Protecting and enhancing New York’s natural resources through environmental conservation and sustainable practices

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

The department’s origins stem from national environmental concern that rose to a peak with the first Earth Day in 1970. That event prompted the state to enact legislation that consolidated the old Conservation Department, programs from the departments of health and several other commissions into one new agency.

DEC’s sworn Police Officers enforce environmental laws outlined in the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). See our regulations page for more information about ECL.

Its mission is to protect and enhance New York’s natural resources.

New York’s unique ecosystems and natural resources are invaluable assets that support healthy communities and contribute to a vibrant economy. The department’s programs protect and enhance these natural resources through acquisition, protection, conservation, restoration and management activities. It also manages four state wildlife management areas and operates two trout hatcheries, which produce one million pounds of fish annually.

Managing the state’s forest and land resources is an ongoing effort as development pressures grow, necessitating more thoughtful planning and management. The agency oversees nearly four million acres of public lands, or 13 percent of the state’s land area. It also administers the nation’s most extensive fish and wildlife restoration program. Its programs improve the health and vitality of estuarine habitats through education, training, stewardship, and research. In addition, the department’s program promotes the use of science to help people make informed decisions that are environmentally sustainable. It also provides education, training and recreational opportunities for the public.

Its goals are to protect human health and safety.

Environmental conservation is the “protection, restoration, and management of biological diversity, ecosystems and their natural processes in order to generate long-term benefits for current and future generations.” Biodiversity encompasses genes, species, ecosystems and their interactions. Environmental conservation aims to ensure that these interactions do not result in harm to human health and safety.

The most important goal of the Department is to protect human health and safety. This includes reducing environmental risks and hazards to humans by limiting pollution and developing renewable resources. It also involves educating citizens on the importance of environmental protection and sustainability.

Achieving the goals of environmental conservation requires an integrated approach that combines education, governance, sustainable land and resource management, collaboration, technological innovation, and economic incentives. These efforts are necessary to promote healthy environments, economic prosperity, and social well-being, including environmental justice. Moreover, they can help address climate change and its adverse effects on the environment and human society. This is accomplished through a combination of activities including research, advocacy, grants and partnerships.

Its programs are to protect water quality.

Water conservation is an important part of DEC’s mission to protect New York’s natural resources. The department’s programs encourage sustainable practices that help to minimize water use, lower climate-altering emissions, preserve outdoor recreation opportunities and promote agricultural productivity.

Water quality standards are developed and monitored to ensure that New York’s lakes, rivers and streams meet their intended uses. If a waterway is unable to meet these standards, the department develops and implements a study and plan to improve the water’s condition.

The Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2) is led by DEC in partnership with the departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets to assist municipalities in developing programs that proactively protect drinking water sources. The program matches up to 40 volunteer communities with a technical assistance provider at no cost to the community to guide them through the process of developing their own unique program. This is an exciting opportunity to protect public water supplies and support local jobs.

Its employees are to protect New York’s natural resources.

New York’s residents benefit from DEC employees who work to protect the state’s natural resources. These employees are a part of a diverse workforce that includes white collar professionals who pay dues to the Public Employees Federation and blue-collar workers who belong to the Civil Service Employees Association, as well as law enforcement officers who are members of the state’s Police Officers’ Benevolent Association.

These efforts help residents enjoy healthy lakes, forests, and rivers. The department also works with communities to improve waste management and energy efficiency, such as implementing household hazardous waste collection days and constructing permanent collection sites. In addition, the department offers competitive grants for municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to fund these projects.

As the nation’s private lands conservation agency, NRCS recognizes that climate change threatens America’s agricultural production and rural economies. NRCS works with farmers of all sizes and locations, including urban producers, to conserve their land for sustainable futures. For more information on how to work with NRCS, check out their Additional Resources page.

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