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History of DEC

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Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signing DEC legislation
April 22, 1970 -- Governor Nelson Rockefeller signing
legislation creating DEC

New York celebrates DEC's 50th anniversary in 2020!

On April 22, 1970, Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed legislation to create the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and marked our first Earth Day. On July 1, 1970, we opened the doors to this newly formed agency.

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner Basil Seggos and those before them, New York has made remarkable progress in reducing air, land and water pollution, protecting 1.5 million acres of open space for future generations, and assisting the recovery of the bald eagle and sturgeon from virtual extirpation.

While New York's air, water and land are cleaner today, we still face several environmental challenges, including climate change which poses an existential threat to our way of life. As we look back and take stock of our accomplishments, we also look forward to building upon our successes and tackling these challenges in the next 50 years.

Read the full timeline (PDF) tracing DEC's history and various environmental milestones throughout the decades.

Al Gote and Andrew Cuomo signing legislation
July 18, 2019 -- Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined by former
Vice President Al Gore, signs the nation-leading Climate
Leadership and Community Protection Act and executes the
nation's largest offshore wind agreement and the single largest
renewable energy procurement by any state in U.S. history.

Upcoming Events

To celebrate DEC's anniversary, the agency is hosting special events and challenges across New York State. Check back soon for details.

More about History of DEC:

  • Snapshots of DEC - Weekly highlights of DEC's accomplishments from the past 50 years
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  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8013.
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