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NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Division of Fish and Wildlife


625 Broadway. 5th Floor. Albany, NY 12233-4750
P: (518) 402-8924 IF: (518) 402-8925
www.dec.ny.gov

M E M O R ANDUM

TO: Commissioner Basil Seggos

FROM: Tony Wilkinson, Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife

SUBJECT: Filing Amended Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Maps for Kings and
Queens Counties

DATE: October 4, 2018

ActionNeeded:

SignDecision and Order; and return to Lucretia Paulsen at 4750, phone


402-8924.

History of Issue:

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has requested thatDEC
amend the Kings and Queens Counties Wetland Maps to include three wetlands
of unusual local importance that are located on one of their properties. The
wetlands are part of the decommissioned Ridgewood Reservoir and provide
habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. The map amendment consists of
the addition of three separate Class I Wetlands totaling 29.5 acres: Wetland B-1
is 8.1 acres in size; Wetland B-2 is 12.0 acres in size; and Wetland B-3 is 9.4
acres in size.New York CityDepartment of Parks and Recreation is the only
landowner affected by the amendment.

Public notice was provided on February 2018. A public hearing was held on
March 15, 2018. A 30-day comment period was provided.

Current Status:

Final amended maps have been prepared, all questions from the public have
been addressed, and the amendment package is ready for the Commissioner's
signature.

I
0RK Dep artment of
0�
,';'
_
o,ruNITv Environmental
Conservation
Perspective:

This amendment package consists of one amendment in Kings County and one
amendment in Queens County and will change Kings County Map 2 of 6 and
Queens County Map 4 of 10

Issues/Challenges/Risks:

Twenty-three comments were received, all in favor of the amendments. No edits


to the proposed Wetland Maps were requested during the comment period and
all the comments strongly supported the proposed map amendments.

Next Steps:

The Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is preparing maps for final distribution
and the notices to landowners, local officials, and the newspaper. On the filing
date, letters will be mailed and newspaper notices published. After filing letters
are sent, staff will work with the public and landowners to answer questions that
arise.

Lead Involvement:

Work on the amendment was conducted by Region 2 Natural Resources


Supervisor Ken Scarlatelli. The Region 2 Regional Attorney Patrick Foster and
Regional Director Steve Zahn have been kept updated on this amendment.

Ton 1
Director
Division of Fish and Wildlife
STATE OF NEW YORK
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
------------------------------------------------------------------------X

In the Matter of the Amendments of the DECISION AND ORDER


Final Freshwater Wetlands Maps for
KINGS COUNTY and QUEENS COUNTY
------------------------------------------------------------------------X

WHEREAS:

L Subsequent to the promulgation of the final Freshwater Wetlands Maps

for Kings County dated March 30, 1988, and Queens County dated September 27, 1995,

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 2 Staff was alerted to three wetlands

of local unusual importance on Kings County Map 2 of 6 and Queens County Map 4 of 10 ("the

Maps").

II. Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) §24-0301(6) authorizes the Commissioner

of DEC to amend the maps to conect e1rnrs or make additions, deletions or technical changes.

III. DEC Staff proposed to amend the Maps for Kings County and Queens County to add

three Class I wetlands, B-1, B-2 and B-3, to the Maps. Notice was provided as required by ECL

§24-0301(5) and §24-0301(6) and 6 NYCRR §664.4 and §664.7. A thirty-day public comment

period was provided for the proposed amendments.

IV. DEC Staff reviewed the public comments and now recommends that Kings County

Map 2 of 6 be amended to add B-3 as a Class I wetland and Queens County Map 4 of 10 be

amended to add B-1, B-2, and B-3 as Class I wetlands.

V. Upon review of the DEC Staffs Findings and Recommendations related to this

amendment dated September 27, 2018, I am satisfied that Staffs actions are appropriate. I

conclude that Staffs recommendations are consistent with the requirements of the Freshwater

Wetlands Act (ECL Article 24) and are supported by the record.
NOW THEREFORE, in accordance with the authority vested in me under ECL §24-

0301(6), I hereby ORDER the following to become effective on November 1, 2018:

1. that Map 2 of the final freshwater wetlands maps for Kings County shall be amended to

add Class I wetland B-3;

2. that Map 4 of the final freshwater wetlands maps for Queens County shall be amended to

add Class I wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3;

3. that a copy of the final maps for Kings County and Queens County, as amended, or the

relevant portions thereof, shall be filed in the office of the clerk of each local government

in Kings County and Queens County that is affected by the foregoing amendments;

4. that the classifications shown on the classification sheets attached to the affected

quadrangles be and hereby are established; and

5. that this Decision and Order shall be filed, mailed and published in accordance with ECL

§24-0301 and 6 NYCRR §664.7.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Department of

Environmental Conservation has caused this Decision

and Order to be signed and issued and has filed the same with

all exhibits related thereto in its office in the County of Queens

this

tJ4. day of Cf>oto� , 2018.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION


