Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A renewed interest in wetlands

DeNeale Property wetlands & woods

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.


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.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

16 Responses

  1. nathan says:

    i would like to see proposals where land owners can get wetlands certified and protected. Especially my property where the power company every so often sprays mass amounts of herbicides into the wetlands/streams on my land with nothing i can an do about it. by time ECO shows power guys have sprayed and moved on. so little regard and last time i complained my fields were suddenly all tore up by a pickup and diesel fuel sprayed all over. never happened before, but a week right after i complained about illegally spraying around beaverpond and streams with dead fish floating 2 days later. i now gated and locked roadways, power company shows i will demand they be supervised by ECO.

  2. Mike says:

    Conservationists cheered loudly while Kathy enforces her draconian rules on children and parents. Hooray for conservationists.

    • Bill Keller says:

      Does everything have to be about wearing a mask? Get over it.

      • Mike says:

        Keep your head in the sand much?

        • mrdale says:

          Snowflake afraid of a little piece of cloth or is that “a bridge too far” to protect yourself and your fellow man during a Pandemic?

          Folks with this attitude could have never survived the sacrifices that had to be made during World War II.

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    Wetlands act like landscape sponges by absorbing water and releasing it slowly into either ground or surface waters. This reduces flooding. Wetlands also perform the ecosystem service of filtering water.

    Serious help to water quality designed by nature.

    Protecting wetlands is a critical function of government.

    Developers will cry that protecting them is a “taking”, ha, those developers should have done their homework before buying the land or proposing unsuitable development.

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “ensuring wetlands of 12.4 acres or greater are automatically protected.”

    This is very wise! Some of my doubts about our new governor have been removed!

    • Boreas says:


      I would like to see that 12.4 acre figure dropped to 5 acres AT MOST. We often ignore the the importance of even the tiniest vernal pools that we can jump across! As we dry vernal pools by removal of over-story and/or old-growth, and draining soggy soils on agricultural lands, ‘phibs and reptiles become more scarce. Many ONLY breed in tiny vernal pools. I guess the loss of populations cut down on grotesque road carnage, but certainly not in a good way!

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Mike says: “Conservationists cheered loudly while Kathy enforces her draconian rules on children and parents. Hooray for conservationists.”

    Some parents are okay with their children wearing masks Mike! Don’t they count? Evidently some people could care less about other people’s children! We’re in a pandemic! ‘Draconian’ is way out of context and reminds us once again of the politicization of the worst pandemic this world has seen in our lifetime! People should read the history on past pandemics, or visit old graveyards and see all of those wee headstones where little boys and girls checked out of this world before they ever got to know what life was really all about. Hochul may have her faults, we all do, but understand that she’s thinking about the whole not herself. I don’t understand the impatience, this whining about people’s lives being uprooted because of mandates, or this or that relative to Covid. It’s hard to believe all of the narcissism out there, the signs in front of houses, “Unmask our children” etc….. We’re in a pandemic for Christ sakes!

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