State or federal government as Threatened or Endangered, or if it contains any areas identified as their habitat, the EAF Mapper will check "yes" on the FEAF Part I pdf. Note - because animals are transient, in addition to reporting a "Yes" when the site is known to contain a listed species of animal, the mapper will also report a "Yes" if the site is close to a known species occurrence. The buffer area that the mapper uses to determine closeness varies by species. If yes, the EAF Mapper will add in the common names of the threatened and endangered species. A 'yes' answer by the EAF Mapper should be considered as an initial screening, to be supplemented by more details about the species and its habitat on the project site.
- If any of the threatened or endangered species listed by the EAF Mapper are plants, submit a request to NY Natural Heritage for a more information. Instructions for making requests by mail, e-mail, or online form can be found on the NY Natural Heritage web page.
- If any of the threatened or endangered species are animals, contact the appropriate NYSDEC Regional office for information about any permit considerations for the project and about potential impacts of the project on these species. (When only animals are listed by the EAF Mapper, contacting NY Natural Heritage is not necessary).
In addition, information on protected species is available on the Department's website through the Environmental Resource Mapper web application. The Environmental Resource Mapper highlights areas of concern in the vicinity of documented locations of rare plants and rare animals, both protected (listed) species and unlisted rare species; in some cases, it will provide the specific identity of the species. Regardless of the results of the Environmental Resource Mapper, if the EAF Mapper lists a threatened or endangered animal in or near a project site, contact the appropriate NYSDEC Regional office (no need to contact NY Natural Heritage). If the EAF Mapper does not list threatened or endangered animals, and the Environmental Resource Mapper indicates rare plants or animals in the vicinity of a project site, a request may be submitted to NY Natural Heritage for a more detailed screening.
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.
Note that the locations displayed in the Environmental Resource Mapper, or reported by NY Natural Heritage, are not the only places in New York with protected species: they are only the places documented in the New York Natural Heritage Program's Biodiversity Database. Not all of New York has been surveyed, so if no locations of endangered and threatened species are documented from the project site, it does not mean that none are there. It only means NY Natural Heritage has no information about the area. Depending on the nature of the project and the conditions at the project site, further information from on-site surveys or other resources may be required to fully assess the presence of threatened or endangered animals and plants.
You may also find that information on endangered and threatened species has already been collected for the municipality. Contact the town/city/village clerk to find out if a local comprehensive plan, open space plan, or wildlife and plant inventory has already developed for the area. Often, these documents include lists or maps that will be helpful to you in answering this question.
Some communities also have Conservation Advisory Councils (CAC) or Boards (CAB). These local environmental advisory groups, made up of volunteer members from the community, often have already completed local inventories of plant and animal species. They may be a helpful source of information and maps.
If a field survey or local or DEC information indicates that an endangered or threatened plant or animal species occurs or may occur on your proposed project site, additional information and field evaluations will likely be needed to fully inform the reviewing agency about the presence of these threatened or endangered species, or their habitats.
If any endangered or threatened plant or animal species, or their habitat, exist on or near the project site, answer 'yes' and all sub-questions. If none exist, then move to Question E.2.p.
i. List any endangered or threatened animal species found or reported on or near the project site. Identify its status as either endangered or threatened. If endangered or threatened species are known to be present adjacent to, or near the location, and habitats are confirmed present on the project site, list those species and habitats.
ii. Habitats can be used by endangered and threatened species for breeding, hibernation, reproduction, feeding, sheltering, migration or overwintering. The site may be used year-round, seasonally, or on a transient basis (passing through the area or during migration.) Once endangered or threatened animal species are identified on or near the site or if their habitats are on the project location, a field investigation may be necessary to understand how the species may be using the site. This investigation should be thorough enough to understand the role the project location plays in supporting the species and whether there will be adverse modifications of that habitat. If the endangered or threatened species is a plant, indicate the habitat on the project site where the plant is found.