BASIL SEGGOS, COMMISSIONER
State of New York
Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233

In the Matter
of
Proposed Amendment of
Freshwater Wetlands Map 2 of 6
of Kings County

and

Proposed Amendment of
Freshwater Wetlands Map 4 of 10
of Queens County

Addition of Freshwater Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3

SUMMARY OF STAFF FINDINGS


AND RECOMMENDATIONS

October 3, 2018

Ken Scarlatelli
Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, New York 11101
718/482-4020

Statement of Finding Page 1


I. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS

A. Preliminary Statement
The final New York State Freshwater Wetlands Maps for Kings County were filed with
local government clerks on March 30, 1988 and Queens County were filed with local government
clerks on September 27, 1995. Based upon new findings, Region 2 staff of the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (hereinafter "the Department") proposes that the
Commissioner amend Kings County Map 2 of 6 and Queens County Map 4 of 10, pursuant to
Environmental Conservation Law (hereinafter "ECL") §24-0301(6) and 6 NYCRR §664.4 and
§664.7, to add Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 as Class I wetlands. A map of proposed Wetlands B­
l, B-2 and B-3 is found in Exhibit 1.

B. Notification Provided
Notice of the Department's proposed Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 map amendments was
sent by certified mail to the affected landowner and the two adjacent property owners on February
20, 2018 pursuant to the procedures set forth in ECL §24-0301(6) and 6 NYCRR §664.7.
Notification was published in the Environmental Notice Bulletin on February 20, 2018 and in the
Queens Ledger and Glendale Register on September 22, 2018. A public hearing on the proposal
was held on March 5, 2018, in accordance with 6 NYCRR §664.7. Thirty-four members of the
public attended the meeting. The formal comment period ended March 22, 2018. All comments
received through March 2018 were carefully reviewed and considered.

II. DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED AMENDMENT

The Department proposes to add one new wetland, Freshwater Wetland B-3, as a Class I

Statement of Finding Page 2


wetland to Map 2 of 6 of the final New York State Freshwater Wetlands Map for Kings County
and Map 4 of 10 of the final New York State Freshwater Wetlands Map for Queens County.
Proposed Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 are located at the border of Kings and Queens Counties,
within Highland Park, which is owned and operated by the New York City Department of Parks
and Recreation (NYCDPR), and is bounded generally on the north by Jackie Robinson Parkway;
on the west by Vermont Place; on the south by Highland Boulevard; and on the east by Cypress
Hills National Cemetery, B'nai Jushurum and Shearith Israel Cemetery, and Cypress Hills Street.

The amendment includes three wetlands in three separate basins. Although these three
wetlands are within 50 meters of one another, they function separately in providing wetland
benefits (e.g., flood and storm control, wildlife habitat, pollution treatment). Therefore, they are
considered and regulated as three separate wetlands of unusual local importance pursuant to 6
NYCRR §664.7(c). Basin 1 (the eastern basin) contains one 8.1-acre wetland, Basin 2 (the
central basin) contains one 12.0-acre wetland, and Basin 3 (the western basin) contains one 9.4-
acre wetland.

III. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A. Staff Investigations Supporting the Amendment

NYCDPR, the property owner, has requested that DEC amend the Kings and Queens
County Freshwater Wetland Maps to add the unmapped wetlands of unusual local importance
within Ridgewood Reservoir. These wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety of plants and
animals, including several threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species. The owner,
NYCDPR, has nominated the entire property for designation as a Critical Environmental Area
(CEA) under 6 NYCRR 617.14(g). It is also listed on both the State and National Historic
Registers, having been nominated by a local community group.

The boundaries of wetlands within all three basins were delineated in the field, and a draft

Statement of Finding Page 3


boundary map that identified a total of 29.5 acres of wetlands was prepared. Proposed wetland B­
l (eastern basin) measures 8.1 acres, proposed wetland B-2 (central basin) measures 12.0 acres,
and proposed B-3 (western basin) measures 9.4 acres.

Department and NYCDPR staff conducted the three wetland delineation studies according
to the procedures described in the New York State Wetlands Delineation Manual (NYS Manual).
The wetlands may be considered to be non-jurisdictional by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
based on their lack of connectivity to a traditionally navigable water.

Proposed Wetlands B-1 and B-3 consist entirely of seasonally flooded, forested wetlands.
Wetland B-1 is 8.1 acres in size, and Wetland B-3 measures 9.4 acres. These areas are dominated
by a mixture of hydrophytic and non-hydrophytic vegetation, and display indicators of wetland
hydrology, but the soils are not hydric. However, several dominant plant species consistently
display morphological adaptations to saturated soil conditions, including surface roots, multiple
trunks, and hypertrophied lenticels, all. Therefore, these areas qualify as freshwater wetlands,
according to the NYS Manual.

