Administrative History

The series consists of overlay maps that are products of a wetlands inventory project conducted by the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Department of Environmental Conservation. The maps were apparently created as a result of the division's desire to compile a comprehensive statewide survey designed to seek out, identify, and collect data on the wetlands of the state. Wetlands are lands which may be permanently, temporarily, or intermittently covered by fresh or saltwater. They are commonly referred to as flood basins or flats, meadows, marshes, shrub swamps, wooded swamps, or bogs. Previous to this project, several local or regional surveys of wetlands had been conducted, but the total area of wetlands in New York, and in what ways and at what rate they might be changing or disappearing, was unknown. The inventory was apparently begun in 1973 and completed in 1975.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife carried out mandated responsibilities for efficient management of the fish and wildlife resources of the state. Its programs for environmental protection were designed to protect critical elements of essential habitats and to preserve unique environments. Monitoring fish and wildlife populations and habitats provides a measure of the stresses affecting environmental quality and species productivity. A complete wetlands inventory was one part of an environmental inventory and monitoring sub-program that would in turn aid other wetlands development and maintenance programs. The Environmental Bond Act of 1972 established funds to be spent in land acquisition. Implementation of this act was written as Article VI of Chapter 659 of the Laws of 1972, which authorized millions of dollars for freshwater wetlands acquisition and restoration.

The survey coincided with public recognition of the importance of freshwater wetlands in areas other than the traditional recreational pursuits, specifically the contributions to flood water buffering, recharging ground water supplies, nutrient cycling and pollution treatment, and insuring open space, aesthetic values, and areas for educational and scientific research. The beaver had also been recently designated as the official state mammal, and a wildlife management objective was to maintain the species population levels in relation to human population density and land use. An annual aerial beaver survey covering 1,300 square miles was flown in the Adirondacks to determine population levels and to estimate trends. An added feature of these maps is a designation wherever there is evidence of beaver in a wetlands. The maps represent aerial photographic interpretation and mapping prepared by the Wildlife Habitat Management Section of the Bureau of Wildlife, which designed the inventory with the Resource Information Laboratory of Cornell University. The overlays are an attempt to use 1968 black and white aerial photographs and sampled field checking to insure interpretation accuracy. According to a user guide prepared by the division, the maps do not reflect natural succession or man induced changes after 1968, nor do the maps indicate additions or deletions as a result of field checking in the process of filing regulatory maps under section 240301 of the Freshwater Wetlands Act. Such official regulatory maps were to be used to regulate activities that would have adverse impact on wetlands or which would substantially impair any of the functions or benefits wetlands provide.