New York

Protecting Against Coastline Development

Today, nearly 85% of New York State's population lives in a coastal region. We depend on these places for ports and marinas, trade and recreation, and their contribution to economic and environmental sustainability. But, too much development on and around our shorelines and coasts can, in turn, have a negative impact on natural coastal habitats like wetlands and beaches.

Coastal habitats have value for nature and humans alike. Wetlands are important fish and wildlife habitats and also help regulate water levels within watersheds, improve water quality, reduce flood and storm damages, and support hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities. Sandy beaches provide feeding and nesting grounds for waterbirds, but also mitigate storm damage and provide recreational opportunities.

Vanishing Wetlands?

So, what happens when our natural shoreline habitats disappear? The result is flooding, pollution, loss of recreational opportunities, and more severe storm impacts. Development in New York’s coastal zone is intense, and threats to our wetlands are looming:  

  • An increase in houses, roads and driveways means more pollution and contaminated runoff into our bays and harbors.
  • Manmade structures such as bulkheads result in loss of beaches and accelerate erosion nearby.
  • Global warming and sea level rise threaten our wetlands and beaches because intense coastal development has made their natural landward migration impossible.
How Is The Conservancy Facing These Threats?
  • Encouraging the state of New York  to reevaluate its coastal management plans through the creation of a Sea Level Rise Task Force.
  • Establishing coastal buffers and effective wetland protection regulations at the local and state levels, including protecting wetlands from modification for purposes of development and mosquito-control.
  • Discouraging local governments from permitting unwise bulkheading and other shoreline armoring.
What Can You Do?
  • Contact The Nature Conservancy to find out more about effective bulkhead alternatives.
  • Encourage your local government to prepare for disasters with a post-storm redevelopment plan.
  • Find out if Transfer of Development Rights, land trusts, and land banks would be useful to you in facilitating “strategic retreat."


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