Dominant plants within the overstory of proposed Wetlands B-1 and B-3 include several
native species, including gray birch (Betula populifolia), red maple (Acer rubrum), eastern
cottonwood (Populus deltoides), honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), sweetgum (Liquidambar
styraciflua), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvatica), and pin oak (Quercus palustris). The
understory is dominated by the invasive species European buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), with
multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora); also an invasive species, as subdominant. Dominant vines
include Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and poison ivy (Toxicodendron
radicans), both native species; as well as European bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), and
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicerajaponica), both invasive species. Groundcover was sparse, but
was dominated by seedlings of the tree and shrub species, as well as the invasive species garlic
mustard (Allaria petiolata). Common rush (Juncus effusus), and sedges (Carex spp.), both
native wetland plants, were present within some depressions.

Statement of Finding Page 4


Proposed Wetland B-2 is 12.0 acres in size, ofwhich 4.5 acres (38 percent) consists of
open water and 7.5 acres (62 percent) consists ofemergent wetlands, comprised ofa
monoculture-ofcommon reed (Phragmites australis).

Pursuant to 6 NYCRR §664.7(c)(l), an area ofless than 12.4 acres shall be designated as
a wetland ofunusual importance ifit contains any ofthe Class I characteristics listed in 6
NYCRR §664.5(a). A 2007 survey conducted for the NYDPR confirmed the presence ofthe
State endangered late-flowering boneset (Eupatorium serotinum), as well as the State threatened
fringed boneset (Eupatorium hyssopifolium var. laciniatum) and globe-fruited ludwigia
(Ludwigia sphaerocarpa). This survey also confirmed the presence ofthe State endangered
Short-Eared Owl (Asia jl.ammeus) and the State threatened Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus
podiceps). Since wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 provide habitat for several threatened and
endangered plant and wildlife species, they meet the Class I criteria enumerated in 6 NYCRR
§664.5(a)(2) and (3).

B. Response to Comments Summary

A total of 14 letters, containing 23 comments, were received in response to the Notice of


Map Amendment for Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3. Copies ofall written comments are contained
in the Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 file at the Department's Long Island City office. Comments are
summarized below, followed by responses from Department staff. Staff considered all comments
submitted and provided responses to substantive comments submitted in regard to the accuracy of
the proposed amendment, including the technical/scientific merits ofincluding or omitting specific
areas from the wetland, as well as justification for the proposed wetland classification.

All of the letters received by the Department expressed strong support for the proposed
wetland map amendment. Below is a summary ofthe comments, followed by staff responses.

Statement of Finding Page 5


The following five comments were included in a letter to the Department from Eric L.
Adams, Brooklyn Borough President:

Comment 1: The Ridgewood Reservoir, a landmark in engineering history and one


of the most important examples of 19 th century urban infrastructure in the City of New
York, is the last remaining remnant of the City of Brooklyn's water supply system, and
protecting it, along with all of our freshwater wetland ecosystems is a top priority of mine.
That is why I support a formal determination to map Ridgewood Reservoir's three basins
as Class 1 freshwater wetlands.

Staff Response: The mapping of freshwater wetlands within Ridgewood Reservoir will
offer it protection under New York State's Freshwater Wetlands Act, Article 24 of the Environmental
Conservation Law (ECL).

Comment 2: When the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC
Parks) drafted an application for Critical Environmental Area designation last year, the
wetland in Basin 3 was omitted from the mapping. Ridgewood Reservoir community
supporters argued for a delay in submitting the application pending the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)'s wetland determination, the outcome
of which will affect protection of Basin 3 as a wetland, as well as also extend protections
offered by Critical Environmental Area designation.

Staff Response: The wetland map contained in NYC Park's CEA application was taken
from the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI), produced by the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS). It is meant to provide the public with an estimate of where wetlands might be
located and of their size and shape. It is not meant to be definitive, rather it's findings are
subject to field verification. The NWI correctly identified locations of Wetlands B-1 and B-2
within Basins 1 and 2, but it failed to identify Wetland B-3, in Basin 3. Staff believes that the

Statement of Finding Page 6


inclusion of Wetland B-3 will improve the accuracy of NYC Park's CEA application.

Comment 3: The Ridgewood Reservoir is an ecological and cultural wonder -


recently underscored, when it was added to the State and National Historic Registers
through the efforts of the educational not-for profit NYC H20 - and one of the many
reasons why Brooklyn is a great place to live and work. Located between the Jackie
Robinson Parkway and Brooklyn's Cypress Hills neighborhood on the Brooklyn-Queens
border, Ridgewood Reservoir offers a glimpse into the environmental history of Brooklyn,
Queens, and Nassau County, and, as such, is invaluable. Within its three basins are eight
unique ecological zones, and its flora and fauna encompass 156 bird species and 175 species
of plants including three that are endangered in New York State. Proximal to Jamaica
Bay, many of Ridgewood's avian species migrate on the Atlantic Flyway and depend on the
availability of the fresh water from the pond's middle basin and surrounding forest and
wetlands.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological and
cultural site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of
a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species,
are cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by
the Department. The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it
meets the criteria to be classified as a Class I wetland.

