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State environmental regulators propose guidance document for living shorelines

The State Department of Environmental Conservation yesterday issued a draft guidance document for the creation of living shorelines in New York’s marine district, which includes Long Island.

“Improving coastal resiliency and reducing risk to communities is a priority of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and this proposed living shorelines guidance encourages smart approaches to protect against shoreline erosion,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release announcing the publication of the draft.

“Using natural solutions will build a more resilient coastline that will be better able to withstand the impacts of severe weather and coastal storms. Living shorelines can reduce shoreline erosion while maintaining habitats that are critical to our economy and we urge coastal communities and planners to follow these important suggestions,” Seggos said.

DEC’s proposed guidance encourages the appropriate use of natural shoreline protection measures in place of hardened or man-made approaches to coastal erosion controls.

County Legislator Al Krupski and his son, Southold Town Trustee Nick Krupski at the site of the county’s demonstration project off Cedar Beach. File photo: Denise Civiletti

The guidance document (see below and it can also be found on the DEC’s website) provides information on different types of living shorelines, explains how tidal wetland and protection of water permit standards relate to living shorelines, and speaks to proper siting, maintenance, and monitoring considerations for these shoreline approaches.

Suffolk County embarked upon its first living shorelines demonstration project in Southold this year, planting nearly 200 feet of shoreline with grasses and black ribbed mussels.  

Citizens and officials interested and affected by the Tidal Wetland Land Use Regulations are encouraged to make comments on this guidance document, the agency said.

The guidance document advances the concepts of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act signed by Cuomo in 2014. The statute’s goal is to speed up New York’s adaptation to climate change and create opportunities to use living shorelines as natural buffers to coastal erosion.

New York’s proposed guidance is an example of national trends emphasizing the importance and value of natural and nature-based features to reduce flooding and erosion risks. Living shorelines and tidal wetlands areas are invaluable for improving water quality, marine food production, wildlife habitat, flood, hurricane, and storm control.

New York State began to recognize the importance of tidal wetland areas and sought to insure their protection from human activities by passing the Tidal Wetland Act in 1973. Tidal wetlands line much of the salt water shoreline, bays, inlets, canals, and estuaries of Long Island, New York City, and Westchester County. These wetlands also line the Hudson River in Westchester and Rockland counties upstream of the salt line.

The guidance document will provide communities in these areas a better understanding of what living shorelines are and how to incorporate them within tidal wetland and protection of water regulations (Part 661) with the intention of maintaining the quality of habitats and their storm risk reduction function.

Notice of availability for comment will be published in the Environmental Notice Bulletin on Jan. 4, 2017.

All comments and questions on this guidance document should be forwarded to: Dawn McReynolds, Bureau of Marine Habitat, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 205 N. Belle Meade Road, E. Setauket, NY 11733  or by email to  [email protected]  by Feb. 8, 2017. Please reference Living Shoreline Guidance in the subject of the email.

DEC Living Shoreline Guidance Document – Draft Dec. 2016 by East End Local Media Corp. on Scribd

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.