Lands and Waters
New York has an astonishing wealth of land and water resources:
New York's forests cover over 18.6 million acres
Today New York has more forest than it has had in the past 150 years. New York's forests serve as an important economic and recreational resource. Preserving and protecting our forests benefits local communities and industries, and the state as a whole.
Nearly 3 million acres are classified as Forest Preserve. Comprised of 2.6 million acres in the Adirondack Forest Preserve and 286,000 acres within the Catskill Forest Preserve, these lands represent a majority of all state owned property within the Adirondack and Catskill Parks
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) manages more than 770,000 acres of State Forests, which include Reforestation Areas, Multiple-Use Areas, Unique Areas and State Nature and Historic Preserves, throughout New York State.
Additionally, the Department also manages nearly 910,000 acres of conservation easements lands across New York State. More than 785,000 acres (86%) of these lands are located within the Adirondacks.
New York State is divided into 17 watersheds
New York State's watersheds, or drainage basins, are the basis for management, monitoring, and assessment activities.
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a body of water, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, sea or ocean. The watershed includes the network of rivers, streams and lakes that convey the water, as well as the land surfaces from which water runs off. Watersheds are separated from adjacent watersheds by high points, such as mountains, hills, and ridges.
Everyone lives in a watershed. It might be large or small. All watersheds are part of the bigger environment. What you do at your house affects everyone downstream and around you.
A Submerged Heritage
Preserve navigation buoy
New York State is richly endowed with more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, as well as portions of two of the five Great Lakes. These inland waterbodies serve as the drinking water supplies for large cities and small towns throughout the State, provide flood control to protect life and property, and support significant sectors of our economy including recreation, tourism, agriculture, fishing, power generation, and manufacturing.
Lakes, ponds and reservoirs also provide habitat for aquatic plant and animal life, and offer recreational opportunities such as swimming, fishing, and boating. The most significant lake resources in the state include the Great Lakes of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, Lake Champlain and the numerous Finger Lakes of central New York State.
Submerged Heritage Preserves are historic shipwrecks and other submerged archaeological resources marked by a round mooring buoy, which provides access to the site, and a barrel-shaped navigation buoy. New York State and federal laws make these resources the shared cultural and historic legacy and property of the people of New York.
New York has thousands of rivers and streams which carry water on to larger waterbodies. Overall, more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams cross the State.
An estuary is a place where salty water from the ocean mixes with fresh water from the land and creates a unique and special place for marine species to live, feed, and reproduce. New York's Marine District has several estuaries which are managed cooperatively by DEC with other state, local, and federal government agencies, the scientific community, and direct input from private citizens.
The Hudson River Estuary Program
The Hudson River Estuary Program seeks to protect and conserve the estuary's natural resources and ecosystem health, clean up pollution and other impairments, and promote public use and enjoyment of the river.
More about Lands and Waters:
- Forests - Programs to manage and protect New York State's privately and publicly owned forest lands
- Open Space - New York's Open Space Conservation Plan serves as the blueprint for the State's land conservation efforts. DEC's smart growth program encourages economic growth within the footprint of existing communities.
- Watersheds - Main bodies of freshwater and their watersheds in New York State.
- Lakes and Rivers - New York State has more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 7,600 lakes, ponds and reservoirs.
- Oceans & Estuaries - Protecting and managing New York State's marine and estuary resources
- Wetlands - Information on freshwater and tidal wetlands status, protection and mapping in New York State; where to see freshwater wetlands maps
- Groundwater - Groundwater is a critical source of water in New York State. Learn about groundwater including basic information, Primary and Principal Aquifers, groundwater resource mapping and quality monitoring, Long Island aquifers, the Divison of Water recommended pump test procedures, water supply well decommissioning recommendations, and the water well driller program.
- Dam Safety, Coastal & Flood Protection - Programs related to flood protection, floodplain development, dam safety, and coastal management.
- Water Withdrawal, Conservation & Drought - DEC programs for protecting New York's water supplies including water withdrawals (public, non-potable, agricultural), water well reporting, Water Well Contactor Program, water conservation, drought, and interbasin water diversions.
- Mining & Reclamation - Information about mining in New York, for general audiences and mine owners/operators.