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Wetland and Watercourse Protection: Lessons from Three Hudson Valley Towns and an Update on Changes to State Wetland Policy
September 14, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Local wetland and watercourse regulations are a powerful tool to protect natural resources and reduce flood risk. They help fill major gaps in federal and state regulations by protecting a wider range of wetlands and watercourses, as well as critical buffer areas. Importantly, they also effectively limit new development in many floodplains.
The first part of this webinar will present a new study examining how local wetland and watercourse regulations can increase land use controls in floodplains. The project profiles three Hudson Valley towns that have successfully adopted such regulations: East Fishkill, New Castle, and New Paltz. Researchers will present an overview of the regulations, how they enhance floodplain protection, factors enabling policy adoption, and lessons from implementation. The full study is available here.
The second part of this webinar will provide an update about historic reforms to New York’s Freshwater Wetlands Act signed into law with this year’s state budget. Currently, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) wetland jurisdiction is limited to wetlands that are equal to or greater than 12.4 acres (and certain wetlands of unusual local importance) and identified on the State Freshwater Wetlands Map. The new legislation will eliminate this map requirement beginning in 2025 and in 2028 the threshold for regulated freshwater wetlands will drop to 7.4 acres. The reforms will significantly expand state wetland jurisdiction in the coming years and affirm the critical role of wetland protection for habitat conservation, water quality, reducing flooding in our communities, and bolstering resilience to climate change.
Webinar attendees will receive an email confirming attendance, which may be submitted locally for 1.5 hours of municipal planning or zoning board training credit.
A.R. Siders and Logan Gerber-Chavez, University of Delaware Disaster Research Center
Stevie Adams, The Nature Conservancy
Roy “JR” Jacobson, Head, Habitat Protection Section, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation