Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Living the Green Life

Be a Friend of the Environment

Sign up for DEC Delivers

Enter email address:

As seasons change, so do environmental concerns. That's why we are here with monthly updates to help you Live the Green Life and be a friend of the environment. Follow us on social media (the links are in the footer of this page) and share your pictures and ideas with us by using #LiveGreenNY in your social media posts - we'd love to hear from you!

Thankful for Our Environment

From the heights of the Adirondacks to the scenic Catskills, the majestic waterfalls in Niagara to the powerful coastal waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and all that lies in between--we have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to our state's environment. No matter your favorite recreational hobby, New York holds something for everyone. That is why this November we are reflecting on how we can be thankful for our environment by protecting and enjoying our state's wildlife, forest, waterways and more.

Preserve the environment--Leave No Trace

Hiking essentials including boots, a compass, headlamp, backpack, and hat..
You may be planning to be home before dark, but prepare just in case.

It is important to get outdoors and have fun in the environment for our health and well-being. From hiking to hunting-- recreational activities abound. But the opportunity is also there to protect and preserve our environment. Leave No Trace Principles™ benefit our ecosystem, wildlife, and other outdoor adventurers and enthusiasts. It is easy to get started -- protect the outdoors by enjoying it responsibly. These small changes can have a big impact. Show your thankfulness for our environment by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace:

  • Plan ahead and prepare for your outdoor adventure.
    • Check the weather forecast, know any special rules or regulations for the site you want to visit, and carry the 10 essentials with you.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
    • Stay on designated trails and walk through mud, not around it.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
    • Many state lands don't have trash bins, so be prepared to take your trash home with you when you leave.
  • Leave what you find.
    • "Leave only footprints, take only photos."
  • Minimize campfire impacts
    • Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before walking away. Never leave campfires unattended.
  • Respect wildlife.
    • Give animals plenty of space and do not feed wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
    • Share trails and summits, be kind to those you meet, and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Read more about the Seven Principles on the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website. (link leaves DEC's website).

Appreciate our environment--nature and wildlife

Fish year around. November 11, 2020, is the next free fishing date.

Get up close to wildlife by taking up hunting or fishing (properly licensed and in-season). Hike or climb trails and mountain ranges with breathtaking views throughout New York. Snow does not stop outdoor opportunities--you can ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile in a natural winter wonderland. New York and our environment have a lot to offer and be thankful for.

  • Hunt deer, bear, turkey, waterfowl, and more.
  • Hike on open trails and stay on designated paths.
  • Ice fish where conditions are safe and with an appropriate license. Read about free fishing days.
  • Bird watch to see what birds you can spot. Keep an eye out for our state's own bluebird.
  • Ski and snowshoe to enjoy all the snow has in store. You will get some great exercise as well.
  • Snowmobile on designated trails and follow safety rules as you travel to your destination.

Want to learn more? DEC provides additional information on prepping to enjoy your outdoor adventure safely. Find places to go.

Did you know that...

  • Around 700,000 residents and 50,000 nonresidents hunt in New York.
  • Wearing hunter orange is highly recommended. New York State law has some hunter orange requirements for youth and their mentors. But in general, it is a good idea for everyone recreating in the woods--wearing an item such as a hunter orange vest or hat while taking part in outdoor activities, such as walking or hiking, will also increase your visibility and potential safety as well.
  • Many of our state's trails are accessible to people with mobility issues.
  • A minimum of three to four inches is the general rule for safety when ice fishing. Ice thickness can vary so check frequently and stay safe.
  • The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics provides additional guidelines for winter recreation. (Link leaves DEC's website). Avoid hiking in ski or snowshoe tracks, and pay special attention to avalanche warnings. Be sure to follow these tips and show respect for trail conditions.

Be a Friend of the Environment--November Tips

A sustainable Thanksgiving -- From planning your shopping list, to using reusable containers and dinnerware, there are actions you can take to be more sustainable this Thanksgiving. You can also help reduce wasted food this holiday time. Get creative with leftovers and try new recipes.

Conservationist magazine next to a mug.
The Conservationist Magazine makes a great gift.

Green giving -- Looking for a green gift for that nature enthusiast, hiker, hunter, camper--be it a friend, family member, or yourself? Check gifts off your holiday shopping list and give the gift of exploring New York's nature this holiday season with a subscription to The Conservationist Magazine. Read interesting articles, accompanied by spectacular nature photography and artwork. A sample of topics include fishing, hiking, recreation, travel, hunting, and more. Interested? Find out about gift subscriptions.

Feathered friend feeding -- During the winter season, many decide to put up a bird feeder to help the birds and enjoy the related sights and sounds. But when you are putting that feeder up, make a note to remove it after winter. Bears exit their dens in March when their natural food is scarce. They love bird seed and even small amounts on the ground will attract them. Keep feeding areas clean and consider a bird bath. Water is especially important in the winter when it may become frozen in nearby ponds and lakes. Make sure you have fresh, thawed water for your feathered friends.

Group hiking in the winter on a snow filled trail.
Hike smart. Be sure to let someone know your plan and expected return time.

Winter hiking tips-- Make sure you plan, dress accordingly, pack appropriate gear, know what to do if you get lost, and how to stay safe. Read more about winter hiking.

Tank talk -- Water tanks should be flushed once a year. Mineral sediment can significantly reduce the amount of hot water available. Also, consider insulating an older tank (check your tank's and manufacturer's warnings and instructions). And replace the anode rod every 5 to 10 years to extend the life of your water tank.

Savings are in store -- When checking items off your grocery list, help save the environment and money. Do not buy over-packaged items and pick products in reusable and/or recyclable containers. Buy concentrated cleaners and detergents. Return empty bottles and cans for deposit. Also, do not forget to bring your own bag when you go shopping. November 15, 2020, is America Recycles Day (ARD). Take a pledge (link leaves DEC's website) to help reduce, reuse, and recycle in honor of this day and help our environment.

Holiday hellos -- Instead of putting pen to paper for traditional holiday cards--try e-cards. You will help save money during the holiday season by saving on stamps. Prefer traditional paper cards? Look for SFI or FSC logos when making a purchase to make sure the paper for your cards has been sourced responsibly.

Winterize your car with propylene glycol anti-freeze -- Propylene glycol anti-freeze is less toxic for pets, children, and wildlife. Anti-freezes based on ethylene glycol are highly poisonous, even in tiny amounts, and spills attract animals because they smell and taste sweet. Take safety precautions for cleaning up ethylene glycol spills.

In the kitchen -- From Thanksgiving meals to holiday baking, plenty of time is spent in the kitchen this season. Try cooking for the week--cook larger quantities of dinner and baked goods at one time to reduce oven use later in the week. Also, use the proper temperature settings. For the refrigerator this is between 38- and 42-degrees F. The freezer should be between 0-and 5-degrees F. Instead of getting a second refrigerator, use coolers for "overflow" food and beverages.

Find our sustainable Thanksgiving tip inspiring? Then make sure to visit this page in December as we provide information on how to live green this holiday season -- from gift giving to decorations and more. Also, share your photos and ideas about being thankful for the environment with us using #LiveGreenNY