Comment 4: With the wetland mapping and Critical Environmental Area


designation, both of which NYC Parks now seems to support, success in the fight to ensure
long-term protection for Ridgewood Reservoir will have been achieved.

Staff Response: Mapping of these wetland under the Freshwater Wetlands Act will
provide them, along with their Wetland adjacent areas, with regulatory protection. Designation
of the site as a CEA will afford the site with additional protection under the State Environmental

Statement of Finding Page 7


Quality Review Act (SEQR).

Comment 5: I hope you will consider Ridgewood Reservoir's three basins as Class 1
freshwater wetlands so the development of Ridgewood Reservoir as a protected community
resource that can serve as an education resource, historic site, and nature preserve can be
pursued.

Staff Response: Wetlands in all three basins are being mapped as Class I wetlands. The
property owner, NYCDPR, will decide what use(s) the site will have, but any development
activities within the wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas will require permits from
the Department.

The following six comments were included in a letter from State Assembly Member
Catherine Nolan, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Congresswoman Grace Meng, State
Senator Joseph Addabbo, State Senator Michael Gianaris, State Assembly Member Michael
Miller, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, and City Council Member Antonio Reynoso to
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

Comment 6: On Monday, June 30, 2014, the New York City Department of Parks
and Recreation (NYC Parks Department), along with the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC), held a public meeting at the St Pancras School in
Glendale, Queens to discuss plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir. This meeting was called
because the NYC Parks Department has filed an application with the NYS DEC to
complete work that would involve creating three very large breaches in the reservoir's
surrounding berms. Although we appreciate the time that both agencies took to help
inform the community about the plans moving forward, we still have very serious
concerns:

In 2010, the DEC received an application for wetland designation of the remaining two

Statement of Finding Page 8


basins of the Ridgewood Reservoir. The Department has not acted on this application and
at the June 30 meeting cited "Lack of staffing and more pressing matters related to
environmental concerns following Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in
2012" as the reason for this. It is important to know that if these basins are given wetland
designation then the plans by NYC Parks would have to be halted. However, the NYC
Parks Department cannot delay this project because under state regulations the
decommissioning must be completed by August. There is a simple way to mitigate this
situation; we ask that the NYC Parks Department be granted a waiver so they can delay
the proposed work to give DEC the time it needs to examine the 2010 wetland application.

Staff response: The wetlands within all three basins are being mapped as Class I wetlands.
Staff is not aware of plans by NYCDPR to breach any of the dams within Ridgewood Reservoir.
All proposed activities within wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas would require
permits from the Department, and no permit applications for the site have been received to date.
but any such activity would require permits from the Department.

Comment 7: The DEC has classified the Ridgewood Reservoir as a class C dam but
many community leaders and residents alleged that the dam should be classified as a class
D structure. The class C designation is very old and has not been reviewed in decades. We
ask that the DEC give the situation another look before the NYC Parks Department moves
forward with its proposed plans.

Staff response: The dam classification is not affected by mapping of the wetlands on th� site,
but it has been reclassified by the Department as Class A (Low Hazard).

Comment 8: We are concerned that the proposed work by the NYC Parks Department
would disrupt the natural environment of the area. The proposed work consists of
breaching the berms that separate the Ridgewood Reservoir's basins, building permanent
access roads into this habitat and cutting down at least 470 trees. We are deeply concerned

Statement of Finding Page 9


that these changes will significantly harm the natural and largely undisturbed habitats of
the animals that currently live there. We ask the DEC look at this situation again before
forcing the NYC Parks Department to begin construction.

Staff response: Staff is not aware of any current plans by NYCDPR to breach dams, cut
down trees, or build roads on the site. All proposed activities within wetlands or their regulated
wetland adjacent areas would require permits from the Department, and no permit applications
for the site have been received to date.

Comment 9: Finally, the NYC Parks Department has said that the proposed project to
breach the dam of the Ridgewood Reservoir will cost the city at least $6 million. We
believe that there are many other areas where the city can spend this money including
building more schools, improving our infrastructure, upgrading our transportation system,
and many other capital requests that our Community Boards have highlighted.

Staff response: Staff is not aware of any current plans by NYCDPR to breach dams on the
site. All proposed activities within wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas would
require permits from the Department, and no permit applications for the site have been received
to date.

Comment 10: We have also enclosed several articles about this situation to show you
that our residents and the community at large are still very concerned about these
developments. We support these concerns and would appreciate if you can look into this
issue. Thank you again for your time and attention on this matter.

Staff response: No articles were enclosed with the letter received by the Depaitment. All
proposed activities within wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas would require
permits from the Department, and no perinit applications for the site have been received to date.

