Excerpts from Chapter X - Division of Water Resources, Environmental Conservation Law

Part 664 Freshwater Wetlands Maps and Classification

Part 664 applies to all wetlands regulated under the Freshwater Wetlands Act, whether regulated by the DEC, towns, cities, villages, or counties. The DEC alone is responsible for mapping and classification of wetlands, regardless of which agency is implementing the act in a particular locality (except that the Adirondack Park Agency shall classify wetlands within the Park).

Freshwater wetlands - at least 5 ha in area, or having unusual local importance

Wetland Benefits Recognized Under Section 669.3 b:

  1. Flood and stormwater control
  2. Wildlife
  3. Water supply
  4. Water quality
  5. Fisheries
  6. Food chains
  7. Recreation
  8. Open space and aesthetic appreciation
  9. Education and scientific research

Wetland Classification System

Class I wetland has any of the following:

  1. Classic kettlehole bog
  2. It is a resident habit of an endangered or threatened animal species
  3. It contains an endangered or threatened plant species
  4. It supports an animal species in abundance of diversity unusual for the State or for the major region of the State in which it is found.
  5. It is tributary to a body of water which could subject a substantially developed area to significant damage from flooding or from additional flooding should the wetland be modified
  6. It is adjacent or contiguous to a reservoir or other body of water that is used primarily for public water supply, or it is hydraulically connected to an aquifer which is used for public water supply.
  7. It contains four or more enumerated class II characteristics. The DEC may, however, determine that some of the characteristics are duplicative of each other, therefore, do not indicate enhanced benefits, and so do not warrant class I classification. Each species to which (6)-(8) apply shall be considered a separate class II characteristic for this purpose.

Class II wetland has any of the following:

  1. It is an emergent marsh in which purple loosestrife and/or reed (phragmites) constitutes < 2/3 of the cover type.
  2. It contains two or more wetland structural groups.
  3. It is contiguous to a tidal wetland.
  4. It is associated with permanent open water outside the wetland.
  5. It is adjacent or contiguous to streams classified C(t) or higher under article 15 of Environmental Conservation Law.
  6. It is traditional migration habitat of an endangered or threatened animal species.
  7. It is resident habitat of an animal species vulnerable in the State.
  8. It contains a plant species vulnerable in the State.
  9. It supports an animal species in abundance or diversity unusual for the county in which it is found.
  10. it has demonstrable archaeological or paleontological significance as a wetland.
  11. It contains, is part of, owes its existence to, or is ecologically associated with an unusual geological feature which is an excellent representation of its type.
  12. It is tributary to a body of water which could subject a lightly developed area, an area used for growing crops for harvest, or an area planned for development by a local planning authority, to significant damage from flooding or from additional flooding should the wetland be modified, filled or drained.
  13. It is hydraulically connected to an aquifer which has been identified by a government agency as a potentially useful water supply.
  14. It acts in a tertiary treatment capacity for a sewage disposal system.
  15. It is within an urbanized area.
  16. It is one of the three largest wetlands within a city, town, or NYC borough.
  17. It is within a publicly owned recreation area.

Class III wetland has any of the following:

  1. It is an emergent marsh in which purple loosestrife and/or reed (phragmites) constitutes 2/3 or more of the cover type.
  2. It is a deciduous swamp.
  3. It is a shrub swamp.
  4. It consists of floating and/or submergent vegetation.
  5. It consists of wetland open water.
  6. It contains an island with an area or height above the wetland adquate to provide one or more of the benefits 664.6(b)(6).
  7. It has a total alkalinity of at least 50 ppm.
  8. It is adjacent to fertile upland.
  9. It is resident habitat of an animal species vulnerable in the State in which it is found, or it is traditional migration habitat of an animal species vulnerable in the major region of the State in which it is found.
  10. It contains a plant species vulnerable in the major region of the State in which it is found.
  11. It is part of a surface water system with permanent open water and it receives significant pollution of a type amenable to amelioration by wetlands.
  12. It is visible from an interstate highway, a parkway, a designated scenic highway or a passenger railroad, and serves a valuable aesthetic or open space function.
  13. It is one of the three largest wetlands of the same cover type within a town.
  14. It is in a town in which wetland acreage is less than 1% of the total acreage.
  15. It is on publicly owned land that is open to the public.

Class IV wetland does not have the characteristics of class I, II, or III above.

Cover Types (constitute 50% or more of the classification type)

  1. Wet meadow - consists of plants such as sedges, rushes, coarse grasses, and sometimes cattails. Soil is saturated for a significant part of the growing season. Vegetation tends to grow in clumps or tussocks. Cattails, if present, grow between the clumps. In agricultural areas, wet meadow is usually cleared but uncultivated, often pastured.
  2. Emergent marsh - consists of such plants as cattails, purple loosestrife, swamp loosestrife, arrowheads, reeds, bur reeds, pickerelweed, wild rice, water plantain, bulrushes, and arrow arum. These are herbaceous plants encroaching on water areas and flooded with standing water much of the year. Emergent marsh is generally the most valuable cover type.
  3. Deciduous swamp - consists of live deciduous trees > 4.5 m height. If not totally flooded, terrain is hummocky. Trees include American elm, red maple, silver maple, red ash, black ash, swamp white oak, and willows. Deciduous swamps are likely to be saturated during spring and early summer, but appear dry toward the end of summer and in the fall. Deciduous swamp is relatively valuable because it is frequently used by nesting waterfowl and is also heavily used by songbirds and other wildlife.
  4. Coniferous swamp - consists of live coniferous trees > 4.5 m height. Species include black spruce, white cedar, red spruce, balsam fir, and American larch.