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Critical Environmental Areas (CEA) Resource Page

The information below contains information that led to the creation of the Critical Environmental Areas Summary Report in 2011. After public comment in December of 2011, the Town Board sent that report back to the Conservation Board for further review, and an expanded justification for each CEA.

Today, the Conservation Board is reviewing several CEAs each month, adding justification in an expanded report, and referring those that are ready to the Town Board for designation.  A legal Public Hearing will be scheduled by the Town Board as they receive nominees from the Conservation Board.

The Schedule and Information related to the Conservation Board’s review can be found here.

The Schedule and Project Information related to the Town Board can be found here.


Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) designates a CEA as an area that must have an exceptional or unique character with respect to one or more of the following:

  • a benefit or threat to human health;
  • a natural setting (e.g., fish and wildlife habitat, forest and vegetation, open space and areas of important aesthetic or scenic quality);
  • agricultural, social, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, or educational values; or
  • an inherent ecological, geological or hydrological sensitivity to change that may be adversely affected by any change.

Following designation, the potential impact of any Type I or Unlisted Action on the environmental characteristics of the CEA is a relevant area of environmental concern and must be evaluated in the determination of significance prepared pursuant to Section 617.7 of SEQR.

DRAFT: Dryden CEA Documents-

The following Critical Environmental Area document incorporates the analysis of a variety of data including Unique Natural Areas (as previously defined by the Unique Natural Areas Inventory  (Revised, January 2000) prepared by the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council), wetlands, steep slopes, scenic areas, topography, floodplains, etc. A full description of the process for creating the Critical Environmental Areas is described here (Designation Process and Intent).


Conservation Board Review

 (Final Documents and Drafts)


Original CEA Documents


Map includes:

  • Steep Slopes greater than 15%
  • Easements
  • State Lands
  • Unique Natural Areas
  • Floodzones
  • Preserves
  • State Wetlands
  • Federal Wetlands



This document includes information about each individual CEA, such as:

  • Description, Threats, and Recommended Mitigation
  • Acreage, Latitude and Longitude, UNA and Wetland numbers
  • CEA’s with DOT Planimetric Map, and Lot Lines



This map shows all of the town and includes:

  • CEA’s with DOT Planimetric data
  • Lot Lines
  • Roads


CEA Comments on Old Drafts-

Comments received by the Town Board in regards to CEAs can be downloaded here:
Comments1 (pdf)
Comments2 (pdf)

NOTE: At the January 18th Town Board Meeting, the Board passed a resolution closing the public hearing but declaring that written comments would continue to be accepted for a period of one month. Please send any further comments to the Town Supervisor at 93 E Main St, Dryden, NY 13053 OR to





  1. Comments  Martha Fischer   |  Tuesday, 17 January 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Dear Town Board,

    I own land and a home at 413 Hunt Hill Rd. I am intensely interested in the passage of this draft of Critical Environmental Area document. So much of Dryden’s land is watershed for our drinking water and that of the City of Ithaca that it behoves us to protect it in whatever way possible. Many many thanks to the Conservation Board for their hard work in putting it together. Please give your approval to the creation of the CEAs!

    Thank you for all YOUR hard work.


    Martha Fischer
    I live in Enfield, but my heart and land are in Dryden.

  2. Comments  pwrege   |  Tuesday, 17 January 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Dear Town Board,
    I have lived in the town of Dryden for nearly 40 years, most of it at my residence on Mt. Pleasant. As a field biologist and ecologist, I am particularly familiar with the CEA areas 22, 23, and 28, in which I have spent many hours teaching, in research, and in just pure enjoyment. On one level, each of these areas hold some of the most beautiful scenic vistas and intimate nooks and crannies of natural beauty to be found in Tompkins County and beyond. On another, these elevations are critically important as sources of water for the wells of hundreds of people in surrounding valleys, and for the Towns of Dryden and Ithaca. These areas are also becoming increasingly important as refuges for several species of salamanders and frogs. The forests, fields, streams, small farms, and residences are thus not only of high esthetic value, but also of high economic and health value for residents everywhere in the town. This is abundant reason to take great care in the use and modification of these areas, and I am confident that other designated areas of which I am less familiar are equally of special value. As difficult as times are right now, financially, we cannot behave without thought to the longer term character of our environment and it is commendable that the Town is trying to think strategically for all of our futures and the future of our grandchildren. PLEASE VOTE TO APPROVE ESTABLISHMENT OF THESE CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL AREAS.