Statement of Finding Page 10


The following three comments were included in a letter from State Assemblywoman
Catherine Nolan to Commissioner Seggos:

Comment 11: Please accept my official public comments in regard to my support for
designating the Ridgewood Reservoir as a class 1 freshwater wetland. As you know, I have
had the privilege of being an advocate for the preservation of the Ridgewood Reservoir. In
2014, I along with other elected officials sent a letter to Governor Cuomo (enclosed)
expressing concern of the proposed J.?lan by the NYC Parks Department to breach the
berms of the Ridgewood Reservoir. In response, your agency changed the designation,
which saved over $6 million dollars and most importantly restarted the wetland study.

Staff response: Staff acknowledges and appreciates the Councilwoman's support for the
Department's change of the dam designation. Staff also draws attention to the fact that most, but
not all, of the reservoir is not being mapped as freshwater wetlands.

Comment 12: As you know, the Ridgewood Reservoir is truly a unique site which
consists of natural and largely undisturbed habitats for many species of animals. There are
8 unique ecological zones which encompass 156 bird species and 175 species of plants
including 3 that are endangered in New York State. Its cultural significance was recently
underscored when the Reservoir was added to the State and National Historic Registers
through the efforts of the many civic organizations including Queens Community Board 5.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological and
cultural site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of
a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species,
are cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by
the Department. The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it
meets the criteria to be classified as a Class I wetland.

Statement of Finding Page 11


Comment 13: I support and strongly endorse your agency's formal determination to
map all three basins at the Ridgewood Reservoir as Class 1 freshwater wetlands. This will
ensure that the reservoir is preserved for future generations. I want to thank you and
Governor Cuomo for your leadership in this important environmental initiative. It is also
important to acknowledge the wonderful work of community groups and not for profit
advocates like Community Board 5, H2O, and many other residents who supported this
policy.

Staff response: Staff acknowledges and appreciates the Councilwoman's support for the
mapping of wetlands on the Ridgewood Reservoir site. Staff also draws attention to the fact that
most, but not all, of the reservoir is not being mapped as freshwater wetlands.

The following two comments were included in a letter to the Department from Steve Nanz:

Comment 14: It is with enormous pleasure that I write today in support of the findings
of the Wetland Delineation Report for the Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens, NY. ECL Article
24 wisely values and encourages the protection of these small pockets of remaining habitat
when they are of particular environmental and community significance, a point echoed in
your eloquent and highly informative presentation of March 5. With the loss of over 90%
of the original freshwater wetlands within NYC, an important stop over location for birds
along the eastern migration flyway, protection of habitat like this is essential.

As I mentioned in the March 5 meeting, I first became involved in the cause to preserve
Ridgewood Reservoir in 2007. At that time I had joined a team of volunteers doing a
breeding bird survey. I recall that on one field trip we went down into Basin 3, the west
basin, and unbelievably found breeding American Woodcock, a bird species in serious
decline due to loss of wetland habitat according to the NYS DEC. Going forward,
American Woodcock will enjoy a permanently protected home at Ridgewood Reservoir if
DEC chooses to adopt the findings of this report.

Statement of Finding Page 12


Interest within the community in developing Ridgewood Reservoir as a Nature
Preserve, Historic Site, and Educational Resource has exploded in recent hears. DEC's
commitment to protecting all of the wetlands within Ridgewood Reservoir is pivotal to
achieving these goals.

Thank you so much for your attention in this matter.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological and
cultural site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of
a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species,
are cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by
the Department. The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it
meets the criteria to be classified as a Class I wetland. Staff believes that the inclusion of
Wetland B-3 will improve the accuracy of NYC Park's CEA application, and Staff looks forward
to reviewing it.

Comment 15: Last year the Parks Department drafted an application for Critical
Environmental Area (CEA) designation but the wetland in Basin 3 was omitted from the
mapping. We successfully argued for a delay in submitting the application pending DEC
wetland determination. So not only will this determination affect protection of Basin 3 as a
wetland, it will also affect protections offered by the CEA designation.

Staff Response: The wetland map contained in NYC Park's CEA application was taken
from the NWI, produced by the USFWS. It is meant to provide the public with an estimate of
where wetlands might be located and of their size and shape. It is not meant to be definitive,
rather it's findings are subject to field verification. The NWI correctly identified locations of
Wetlands B-1 and B-2 within Basins 1 and 2, but failed to identify Wetland B-3 in Basin 3.

Statement of Finding Page 13


The following comment was included in a letter to the Depmiment from Brooklyn Bird
Club Council Member Peter G. Dorosh:

Comment 16: The purpose of this letter is to advocate for the preservation of
Ridgewood Reservoir's three basins under the Class One freshwater wetland status. It is
vitally critical for the sake of wildlife, namely birds that seek shelter, water, and food in
Ridgewood Reservoir's habitats. At the March 5 th meeting you spoke, one key sentence
struck out in your presentation that I like to emphasize: "a location of unusual
significance". Since I am not an expert on plant biology or its flora and ecological
dynamics, I want to instead - upon my 43 years experience as a birder - focus my opinions
on the avian importance this critical location presents. One element is the significance of
urban setting environment; the other element is the concept of "Stopover Sites".

