Department of Environmental Conservation

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Regulations and Enforcement

State laws contain mandates to protect the public health and safety. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) implements and enforces these legislative mandates, which are the fundamental source of DEC's powers.

The Regulatory Process

The Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) established DEC and authorizes its programs, however, 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 often includes public hearings.

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

Where to find DEC's Regulations and Prevalent Regulatory Requirements

  • Permits - information and application guidance relating to recreation and sporting activities, land access, waste transportation, and major environmental regulatory areas.
  • Sporting licenses - how to obtain licenses related to fish and wildlife management and recreational activities.
  • Pesticide Certification and Business Registration - standards and criteria for pesticide applicator certification, pesticide business registration for commercial application of pesticides, and commercial permits that are required for the sale of restricted use pesticides.

Protecting the Public and Environment

DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Forest Rangers protect New York's natural resources and people.

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.

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.

Environmental quality enforcement includes most areas that affect air, land or water quality violations. Some examples include:

  • investigating timber thefts;
  • improper use or application of pesticides; and
  • commercial vehicles producing excessive emissions.

Fish and wildlife enforcement includes:

  • addressing complaints of poaching;
  • the illegal sale of endangered species; and
  • checking hunters, anglers, trappers and commercial fishermen for compliance.
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.

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. Along with that, Forest Rangers also:

  • organize and conduct wildland search and rescue operations;
  • oversee wildland fire management (both prevention and suppression); and perform
  • education and outreach efforts--promoting an understanding of New York's wild lands and the proper use of its natural resources.

More about Regulations and Enforcement:

  • Hearings and Decisions - Information about upcoming hearings; links to an archive of hearing outcomes; and the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services docket management system