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SECTION 11-0539
New York natural heritage program
Environmental Conservation (ENV) CHAPTER 43-B, ARTICLE 11, TITLE 5
§ 11-0539. New York natural heritage program.

1. There is hereby established within the department the New York
natural heritage program. The program is charged with:

a. analyzing existing sources of information, monitoring and taking
censuses of plant and animal populations, and cooperating with other
public agencies and scientific and educational institutions, including
the New York state museum and the office of parks, recreation and
historic preservation, to identify the location and status of plant and
animal species and ecological communities, with an emphasis on rare
species and rare ecological communities;

b. developing systems for ranking the state and global rarity of plant
and animal species and ecological communities and producing lists of
such rankings in consultation with the state biological survey and other
appropriate entities and individuals; and

c. maintaining comprehensive data management systems integrating
information on the location and status of rare plants, animals, and
ecological communities, and analyzing and interpreting such information
for the purpose of conserving and managing the state's biological
diversity.

2. Upon request, and subject to the provisions of subdivision four of
this section, the department shall provide information from the New York
natural heritage program to other state agencies, public authorities,
counties, towns, villages, cities and landowners or their authorized
representatives.

3. The department may contract with a private entity to administer the
New York natural heritage program.

4. Notwithstanding the provisions of article six of the public
officers law or any other provision of law, the department may deny
access to inspection of records, data or information collected or
maintained by the New York natural heritage program that identify
locations or habitats of rare, threatened or endangered species or
ecological communities where the destruction of such habitat or the
removal of such species therefrom would impair their ability to survive,
provided, however, that the commissioner may permit access to such
records, data or information to persons, educators, schools or
universities engaged in legitimate scientific and academic research.

5. No provision contained in this section shall in any way be
construed to diminish or extend the department's authority to protect
threatened or endangered species of wildlife or rare, threatened or
endangered species of plants pursuant to sections 9-1503, 11-0535 and
11-0536 of this chapter or any other provision of law.

6. Nothing in this section shall authorize any person to enter private
land without the permission of the private landowner.

7. State-owned waters, lands or portions thereof may be designated as
natural heritage areas in order to conserve and manage plants, wildlife
or ecological communities, with an emphasis on rare plants, wildlife,
and ecological communities which support such plants or wildlife.

a. For purposes of this title, a site shall be eligible for
designation as a "natural heritage area" if it matches one or more of
the following criteria:

(i) provides habitat for "endangered species" or "threatened species"
as defined in section 11-0535 of this title for animals and 9-1503 of
this chapter for plants;

(ii) provides habitat for rare species where rare means species ranked
as S1, S2 or S3 under criteria developed pursuant to paragraph b of
subdivision one of this section; or

(iii) contains "significant ecological communities" where such term
means all rare ecological communities as well as the best examples of
common communities.

b. Any property designated as a natural heritage area shall be
described and depicted upon a map. The description shall include a
narrative setting forth the plants, animals or ecological communities
present on the property. The department shall make maps depicting
natural heritage areas available for public inspection except as
provided in subdivision four of this section.

c. Designation may be accomplished by the head of any state agency or
entity having jurisdiction over state lands or waters for such
appropriate properties as may exist within their respective
jurisdictions and consistent with their respective missions, provided
the commissioner is consulted, and approves, prior to such designation.

d. A designating state agency or entity shall publish notice
concerning the designation of a natural heritage area in the
environmental notice bulletin prior to such designation. Such notice
shall provide for a thirty day public comment period following
publication of the notice.

e. The head of any state agency or entity having jurisdiction over
state lands or waters previously designated as natural heritage areas
may seek to remove all or a portion of such lands or waters from such
designation provided, however, that prior to such removal the
commissioner publishes a finding that the designated area or portion of
such area no longer meets the criteria in paragraph a of this
subdivision. Such finding shall be published in the environmental notice
bulletin and shall provide for a thirty day public comment period
following publication of the notice.