As you may know, urban green settings are critical to birds. Outside of Ridgewood
Reservoir's location, uninhabitable industry and concrete civilization reign. Birds
gravitate to dark areas like green spaces and parks during their nightly migratory travels,
oftentimes exhausted and hungry and they have little elsewhere to go except small green
pockets that are a godsend to their survival. This observation is evident in rich birding
locales like nearby migrant traps Prospect Park, Forest Park and Central Park among the
fragmented green landscapes. Evidence cited in Seerwagen's and Slayton's significant
report appearing in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120(2):296-303, 2008 MASS
CHANGES OF MIGRATORY LANDBIRDS DURING STOPOVERS IN A NEW YORK
CITY PARK authored by CHAD L. SEEWAGEN AND ERIC J. SLAYTON support
Ridgewood Reservoir's role as an Urban migratory setting. A key conclusion by
Seerwagen and Slayton stated: "City parks often represent the only stopover habitat
a·vailable to migrants encountering North America's vast metropolitan areas. It is
therefore important to learn whether these areas are providing migrants with resources
they need. This study provides evidence of migrants gaining body mass through the
morning hours in Bronx Park, suggesting that an urban habitat is serving as a suitable

Statement of Finding Page 14


stopover site. It also highlights the need to conserve and properly manage the green spaces
remaining within cities along major flyways."

Stopover Sites therefore are critical safe havens for birds. Ridgewood Reservoir
qualifies as a significant stopover site within the Atlantic Flyway. At one time, breeding
grounds and wintering territories were thought by wildlife ecologists as the only spheres
worthy of conservation efforts. But now, Stopover Sites in between breeding and wintering
grounds are just as critical for preservation. During May migrations, Ridgewood
Reservoir's cool moist woods and wet areas from Basin One through Three offer refuge for
avian migrants. For example, particularly enticing of these habitats are attractive to .
thrush genera, ground specialists like Veery, Wood Hermit and Swanson's Thrushes.
Other species also benefit. Besides the breeding American Woodcock, water oriented and
moist woods species of Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler,
Ovenbird Hooded Warbler, Solitary Sandpiper, the now threatened Rusty Blackbird make
up a plethora of 158 historical species documented. Basin Three's large size acts no doubt
as a "catch basin" drawing in these many species.

Bird populations are declining; a primary reason for this distressing phenomenon is
habitat loss. The American Bird Conservancy's paper "Birdcalls Stopover Habitats and
what birds need on Migration" declared: "Habitat loss continues to be the leading threat to
migratory bird populations throughout their ranges. When birds are highly concentrated
during migration, loss or degradation of critical habitats for them may contribute
disproportionately to overall population declines." As one in a link of NYC green spaces in
the Atlantic Flyway - if Ridgewood Reservoir's overall territory isn't protected for
posterity, its future faces serious impact as a major bird sanctuary. I therefore urge you
and the NYSDEC to classify all three basins and perimeter areas as a Class One Wetland
Preserve.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological

Statement of Finding Page 15


site, in particular as a stopover site for migratory birds. The presence of a wide variety of plant
and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species, are cited as reasons
why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by the Department.
The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it meets the criteria
to be classified as a Class I wetland.

It should be noted that not all of the basins, only the wetland portions, are being mapped
as wetlands. These wetland, as well as their wetland adjacent areas, will be regulated under the
Freshwater Wetlands Act.

The following two comments were included in a letter to the Department from Heidi
Steiner, Brooklyn Bird Club member:

Comment 17: I am writing to convey my strong support for the wetland mapping of
the area within the basins of the Ridgewood Reservoir. In the borough of Queens, New
York City.

My association with the reservoir began 11 years ago when the Brooklyn Bird Club
was contacted to do a breeding bird survey of the area. We put together a team of
interested birders and made many trips to the site over the spring and summer of 2007. On
our first trip there we were dumbstruck by what we found. We all felt like we had
stumbled upon a hidden wonderland full of habitat unlike any other in New York City. IN
those first few months we observed that well over 100 species of birds relied on this 50+
acres of urban green space for food, water, shelter or nesting habitat. Over the course of
that spring we confirmed that 20 bird species nested there, an additional 15 species
probably nested there and another 3 species were possible nesters (as determined by the
NYS Breeding Bird Atlas). Several of these species such as the American Redstart, the
Yellow Warbler and the American Woodcock do not commonly breed in NYC as there are
few places here that meet their requirements for nesting. Since that first survey and

Statement of Finding Page 16


additional 52 bird species have been added to the list of those observed at the reservoir.
The Ridgewood Reservoir and other city parks are so important not only for nesting birds
but for all the birds that migrate along the Eastern Flyway. City parks are absolutely
essential for the survival of migrating passerines, whose numbers are in rapid decline.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on thy value of the Reservoir as an important ecological site, in
particular as a stopover site for migratory birds. The presence of a wide variety of plant and
animal species, including several threatened and endangered species, are cited as reasons why it
is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by the Department. The
presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it meets the criteria to be
classified as a Class I wetland.

