Outreach :: State Lands Permits :: Underwater Preserves

Divers, historians, and archeologists have been reporting and recording sites of scientific and historical importance on the submerged lands of New York State for many decades. Recently efforts have been made to make these sites more accessible to the public as educational and recreational resources. While there are many concerns to be addressed when contemplating opening an underwater site as a recreational "preserve", this effort promises to provide an ever widening diving experience for those interested in the History of New York State.

Draft Policy Statement on Submerged Resource Preserves

The following statement was drafted in February of 1999 by the interagency committee established to review matters relating to submerged state lands:

We are committed to the preservation of our cultural heritage through the protection of archeological resources and historic environments located on public lands.

We subscribe to the belief that public lands belong to everyone, and that no individual or group of individuals has the right to unreasonably deprive others of access to these resources for research, educational or recreational purposes.

We recognize our responsibility for the preservation of these resources for the People of New York, now and for generations to come.

We realize that a significant component of these cultural resources exist on submerged public lands.

We endorse the enhancement of public appreciation of our shared cultural heritage through improved access to these submerged public lands for educational and recreational purposes.

Therefore, we support efforts to develop and maintain submerged cultural resource preserves that contain interesting and significant visible physical remains of our cultural heritage, so long as the broader goals of the preservation of these resources for the good of all New Yorkers, present and future, are maintained.

Flow Chart:

Proposal, Review and Approval of Submerged Lands Preserves

Applications proposing a preserve would follow this path:

1. Completed proposal form sent to NYS Office of General Services:

  • confirm that the site is, in fact, on state land.
  • determine whether any land management issues exist that would preclude opening site as preserve.

2. Copies of proposal sent to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Education Department, NYS Department of State, and NYS Office of Parks, recreation & Historic Preservation for review.

3. Any requests for additional information from applicant made by agency needing such information.

4. Meeting of interagency advisory panel called and proposal discussed.

5. Additional meetings as needed to support a determination.

6. If site has potential but needs research, artifact recovery or some other underwater activity before it can be opened, proposal is turned over to SED for development of permit and research plan.

6. When research and collections phase is completed (if needed), and if approved, proposal is delivered to managing agency for development as a submerged preserve.

Continued consultation and tracking by interagency panel.

Applicant Guidelines
Proposal Format - Submerged Lands Cultural Resource Preserve

[Applications may be submitted in letter form, but must include the detailed and specific information indicated below.]

1. Date

2. Name

3. Address

4. Phone number

5. Agency or organizational affiliation, if any

6. Site name, if any
[Use a site name if one has been used consistently in the past or if the site is of a known vessel.]

7. Map of site location
[Indicate site location on a USGS topographic map or navigation chart, or the equivalent.]

8. Detailed description of site

  1. physical condition/situation.
    [Indicate bottom features, position, visibility, etc.]
  2. cultural content.
    [List artifacts, manufactured materials, etc.]
  3. existing historical documentation
    [Include old photos, maps, clippings, manuscripts, etc.]

9. Listing of detached or detachable artifacts seen.
[Indicate just those loose, portable and unattached items.]

10. Narrative supporting this as a preserve.
[In some detail, state why you feel this location would make a good preserve, in terms of historic content, access, security and public benefit.]

11. Photographs, maps, drawings, video, etc., of site.
[This is essential and should translate to the reviewer some sense of the diving experience here.]

12. Assessment, if possible, of present public access/visitation.
[Can a diver get to the site easily and do many presently visit the site?]

13. Any known or apparent threats to the site.
[Is the site being damaged by natural forces, impacted by relic collectors or fishing equipment, or threatened by some proposed construction project?]

14. List of other "witnesses" who could support or confirm this proposal.
[Include letters of support if possible.]

Mail three copies to:
Alan Bauder
Submerged Lands Program
Bureau of Land Management
Office of General Services
Corning Tower
Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12242


Locate contact numbers for local historical agencies or regional transportation agencies in the government pages of your phone book. The main information number for the State Department of Transportation is (518) 457-6195.
Information on Vermont's Underwater Preserve Program:
General Description
Guidelines and Details

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