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Wetland Delineation: New Federal Regulations for K-12 Districts and BOCES

The New York State Education Department’s 2022 Manual of Planning Standards has updated site planning guidance to address both existing and changing federal and state wetland regulations. The updated guidance now specifically states “School Districts and BOCES are required to comply with State and Federal wetland laws and regulations.”

Federal wetlands and streams are regulated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) through the Clean Water Act, which was updated in March 2023. State wetlands and streams are regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and new regulations will be implemented in 2025. The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires districts to ensure their projects do not impact these regulated water resources.

The first step to determine whether a wetland and stream delineation survey is required is to consult the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) website and NYSDEC’s Environmental Resource Mapper (ERM). Unfortunately, these resources are very out of date and inaccurately describe boundaries and possible jurisdictions. The NWI does not capture most wetlands and streams in New York, and NYSDEC will often take jurisdiction of wetlands that are not shown on the ERM.

To comply with federal and state wetland regulations, a wetland and stream delineation survey should be considered before any new construction or major maintenance of existing facilities. LaBella’s qualified wetland professionals can survey the boundaries of any aquatic resource onsite and help districts determine whether any present resources are federal or state jurisdictional through essential consultation with USACE on the federal side and with NYSDEC on the state side.

If it is determined that a district project would impact either federal or state wetlands or streams, then LaBella can help obtain permits for such work on behalf of the district. Permit approval timelines vary based on agency workload and complexity of the project, but a permit is generally anticipated within six to nine months of a complete permit application submission.

About the Author
Adam Price
Wetland Ecologist

Adam is a Wetland Ecologist with over seven years of experience conducting wildlife and ecological surveys across New York, Florida, and Alaska. He is responsible for a wide variety of environmental compliance and monitoring activities, including completing state and federal wetland permitting, delineating wetlands, habitat and wildlife studies, and consultation. Adam also has experience performing environmental and agricultural monitoring for large-scale utility construction projects.