Comment 18: When we learned that the New York City Parks Department had plans
to develop the basins, particularly basin #3 into active sports facilities we felt strongly that
we had too object. For 10 years we have worked to preserve the habitat within the basins
for the animals that depend on it for their existence. There is so little land in the.
metropolitan area that can support substantial wildlife and this is an opportunity to protect
some land that nature has reclaimed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter of extreme importance to the birding
community and to the Brooklyn and Queens community at large.

Staff response: Staff is not aware of any current plans by NYCDPR to develop the site as a
sports facility or to build any new structures or roadways on the site. All proposed activities
within wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas would require permits from the
Department, and no permit applications for the site have been received to date.

The following comment was included in a letter to the Depai1ment from David Haase from
Brooklyn, NY:

Statement of Finding Page 17


Comment 19: I am writing in support of wetland designation of the three basins of the
Ridgewood Reservoir. I attended your March 5th presentation on your findings as to the
presence of wetlands in the basins. I was very gratified that you found two and one half of
the basins met the New York State criteria for freshwater wetland designation.

With this finding in hand, the reservoir now has an excellent chance of remaining a
natural area for passive recreation and a spot for rejuvenated natural ecology.

Thank you for your good work.

Staff response: Staff appreciates all public support for this effort.

The following comment was included both in a letter to the Department from (1) Alexis
Clements from Brooklyn, NY; (2) a letter to the Department from Andrew Land of Brooklyn,
NY; (3) a letter to the Department from William Weisman; (4) a letter to the Department from
Tom Stephenson; and (5) a letter to the Department from Arie Gilbert, President- Queens
County Bird Club Inc.:

Comment 20: I/We strongly support a formal determination to map all three basins at
Ridgewood Reservoir as Class 1 freshwater wetlands. The Reservoir is an ecological and
cultural treasure for our community. There are 8 unique ecological zones within its three
basins. Its flora and fauna encompass 156 bird species and 175 species of plants including
3 that are endangered in New York State. Its importance is underscored by its proximity
to Jamaica Bay since many of those avian species migrate on the Atlantic Flyway and
depend on the availability of freshwater from the pond in the middle basin and
surrounding forest and wetlands.

Its unique cultural significance was recently underscored, when the Reservoir was

Statement of Finding Page 18


added to the State and National Historic Registers through the efforts of the educational
not-for-profit NYC H20.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological and
cultural site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of
a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species,
are cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by
the Department. The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it
meets the criteria to be classified as a Class I wetland. Staff believes that the inclusion of
Wetland B-3 will improve the accuracy of NYC Park's CEA application, and Staff looks forward
to reviewing it.

The following comment was included both in (1) a letter to the Department from Alexis
Clements from Brooklyn, NY; (2) a letter to the Department from Andrew Land of Brooklyn,
NY; (3) a letter to the Department from Tom Stephenson; (4) a letter to the Department from
NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.; and (5) a letter to the Department from Arie Gilbert,
President- Queens County Bird Club Inc.:

Comment 21: Last year, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYCDPR) drafted
an application for Critical Environmental Area designation. The community successfully
argued for a delay in submitting the application pending DEC wetland determination.
This determination will affect protection of Basin 3 as a wetland, and will also extend
protections offered by Critical Environmental Area designation.

With the wetland mapping and Critical Environmental Area designation, both of which
NYC DPR now seems to support, success in our fight to ensure long term protection for
Ridgewood Reservoir will have been achieved. NYC DPR, hopefully with NYC H20 as a
partner, can finally pursue the development Ridgewood Reservoir as a protected
community resource that can serve as a nature preserve, historic site, and educational

Statement of Finding Page 19


resource.

Staff Response: Mapping of these wetlands under the Freshwater Wetlands Act will
provide them, along with their wetland adjacent areas, with regulatory protection. Designation
of the site as a CEA will afford the site with additional protection under SEQRA.

The following comment was included in a letter to the Department from NYS Senator Joseph
P. Addabbo, Jr.:

Comment 22: I would like to take this opportunity to advocate for the formal
determination to map all three basins located at the Ridgewood Reservoir as Class 1
Freshwater Wetlands. I join many of my constituents and supporters of the reservoir in
believing that the Ridgewood Reservoir is both an ecological and cultural asset to the
community.

According to NYC H20, a not-for-profit educational group, there are eight unique
ecological zones within the reservoir's three basins, while the area's flora and fauna include
156 species of birds and 175 plant species - including three that are endangered here in
New York State. The reservoir's proximity to Jamaica Bay allows avian species that
migrate on the Atlantic Flyway that depend on the freshwater from the pond in the middle
basin as well as the surrounding forest and wetlands a safe haven.

