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Assembly Candidate Supports Wetlands Regulation Changes

Mike Bobseine, the Democratic Party, Working Families Party, and independent Restore Freedom Party Candidate for the New York State Assembly District 150 seat, will propose changes to the State’s Freshwater Wetlands Act to protect property owners’ rights in state-designated wetlands if elected.

“I recently attended the Chautauqua Lake Symposium hosted by Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. The nearly day-long event was chock full of presentations by researchers, elected officials or their representatives, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our Region 9 Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Julie Barrett O’Neil, and Region 9 DEC Assistant Director, Chad Staniszewski,” Bobseine said. “In addition to the many issues and concerns about Chautauqua Lake’s current and future health and sustainability, a primary focus of the audience was concern about the NYSDEC’s plans for formulating and implementing the new Freshwater Wetlands Act beginning next year and in 2028.”

The Legislature amended the original Freshwater Wetlands Act in 2022. The amended law does away with the existing NYSDEC-generated wetlands maps indicating areas of regulated wetlands; decreases the size of regulated wetlands from 12.5 to 7.4 acres (and possibly smaller wetlands of “critical concern”); provides for creation of “informational” wetlands maps to guide regulation and permitting; and further defines activities requiring NYSDEC permits.

“Property owners around Chautauqua Lake are legitimately concerned that the DEC’s coming regulations and new permitting requirements will prevent full use and enjoyment of Chautauqua Lake and negatively impact their property and value,” said Bobseine. “I will be proposing an amendment to the Freshwater Wetlands Act in January that clearly states the activities that are exempt from the wetlands permitting requirements. The amendment will put into law exemptions for existing and permitted uses that are presently exempt and remove the fear of regulatory overreach impacting property owners’ and municipalities’ current existing docks or piers or other structures in designated wetlands.”

Bobseine’s proposal will be in addition to – and a response to – a recent Senate Bill sponsored by New York Senator George Borello. Senator Borello’s proposal was not acted on before the Legislature adjourned.

“I’m looking forward to working with Senator Borello to help our Chautauqua Lake property owners and municipalities. My proposal, however, will ensure protections for all the inland freshwater lakes in our Assembly District, including Bear, Cassadaga, and Findley Lakes, in addition to Chautauqua Lake. Further, it will extend these protections statewide and be all-inclusive. Also, and I mean this sincerely, my proposal is more realistic, and, I believe, can garner bipartisan support. My proposal seeks to strike a balance that recognizes the significance of wetlands to sustaining the overall health and beauty of our freshwaters and the rich flora and fauna of those waters, while also seeking to ensure that property owners and municipalities have certainty about exemptions for their existing structures and uses in our all-important wetlands.”

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