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Citizen Participation

Get Involved!

Enjoying the outdoors

Clean air to breathe. Clean water to drink. Lakes and streams, parks and playgrounds for everyone to enjoy. A cleaner and greener New York is everyone's job.

DEC encourages you to get involved especially when environmental decisions are being made that will impact you, your family and community. Your opinion matters and you can be part of the process. In fact, in some cases, it's actually the law that you be notified about environmental projects that directly impact you.

Being part of the process is especially important if your area has endured more than its fair share of environmental problems. Your input will help better protect the environment, and help DEC work more effectively on your behalf.

A Citizen Participation Handbook provides a basic guide for what you can expect, how to get involved and how to stay informed during the project. If you want to find out more about current DEC projects or be on a project's contact list, join our listserve. Email the Bureau of Public Outreach for more information about current DEC projects, meetings and events in your area and how you can get more involved.

Knowledge is Power!

Availability Session

The key to getting involved and having your voice heard is to learn more

a.) about a project
b.) how decisions are made and
c.) how to get your ideas to the right people and at the right time.

Each DEC office across the state has a Citizen Participation Specialist whose job includes answering your questions or getting you to the person who can answer your questions. Citizen Participation Specialists are experts in listening to citizen's concerns, facilitating public involvement, and ...

Attending a public meeting

to make sure you know what's happening.

Whether it's helping you understand a public notice, knowing when a public meeting will be held or when written comments need to be submitted, we're here to help.

Email the Bureau of Public Outreach for more information about current DEC projects, meetings and events in your area and how you can get more involved.

How to Get Involved

Most environmental cleanup projects follow a very specific step-by-step process. Before any actual cleanup work begins, people who live close by or are interested need to be told what the situation actually is, how you can be involved and what the plan is to fix the situation.

The State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) approval process and is used for important projects. Clean up projects usually follow a process described in the Citizen Participation Handbook. The person at DEC in charge of the cleanup is responsible for making sure people affected by the project are notified early on in the process so they can find out what is going on, get and say what they think about the project during this review process. Sometimes, a public meeting will be held to give more detailed information on the project and give you the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.

There are generally five steps in the SEQR review process. These steps are:

Step 1:
An application for a project is submitted. It is reviewed for possible impacts on the environment. If there are potential significant impacts on the environment associated with the proposed project, the review proceeds to step 2.

Step 2:
The results of this environmental review are available for citizens to comment on and identify further concerns. This is the "scoping" process.

Step 3:
All of the comments are collected and used to develop a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). This document addresses all of the potential impacts and concerns related to the proposed project.

Step 4:
The citizens then have an opportunity to review and comment on this DEIS which includes proposed alternatives to the project.

Citizen making a comment at public meeting

Step 5:
A Final Environmental Impact Statement, which usually includes the DEIS, any additional information, citizens comments and the Department's responses to these comments, is used to make the decision.

If you want to stay updated on the status of the project, you should contact your local DEC office. This is the best way to make sure you are receiving the most current and accurate information.

If you are having trouble finding a person to help you, you can contact DEC's Bureau of Public Outreach or call 518-402-8044.

What if I'm interested in another environmental issue?

Usually the place to start is your local DEC Office. Each DEC region has a Citizen Participation Specialist who can answer your questions and tell you who to contact about a project you are interested in.

Environmental Notice Bulletin gives the notices of important meetings, hearings and document reviews. It is published weekly on Wednesdays and contains notices required by environmental law such as public hearings including those related to SEQR actions, Environmental Impact Statements (draft to final), DEC rule making, and specialized notices required by environmental law.

View proposed regulations that are open for comment.

tree plugs

Trees For Tomorrow! Turn your yard into a desirable habitat for birds and other wildlife! Call or visit Saratoga Nursery to find out what native tree plugs are available year round and when the native tree seedling programs start.

More about Citizen Participation:

  • Community Air Screen Program - If you are concerned about what is in the air in your neighborhood, check out the Community Air Screen Program.
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  • Office of Communication Services
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    Albany, NY 12233
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