FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2000
Contact: Carol W. LaGrasse
Property Owners' Victory!
DEC WITHDRAWS CONTROVERSIAL SARATOGA COUNTY WETLANDS MAPS
The 4,264 property owners who had received notices early in 1999 that DEC had discovered wetlands on their property have just received good news! Letters dated November 16 that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sent to all of these wetlands owners announce that the new DEC wetlands maps for Saratoga County have been withdrawn.
This means that DEC's official wetlands maps updated for Saratoga County in 1987 are still in force, rather than the 1999 maps, which would have expanded jurisdictional wetlands by over 20,000 acres.
"DEC's withdrawal of the new wetlands maps is a great victory for the property owners in Saratoga County, who rallied many times during 1999 to defeat the maps," said Carol W. LaGrasse, the president of the Property Rights Foundation of America, a national organization based in nearby Stony Creek, New York, which helped the property owners to organize.
Ms. LaGrasse warned, however, that the property owners should stay organized and remain vigilant to keep DEC at bay. "The agency can easily divide and conquer property owners in various parts of the state by re-mapping small local areas piecemeal," she said. "Or DEC could even come back at a later date to do a full Saratoga County re-mapping if the region lacks the present strong representation in the legislature."
After the 1999 re-mapping, Assemblyman Robert G. Prentiss, who represents parts of Saratoga and Albany Counties, held press conferences expressing his concern for the owners of the newly declared wetlands. This year Mr. Prentiss submitted legislation to reform New York State's wetlands law to make it fairer to all wetlands owners. The Prentiss bills would provide tax relief, voluntary agreements involving fair compensation, and help to wetlands owners to pay for the costly process of appealing wetlands boundaries DEC mapped on their property.
"It is important that wetlands property owners realize that reform of the New York State wetlands law is still essential, even with the new Saratoga County maps withdrawn!" emphasized Ms. LaGrasse. "DEC still retains the power to issue arbitrary maps and impose arbitrary individual delineations, with property owners left holding the bag for the cost of owning property that they cannot use in a practical sense."