Staff Response: Staff agrees on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological and
cultural site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of
a wide variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species,
are cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by
the Department. The presence of threatened and endangered species is cited as a reason why it
meets the criteria to be classified as a Class I wetland.

Statement of Finding Page 20


The following comment is included in a letter to the Department from Alyssa Cobb
Konon, of the NYCDPR, on behalf of Commissioner Silver:

Comment 23: Thank you for your letter to Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, dated
February 20, 2018, and the accompanying notice regarding Ridgewood Reservoir, the
former water supply facility located within Highland Park in the Boroughs of Brooklyn
and Queens. Commissioner Silver has asked me to respond to you about the action
referenced above.

Ridgewood Reservoir was constructed in 1858 and served as part of the water
supply system for Brooklyn until 1959. It is divided into three basins separated by
embankments and has been substantially drained for many years. During those years,
since being taken off-line as a water supply source, the reservoir has transitioned into a
naturalized area that is unique within New York City and it serves as an important
ecological, historical and recreational resource.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) is the lead
city agency advancing the designation of Ridgewood Reservoir as a Critical Environmental
Area, pursuant to the provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review Act. To
support this designation and the proposed amendment to the freshwater wetland maps for
the reservoir, NYC Parks staff joined with NYSDEC staff to map the wetlands there.

We're confident about the accuracy of the resulting maps and have no significant
concerns about the proposed amendment. Further, we understand that once the proposed
amendment has been made, activities within the mapped wetlands and 100-foot wetland
adjacent area, will be subject to regulation under the Freshwater Wetlands Act.

Staff Response: Staff thanks NYCDPR for its assistance in delineating the wetland
boundaries and in producing the draft wetland maps. The mapping of freshwater wetlands

Statement of Finding Page 21


within Ridgewood Reservoir will offer it protection under New York State's Freshwater Wetlands
Act, Article 24 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). All proposed activities within
wetlands or their regulated wetland adjacent areas would require permits from the Department,
and no permit applications for the site have been received to date.

Staff agree on the value of the Reservoir as an important ecological, cultural site, and historic
site. Its inclusion on the State and National Historic Registers, as well as the presence of a wide
variety of plant and animal species, including several threatened and endangered species, are
cited as reasons why it is of unusual local importance and therefore eligible to be mapped by the
Department.

C. Recommendations of Final Proposed Amendment


After consideration of all material contained in the record, Region 2 staff recommend to
the Commissioner that the final Freshwater Wetlands Maps for Kings and Queens Counties be
amended to add Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3, all Class I wetlands, to Queens County Map 4 of 10
and Kings County Map 2 of 6. Region 2 staff completed wetland delineation and wetland
determination investigations, at the request of property owners, within proposed Wetlands B-1, B-
2 and B-3. The results of those investigations are reflected in the final wetland map. The
Department's final mapping for Wetlands B-1, B-2 and B-3 is shown in the map in Exhibit 1.

Statement of Finding Page 22


EXHIBIT 1

Statement of Finding Page 23


Ridgewood Reservoir: Proposed Wetland Map Amendments

,.
"'.l··
,:
.,,..;

>/?�
, .,• !

8
Legend
• Welland Data Points
Ridgewood_Reservoir_Site_Boundary
Ridgewood Reservoir Wetland Boundary
--
0 0.03750.075 0.15

1 inch= 417 feet


0.225 0.3
Miles

Disdaimer: This map was prepared by the New York


State Department of Environmental Conservation using the
WYORK
TEOF
Department of
most current data available. It is deemed accurate but is not
guaranteed. NYS DEC is not responsible for any
ORTUNITY Environmental
inaccuracies in the data. Please contact the designating
authority for additional information regarding
Conservation
legal boundary descriptions.

Statement of Finding Page 24


CCU CORRESPONDENCE#: 201804005
GOVERNOR'S NUMBER:
correspondent:
ANTHONY WILKINSON
DEC - DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
625 BROADWAY
5TH FLOOR
ALBANY, NY 12233

ADDRESSED TO: Commissioner


CORRESPONDENCE DATE: 10/4/2018

SUBJECT:
FILING AMENDED FRESHWATER WETLANDS REGULATORY MAPS FOR KINGS AND QUEENS
COUNTIES
ROUTE DATE ACTION ROUTE TO DUE DATE
10/24/2018 For signature COMMISSIONER SEGGOS

Notes:

CC:
· ��(C��wT�fQ}
OCT 2 b 2018
New York State
Department of Environmental conservation
Administration
10-17-1 (6/97) - q

TO: Commissioner

The attached is submitted for your signature by

R. Jacobson

C. Nieder

T. Wilkinson

M. Stefanucci

J. Drabicki

T. Berkman

K. Lynch

B. Seggos

* Please return to Lu in DFW for any edits &


distribution. Thanks.

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