Freshwater Wetlands Permits
ARTICLE 24, ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW
6NYCRR PART 663, Part 664, and Part 665
Freshwater wetlands are lands and submerged lands, commonly called marshes, swamps, sloughs, bogs, and flats, supporting aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation. These ecological areas are valuable resources, necessary for flood control, surface and ground water protection, wildlife habitat, open space, and water resources. Freshwater wetlands also provide opportunities for recreation, education and research, and aesthetic appreciation. Adjacent areas may share some of these values and in addition, provide a valuable buffer for the wetlands.
The Department has classified regulated freshwater wetlands according to their respective functions, values and benefits. Wetlands may be Class I, II, III or IV. Class I wetlands are the most valuable and are subject to the most stringent standards.
Certain human activities can adversely affect, even destroy the delicate ecological balance in these important areas. The policy of New York State; set forth in the Freshwater Wetlands Act, is to preserve and protect the benefits that wetlands provide.
The Department of Environmental Conservation was charged with implementing this policy through its Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Program. Intended to prevent despoliation and destruction of freshwater wetlands, these regulations were designed to:
- preserve, protect, and enhance the present and potential values of wetlands;
- protect the public health and welfare; and
- be consistent with the reasonable economic and social development of the state.
*Note: Amendments were made in 2022 to the regulatory program. A summary of those changes (PDF) is available.
Wetlands are Mapped
The Freshwater Wetlands Act currently requires the DEC to map DEC-regulated wetlands, which do not include those mapped by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) within the Adirondack Park Region. Mapping is done in order to identify those wetlands that meet the limits set forth in the law.
Official freshwater wetlands maps showing the locations of New York's wetlands are on file at DEC regional offices, the APA, and local government offices.
The Environmental Resource Mapper (ERM), a web based interactive mapping application developed by DEC, can also be used to locate freshwater wetlands regulated by the State of New York. The ERM can also be used to create simple maps that can be submitted as part of the Freshwater Permit Application process.