Photo by Tompkins County
One way that local agencies can protect special natural areas
in their communities is to designate specific geographic areas
within their boundaries as Critical Environmental Areas (CEAs).
CEAs are significant designations under the New
York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), which
requires local and state agencies to examine a proposal's environmental
impacts and methods of mitigation prior to committing to, funding,
or approving an "action" (be it a project, plan or policy).
When a CEA is designated, a written justification supporting
the exceptional or unique environmental characteristics of the
area, along with the area's mapped boundary, must be filed with
various State and local agencies. Once an area is designated as
a CEA, proposals to alter that area must specifically address
any potential impairments of the environmental characteristics
of the CEA.