For a list of animals listed by the State as endangered or threatened, and for fact sheets on many of these species go to the State Threatened and Endangered Species List page.
For other information on endangered animal species, go to the Endangered Species Unit page and the NYS's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) Plan (PDF).
For a list of plants listed by the State as endangered or threatened, go to DEC's Protected Native Plants page.
Information about many of the endangered and threatened animals and plants in New York, including habitat, biology, identification, conservation and management, are available from NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guides and from NatureServe Explorer.
For information on federally listed endangered and threatened species, go to the US Fish and Wildlife Service page.
E2 p. Does the project site contain any species of plant or animal that is listed by NYS as rare, or as a species of special concern?
i. Species and listing:
ii. Nature of use of site by the species (e.g., resident, seasonal, transient):
Rare Species or Species of Special Concern
New York State also classifies certain plants as Rare (6NYCRR Part 193 and ECL 9-1503) and certain animal species as being Species of Special Concern (6NYCRR Part 182 and 1503).
Species of special concern are fish and wildlife species that warrant attention and consideration, and there is concern for their continued welfare in New York, but current information, collected by DEC, at this time does not justify listing these species as either endangered or threatened.
Answering Question E.2.p.
Follow the same guidelines and use the same resources in answering this question as were provided for the previous questions, E.2.o., including using the EAF Mapper, the Environmental Resource Mapper, and obtaining a report from the NY Natural Heritage Program. Instruction for making requests by mail or e-mail can be found on the the NY Natural Heritage Program Page. Instructions for making requests by mail, e-mail, or online form can be found on the NY Natural Heritage Program web page.
If any animal Species of Special Concern or plant species listed as Rare exist or are reported to be on or near the project site, answer "yes" and all sub-questions. If none exist, then move to Question E.2.q.
i. List any Species of Special Concern or Rare species found or reported on or near the project site. Identify its status as Species of Special Concern or Rare.
ii. Habitats can be used by animal Species or species of special concern for breeding, hibernation, reproduction, feeding, sheltering, migration or overwintering. The site may be used year-round, seasonally, or on a transient basis (passing through the area or during migration.) Once animal Species of special concern species are identified on or near the site, or if their habitats are on the project location, a field investigation may be necessary to understand how the species may be using the site. This investigation should be thorough enough to understand the role the project location plays in supporting the species and whether there will be adverse modifications of that habitat. If there is a plant species listed as Rare identified on or near the site, indicate the habitat on the project site where the plant is found.
For a list of animals listed by the State as Species of Special Concern, and for fact sheets on many of these species, go to the State Threatened and Endangered Species List page. For more information, also see the Endangered Species Unit page and the a NYS Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) Plan (PDF).
For a list of plants listed by the State as Rare, go to the DEC's Protected Native Plants page.
Information about many of the Species of Special Concern and other rare animals and plants in New York, including habitat, biology, identification, conservation and management, are available from the NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guides and form the Nature Serve Explorer.
E2 q. Is the project site or adjoining area currently used for hunting, trapping, fishing or shell fishing?
If yes, give a brief description of how the proposed action may affect that use:
Hunting, Trapping, Fishing
Answering Question E.2.q.
Hunting, trapping, fishing, or shell fishing are outdoor recreational activities related to the environment that may be impacted by a change in land use. Applicants should use their general knowledge of the project site to answer this question. If unfamiliar with the outdoor recreational use of the property, applicants should consult with former owners, neighbors, and local sportsmen clubs. If these activities are known to currently take place, describe how the proposal may affect them. For example, the change in use of lands for hunting could be described as "the site is a wooded parcel that is currently used for hunting. 50% of the woodland will be will be removed to construct the structure and parking lot. The remaining woodlands will be preserved, but due to their proximity to the new buildings, hunting will not be allowed."
Back to Part 1 (FEAF) Project and Setting || Continue to Part 1 (FEAF) Question E 3 - Designated Public Resources On or Near Project Site