    Peter H. Wrege
    452 Ringwood Road

  3. Comments  Tracy Marisa   |  Wednesday, 18 January 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Town Council members,

    The idea that about 2/3 of the town is “unique” is absurd. It’s an abuse of the meaning of the word.

    This is clearly an attempt to re-create Dryden as The Shire. We’re not hobbits and this isn’t Middle-earth; if we expect to have the money to pay for such things as municipal services and schools, we had best be prepared to not simply reject almost all development and growth out of hand—and I maintain such rejection is the objective of declaring vast areas of the town as “critical” to the environment with little thought given to how services will be provided in a future in which growth is essentially blocked.

    Please don’t establish CEAs. This is a case of “be careful what you wish for; you’re liable to get it.”

    Tracy Marisa
    Town of Dryden

  4. Comments  Henry Kramer   |  Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 5:58 pm

    The definition of “critical environmental areas” is so vague, and so encompassing, as the Dryden Board reads it, and as they admitted in their own handout on Jan. 18 vague, that almost every piece of land could be classified as a CEA. Land either is cleared, has trees, etc. so that any land they choose to put in it they consider a CEA. When a statute is this vague and interpreted to cover the vast majority of land, courts may set it aside when challenged. I doubt the legislature ever intended 2/3 of a whole town of about 100 square miles to be CEA.

    Unfortunately our town board instead of reading such statutes narrowly chooses to read them broadly. Another example is the term “heavy industry,” undefined in NY State law and banned without ever defining what it is. So, our residents will be burdened with yet another government restriction on land use. Our town is so busy “protecting” people that it will soon protect them out of all they thought they owned.

    Henry Kramer
    Town of Dryden

  5. Comments  Nancy Werany   |  Saturday, 28 January 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Recently moved to Dryden and learning about the issues in this area. I was really surprised at the high property taxation and when driving around I see so much “poorness”. Homes not kept up, barns and garages falling down, etc. I believe lack of industry is the reason – industry that would hire people. Seems to me the major industry in this area is Cornell. Seems to me that we should be encouraging industry here, for jobs and to spread out the tax burden. Open lands will not generate revenue needed to run government and government does always to need more money, doesn’t it?

    Making 65% of the land in the Town of Dryden a critical environment area will really mean more regulation of what people can do with their legally-owned and highly-taxed property.

    Another writer said the “salamanders and frogs” find refuge in these critical environmental areas. I think these animals will adjust on their own, they’ve been doing it long before we got here. When salamanders and frogs pay taxes then they should have their say.

    When the last taxpayer leaves, please turn out the light!

    Nancy Werany

  6. Comments  jpm14   |  Thursday, 02 February 2012 at 8:53 pm

    We have lived in the Town of Dryden for 28 years. We have looked at the recommended CEA boundaries.
    We are against adopting this proposal; to indicate that the majority of the town is “exceptional and unique” and needs governmental protection is absurd.

    Dryden has become a bedroom community and lost most of its agricultural heritage. Now it appears
    local government would like to regulate that open private land which is left. Except if it belongs to Cornell.

    Many of the areas that are private land are listed as “threatened by encroaching development”.

    Increasing the imposition of government entities over private land use will have an inverse effect on the tax base.

    Jay and Deborah Miller

  7. Comments  JohnRSteele   |  Wednesday, 05 December 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I have lived in the town of Dryden for the past fourteen years and having read the CEA and I completely disagree with the whole concept. While reading this document I could not help but think that it sounds eerily similar to the documents on the UN’s Agenda 21 site. This concept of CEA will do nothing for the residents of the Town of Dryden and should not be enacted. CEA is another example of government intrusion into the live of its residents and an attempt to control areas government has no business in. I would like to request that you not enact this type of plan and stop trying or intrude in the lives of residents.

    John Steele

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