Objection to DEP 2018 Proposed Changes to Recreation Rules

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NYCDEP is proposing changes to be made to the existing DEP Recreation Rules. The proposed changes contain two issues which stand out as misguided and faulty.

1) A prohibition on transfers of boats within or into a closed boat area.

DEP's stated reasons for the above proposal:

"Prohibits transfer of boat ownership within or into closed Boat Storage Areas and gives NYCDEP the ability to limit the number of transfers by an individual in a calendar year. - This is being added to reduce the number of boats stored in closed boat storage areas, enable those on the waiting lists to gain access to these areas, and reduce the administrative burden of processing excessive transfer requests. It also eliminates boat transfers that may be facilitating commercial uses of City property, which are not allowed without NYCDEP’s approval. "

A Prohibition on Transfers within a closed boat area will not address the reasons for this proposal given by the DEP, except that it would decrease DEP paperwork related to transfers.

- 75% of all EOH boat areas are already closed and increasing therefore this will affect all boats in a short time.

-Transfers into a closed boat area are already prohibited. Transfers within a closed boat area have no affect whatsoever on the total number of boats in the closed boat area. It will not reduce the number of boats.

- A prohibition does not reduce the waiting time on waiting lists.

- A prohibition does not impact any "commercial activity" because after a boat is transferred out a closed boat area replacement can not be put back on.

- Because this prohibition will eventually affect all EOH boat areas, it contradicts the existence of separate additional proposed changes concerning the number of transfers an individual boat owner can effect in a certain time period.

In contrast:

- A prohibition violates the personal property rights of the boat owners. The boats were acquired entirely at the boat owners' expense and registered with DEP in good faith that the Transfer system would allow them to recoup their expenditure if they chose to no longer boat on that reservoir.

- A prohibition violates the obligation that DEP has to allow boating per the 1905 Water Supply Act, as the Ownership Transfer system together with the Boat Tag system is what allows the "boating" to take place on the reservoirs.

- A prohibition creates undue hardship on boat owners who may move out of the area or out of state, or are under economic duress as they would not be able to divorce themselves from their ownership interest in the boat. It also creates undue hardship on the survivor(s) of boat owners who have passed away.

- A prohibition lengthens the waiting time on the waiting list as people who would normally transfer into a boat area would no longer be able to do so and remain on the list.

- A prohibition prevents people who wish to transfer into a boat area and own a boat, violating DEP"s obligation under the 1905 Water Supply Act to allow "boating" on the reservoirs.

A drastic rule of this nature should not be implemented unless the current boat owners are grandfathered and exempt, as well as to whom they may transfer.   

2) The 10ft Rule

"DEP has always recommended that fishing boats should not be stored within 10 feet of the high water mark at any reservoir or lake. This will now be a requirement."


A great number of boat areas are at over capacity and very crowded. In addition, many boat areas exist on sharp drop-offs, sharp inclines, and trees and brush closely approaching the shoreline. For these reasons boats are currently placed by the their owners as best they can under the circumstances taking into account the other boat owners' and mutual access. This proposed rule simply can not be complied with for reasons beyond the boat owners' control. In order to accomplish this, DEP would have to clear at least 15-20ft of shoreline of trees and obstructions at every boat area. DEP can not, and should not, implement a rule knowing that compliance is not physically possible.

In addition, this ruling is biased against the many permit holders who are older and/or have disabilities and health issues, unless DEP intends to exempt them.


The current Recreation Rules already state that "Boats shall not be stored in shoreline buffer zones, which are generally within ten(10) feet of the shoreline, but may be more or less than ten(10) feet as designated".

And the proposed wording reads:" A fishing boat must not be stored in shoreline buffer zones, which are within 10 feet of the High Water Mark of the shoreline or as otherwise designated by NYCDEP".

We fail to see the constructive difference between the two. By legal definition "shall" and "must" are synonymous, and we would expect DEP's Legal Department to be naturally aware of this. This unnecessary change of wording with ominous warning will cause a massive movement of boats currently stored into areas currently not used causing environmental damage and further overcrowding. 

A change of this type should only apply to new boats entering a boat area. Current boat owners should be grandfathered so as not to create unnecessary chaos at every boat area.

These two proposals do not address or solve the problems that DEP claims they do, and in fact creates greater problems which unnecessarily and negatively affects all current Access Permit and Boat Tag holders. Neither are changes that provide any good for the public or relate in any way to the maintenance and security of the Water Supply.

For the reasons cited above we urge DEP to rescind these two aspects of the Proposed Changes.

This petition is put forth by the Volunteer DEP Watershed Stewards of Westchesterfishing.com.


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