History of DEC- 2010s
DEC tackles urgent issues like preparing for the effects of climate change and controlling invasive species as the agency celebrates 40 years of dedication to protecting the environment. Major successes like preserving the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes are tempered by the loss of two environmental education centers due to austerity measures. New York continues to lead in reducing CO2 emissions from power plants and programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) serve as an example of how collaboration with other states, agencies and non-profit groups will be increasingly necessary for DEC to fulfill its mission as future environmental challenges unfold during uncertain economic times.
- In celebration of DEC's 40th anniversary, the agency's commissioner tours the state, highlighting the many environmental accomplishments DEC has helped make possible since its creation in 1970.
- New York's Invasive Species Council implements the first state classification system of non-native plants and animals to help prevent the spread of invasive species.
- Nine waterbodies in three regions are delisted from the state's Impaired Waterbodies List after DEC finds significant improvements in their water quality.
- After nearly five years and more than 30,000 deer samples with no additional cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) detected in New York, it appears the disease was successfully prevented from becoming established in the wild.
- The City of Rochester and the state agree to preserve the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes, Hemlock and Canadice.
- The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act becomes law, establishing the most comprehensive electronic waste (e-waste) product stewardship program in the country.
- Austerity measures caused by a large state budget deficit lead to the closing of Stony Kill Farm and Rogers environmental education centers. Only two centers, Five Rivers and Reinstein Woods, remain. Some wilderness trails and campgrounds are also closed to save on staffing and maintenance costs.
- DEC adopts a policy requiring some power and industrial plants to use closed-loop cooling systems, reducing incidental fish kills by more than 90 percent.
- RGGI member states hold their 10th auction of "carbon credits." Since 2008, proceeds from the 10 auctions have totaled about $777 million. New York's share is approximately $282 million for investment in programs to save consumers money, benefit the environment and build a clean-energy economy.
- EPA issues more stringent vehicle emission standards following the lead of 14 states, including New York.
- Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act becomes law, requiring manufacturers of some rechargeable batteries to collect and recycle the batteries statewide in a manufacturer-funded program at no cost to consumers.
- DEC issues a revised State Solid Waste Management Plan, proposing new ways for government, businesses and individuals to take a more sustainable approach toward waste management that reduces greenhouse gases and pollution, saves energy, and creates new environmental jobs. The plan sets the ambitious goal of reducing the average amount of solid waste per day that each New Yorker produces by 85 percent by 2030.
- Responding to ever-increasing use of the Internet, DEC launches an online version of its Turn In Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) hotline, previously available only by phone.
- DEC issues a statewide ban on the feeding of black bears in response to increasing conflicts between bears and people.
- The United Nations declares the International Year of Forests, highlighting and encouraging efforts to sustainably manage global forest resources.
- Meltwater from a snowy winter combines with relentless spring rains to bring severe flooding to several counties in northern and central New York. DEC provides assistance to both prevent damage during the floods and help with repairs afterward.
- Improved water quality allows DEC to reopen more than 3,000 acres of marine waters closed to shellfishing for decades on Long Island.
- Based on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents reported, the 2011 season tied with 2009 for New York State's safest year of hunting, thanks in part to DEC's free Sportsman Education courses.
- Regulations for chronic wasting disease (CWD) are amended to prohibit the importation of certain parts of white-tailed deer taken in the state of Maryland, where the disease was first reported in 2011. Emergency regulations prohibit importing certain parts of white-tailed deer and American elk from Pennsylvania.
- New York acquired a 2,146-acre parcel within the Adirondack Park to be added to the state's Forest Preserve and a 651-acre parcel outside the park to become a new state forest following modification of a Forest Conservation Easement allowing continued leasing of up to 220 camps.
- Under an agreement between NYSDEC and NYCDEP to improve the quality of New York harbor waters, New York City is investing approximately $187 million for the next three years and an estimated $2.4 billion in public and private funding during the next 18 years to install green infrastructure technologies to manage stormwater before it enters the city's combined sewer system.
- The 2012 Winter Bat Survey offers encouraging observations from the five hibernation caves in the greater Albany area, where numbers of little brown bats are stabilizing and, in three caves, increasing.
- Larvae of the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect, is found in 13 counties in New York State.
- To reduce the quantity of phosphorus entering the state's waters, a new state law limits the percentage of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and restricts the time of year and locations where fertilizers can be used.
- Spring wildfires are down 60 percent from the previous 10-year average prior to the 2010 burn ban.
- New York State and New York City renew a multi-state water management agreement to protect fisheries habitat in the Delaware River and mitigate peak flood levels, while preserving NYC's ability to provide sufficient high-quality water to more than nine million New Yorkers.
- Regulations to analyze possible environmental impacts and limit CO2 emissions from power plants near at-risk communities are the first in the country required for siting new major electric-generating facilities or expanding existing facilities.
- Two female lake sturgeon are discovered carrying eggs downstream of Oneida Lake; they are the first mature females found since state restoration work began nearly 20 years ago.
- The presence of the invasive spiny water flea-which feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are foods for fish and other native aquatic organisms-is confirmed in Lake George.
- New, special youth firearms deer season established for junior hunters ages 14 and 15 with a big game hunting license.
- Due to catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the state implements a Breach Contingency Plan for Long Island's barrier beaches. Resources and emergency permits are provided to affected communities across the state.
- A collaborative recovery effort returns the endangered gilt darter to the Allegheny River-the first time this fish has been in state waters in 75 years.
- After nearly a 30-year absence, deepwater ciscoes-or "bloater" fish-are reintroduced into Lake Ontario to improve food web stability and mitigate the negative impacts of invasive species.
Challenges for Today and Tomorrow
- Reducing CO2 Emissions: DEC will be challenged to achieve the goals for CO2 emissions reductions set by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
- Adapting to Climate Change: Responding effectively to the increasing possibility of more severe rain events, rising ocean levels and more summer days exceeding 90°F will be a challenge to the agency.
- Planning for Mineral Resource Development: Balancing protection of natural resources with development of mineral resources will be a challenge as pressure to develop domestic energy supplies increases.
- Planning for Renewable Energy Development: Pressures to develop renewable energy sources will create their own land- and water-use challenges for DEC.
- Restoring the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF): As pressure mounts to adjust spending priorities during difficult economic times, funding of the EPF is in jeopardy. The challenge will be to restore and maintain funding to the EPF so this important program can continue.
- Repairing Aging Water Treatment Plants: As water treatment plants that were built in the 1970s age, DEC will increasingly be challenged to see that critical repairs are made and progress in protecting our water resources continues.
- Evolving Environmental Law Enforcement: DEC will be challenged to keep pace with ever-improving law-enforcement technology and ever-expanding roles for officers in areas like public safety and homeland security since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Enforcing evolving environmental laws will also continue to be a challenge as government, industry, landowners, residents and recreationists wrestle with how best to protect the environment and conserve resources.
- Expanding Universal Access: DEC will need to balance expanding access to wild places for people of all abilities with preserving undeveloped wilderness.
- Wildlife Diseases: Continuing success in preventing further outbreaks of diseases like CWD, as well as containing the spread of diseases like VHS, white-nose syndrome and others will test the agency's resolve.
- Pollution Prevention: Integrating pollution prevention into all of its program activities, developing green chemistry business practices and educational materials, and developing additional alternatives for reuse and disposal of waste pharmaceuticals will challenge DEC going forward.
- Invasive Species: DEC will be challenged to finalize and implement a statewide Invasive Species Management Plan to address the environmental, economic and health threats posed in a globally connected world.