Conservationists across the state cheered loudly last month when Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed strengthening protections for wetlands.
Under current state rules, wetlands are only protected if they are included on official wetland maps – even if the parcels otherwise meet protection standards – but Hochul proposes scrapping that approach and ensuring wetlands of 12.4 acres or greater are automatically protected.
“If it has all the qualities of a wetland, it’s a wetland,” Roger Downs, conservation director at the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter told me.
The proposed rules would also enable the Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner to designate a smaller wetland as of “unusual importance” and worthy of protection.
Wetlands in the Adirondacks are already protected at one acre or more, so it’s not clear how momentous the new rules will be in the park. But supporters hope the new standards will improve wetlands maps – which will be more easily accessible – and spotlight the importance of wetlands in flood mitigation, carbon sequestration and as critical habitat.
My first assignment at the Explorer was a history of the Adirondack Mountain Club, which celebrates its centennial this year.
- A series of ancient dunes, remnants of the salt-water sea that once covered the region, can be seen at Brasher State Forest.
Photo: DeNeale Property wetlands & woods, courtesy of Champlain Area Trails/Almanack archive
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.