Marcellino's Bill to Expand Wetlands Protection Moved out of
State Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset), Chairman of the
Environmental Conservation Committee, today announced that the freshwater
wetlands bill was moved out of the Environmental Conservation committee. Senate
bill 2081 will strengthen New York State's ability to protect this natural
resource. The Marcellino bill only effects freshwater wetlands. Areas designated
as tidal wetlands would not fall under this legislation.
"New York State wetlands serve as essential natural filters
and water purifiers. They are also our first line of defense against soil
erosion and flooding. However, state law has not kept pace with the knowledge
regarding the importance of wetlands. This legislation is intended to help bring
New York law into the 21st century on this important issue," said Senator Carl
Senator Marcellino's freshwater wetlands bill will:
●Lower the jurisdictional threshold from 12.4 to one acre. Wetlands under one
acre that are adjacent to other waterbodies, or of significant local importance
would also be regulated;
●Change the use of wetlands maps so that they are used to educate the public
about the location of wetlands rather than for regulatory purposes;
●Streamline the mapping process so that maps would more accurately reflect the
actual presence of wetlands throughout the state; and
●Ensure that citizens and municipalities have input in the development of
"Senator Marcellino's bill will extend protection to thousands
of wetlands that are currently vulnerable to destruction. By promoting this
vital legislation, Senator Marcellino is working to protect New Yorkers from
flooding and to help make the state's lakes and rivers swimmable, fishable and
drinkable. Sierra Club greatly appreciates his efforts," said John Stouffer,
Legislative Director for the Sierra Club—Atlantic Chapter. "I am pleased that
this important piece of legislation has moved out of the Environmental
Conservation Committee. It is my goal to work with the Governor, the Assembly,
and other members of my conference to enact the
changes put forth in this bill," concluded Senator Marcellino.
"According to our analysis of Corps of Engineers' records,
permits under the federal Clean Water Act are no longer being required for
wetlands in New York amounting to approximately 100 football fields a year,"
said Brad Sewell, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"We applaud Senator Marcellino and the Committee for approving S.2081 so that
the State of New York can step in and protect these wetlands."
Many wetlands under 12.4 acres in size have vanished in
Western New York so the need is immediate for improved protections. The legacy
the loss of valuable wetlands has brought us is unmitigated flooding experienced
in our area today—especially where homes have been built in wetlands and storm
sewers can't hold the water that undisturbed wetlands once did," said Liz
Kaszubski, Conservation Chair of Buffalo Audubon Society.
"The measures embodied in this legislation are of critical
importance to better protecting the State's freshwater wetlands. The health of
the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Estuary Complex and the surrounding upland
watershed areas will be greatly enhanced when these measures are enacted into
law and policy," said Kyle Rabin, Executive Director, of Friends of the Bay.
"Under Senator Marcellino's leadership, the Senate
Environmental and Conservation Committee once again has acted to protect New
York's most vulnerable wetlands from destruction, " said Dereth Glance, Program
Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Citizens Campaign is
hopeful that the full senate will adopt wetlands protection sufficient to
protect our drinking water quality, wildlife habitat, and protect our property
from flooding." Glance concluded.
New York League of Conservation Voters Executive Director
Marcia Bystryn said, "This important bill will help maintain drinking water
quality, limit flooding and preserve precious natural areas. We are grateful to
Senator Marcellino for his leadership on this legislation and we hope to see it
pass the full Senate soon. Protection for our wetlands is urgently needed."
"Given the exorbitant cost of constructing and maintaining
water filtration facilities—which replicate water purifying functions that
wetlands perform for free—it is clear that protecting wetlands protects public
health and the economy," said Alex Matthiessen, Executive Director & Hudson
Riverkeeper, Riverkeeper, Inc. "With quick movement out of the Environmental
Conservation Committee, we are encouraged that this critical legislation will
reach the Senate floor for a full vote and be passed in 2005. We applaud Senator
Marcellino for his leadership on this important issue."
"New York is one significant step closer to clean water
protection today thanks to Sen. Carl Marcellino who guided the wetlands bill to
passage in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee," said Environmental
Advocates of New York Executive Director Robert Moore. "We look forward to
working with the Senator to achieve passage of this super bill in the full
Senate, and its delivery to the Governor for his signature."
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