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Conservation Fund and DEC's Resources to Implement It's Mission

CFAB Correspondence

The following is a letter from DEC Commissioner Martens to the Chairman of Conservation Fund Advisory Board, Mr. Jason Kemper. A printable PDF Version ( 485 KB) is also available to view.

Thank you for your letter dated May 22, 2013. Your letter raises important issues regarding the use of the Conservation Fund and the DEC's resources to implement its mission.

First, let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the opportunity to work with you, the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB) and other stakeholders to promote outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing and trapping in New York State. The Governor took a substantial step forward this year to promote New York State as a destination for outdoor recreation. With your support, the executive budget reformed the structure used by DEC to issue hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. New York State now can boast a streamlined user-friendly system for issuing such licenses. We have also embarked on a multi-year program to enhance access to state lands for all New Yorkers and to provide connections of these state lands to the host communities. Your continued support of these and other efforts to benefit New York's sportsmen and women and your continued involvement with my staff on these issues are appreciated.

As you know, DEC is holding an academy for the Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) and the Division of Forest Protection. This is the first academy held by DEC in over four years. You correctly note that DEC has funded thirty-two Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) recruits from the Conservation Fund. These positions are sorely needed in order to fulfill our responsibility to promote compliance with New York's hunting, fishing and trapping laws. We expect that ECOs graduating from the 2013 Academy will continue to have their salaries and fringe benefits paid from the Conservation Fund. We also expect that some of the Academy expenses will be paid for using Conservation Fund dollars, but the exact amount is unknown at this point in time.

DEC has been and will continue to be diligent in tracking the level of effort by DLE to support fish and wildlife goals. As a group, ECO's dedicate more of their time to fish and wildlife purposes than the Conservation Fund pays for in helping deliver the program. Table I below shows DLE's level of effort over the last five years exceeding the percentage of support for DLE's activities provided by the Conservation Fund.

Table 1. Division of Law Enforcement Effort in Support of the Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Program
SFY Total DLE Expenditures for FW&M Conservation Fund Expenditure DLE Percentage of Effort for FW&M Percentage Paid by Conservation Fund
2007-08 27,751,428 9,502,804 65.54% 34.24%
2008-09 18,867,333 3,528,940 46.71% 18.70%
2009-10 22,303,451 1,048,225 55.87% 4.70%
2010-11 20,507,297 2,948,951 52.67% 14.38%
2011-12 31,755,992 5,917,959 50.80% 18.64%

Similarly, the total fish & wildlife effort -- i.e. broader than the Division of Law Enforcement-exceeds what the Fund pays for throughout the entire agency. The last level of effort report monetized the total level of effort at $120,686,314, of which the Conservation Fund paid $39,872,603. Other sources of funding that support the fish and wildlife effort include federal sources, such as Pittman-Roberts funds, State Wildlife Grants and the Fisheries Grant, as well as State capital funds and New York's Environmental Protection Fund. Together, these sources of funding support a diverse and robust program to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations and protect or preserve the ecosystems that support them; and provide high quality opportunities for hunting and angling; provide enforcement, education and outreach to promote these outdoor sports and ensure public safety.

You also requested information on DLE staffing levels for the past ten years and their source of funding. The table below summarizes the answers to your questions regarding staffing since 2003.

Table 2. Staffing from 2003-2013 Counts are from the beginning of each fiscal year. Currently, the Division of Law Enforcement has 88 of 305 positions funded under the Conservation Fund
Fiscal Year Division of Law Enforcement Staffing Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources Staffing DEC Staff
Conservation Fund (All Accounts) All Funding Main Account Marine Account All Funding Conservation Fund (All Accounts)
2003 127 319 219 9 115 119
2004 132 329 246 9 387 426
2005 137 341 245 9 385 430
2006 130 331 253 9 393 434
2007 133 336 250 10 401 432
2008 80 340 259 13 427 390
2009 10 336 189 12 415 225
2010 8 321 261 37 400 319
2011 8 404 233 32 351 286
2012 22 292 238 9 360 278
2013 62 279 239 10 363 322
w/Academy 88 305

We consider DLE's enforcement efforts key in the successful delivery of DEC's fish, wildlife and marine program and feel very fortunate to be able to fund the Academy recruits from the Conservation Fund. DEC welcomes CFAB's recommendations and we will continue to work together to promote programs and the delivery of services that meet the needs of the sportsmen and sportswomen throughout the state.

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