Department of Environmental Conservation

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Regulations and Enforcement

The Environmental Conservation Law

The law that established DEC and authorizes its programs is called Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). The ECL and its subsequent amendments are passed by the NYS legislature to protect the public health and safety. DEC implements and enforces this law. The full text of New York's ECL is found on the New York State Legislative Information System; select "ENV Environmental Conservation" (leaves DEC's website) from the Consolidated Laws list to access the full text of the ECL.

DEC Regulations

Boat launching sites rules and regulations sign
Once regulations are in place, DEC
often provides further guidance to help
the regulated community comply.

While the ECL established DEC and authorizes its programs, it is made up of broad provisions that need to be defined and made explicit. DEC accomplishes this by drafting, promulgating and enforcing its environmental regulations. DEC presents proposed regulations for public comment, a process that may include public hearings.

DEC's regulations are found within Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). Title 6 is divided into 10 Chapters, listed on our regulations page. Follow those links for a breakdown of Parts within each Chapter.

DEC's Guidance and Policies

Guidance documents and policies provide interpretations of rules and regulations. Most guidance documents offer details about how to comply, and along with formal policies provide a uniform basis for compliance and enforcement across the state.

Enforcing the Rules and Protecting the Public and Environment

ECO checking hunting licenses
The ECO's mission encompasses two broad
enforcement areas: fish and wildlife; and
environmental quality. As such, ECOs will check
hunters for compliance.

DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Forest Rangers protect New York's natural resources and people and are at the forefront of enforcing environmental laws.

Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs)

ECOs are sworn Police Officers authorized to enforce all state laws, with special emphasis on enforcing New York's Environmental Conservation Laws, including those relating to environmental quality, hunting, fishing and trapping and protection of natural resources.

Forest Rangers

Forest Rangers are sworn Police Officers authorized to enforce all state laws, with special emphasis on Environmental Conservation Law and the protection of state lands and the public using state lands.

Rangers conducting a search
Forest Rangers protect the state's forests and the
people who use these natural resources from all
kinds of dangers and often conduct wildland search
and rescue operations.

If you have a situation where an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger is needed, call the Department's Public Protection Dispatch Center at 1-877-457-5680. You can also report an environmental violation online.


More about Regulations and Enforcement:

  • Regulations - Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR).
  • Proposed, Emergency, and Recently Adopted Regulations - A list of all regulations that are currently proposed or undergoing emergency adoption by the NYSDEC
  • Regulatory Agenda - This lists the regulations that may be proposed for adoption or amendment within this calendar year. The listing is a requirement of the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA)
  • Guidance and Policy Documents - Available guidance and policy documents from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Enforcement - Enforcing environmental laws; compliance; Environmental Conservation Officers and special enforcement units
  • Forest Rangers - Forest rangers protect public and private forest lands and the people who use these lands.
  • Hearing Decisions - Information about upcoming hearings; links to an archive of hearing outcomes; and the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services docket management system