Department of Environmental Conservation

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Public Participation

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.

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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.

Public Meetings and Hearings

The DEC holds many public meetings and hearings throughout the year that allow for public input on various environmental topics. Below is a list of DEC meeting formats that explain the differences for each and how you may participate.

  • Public Meetings - Public meetings are typically scheduled when DEC programs have information to describe a plan of action in a location such as a wildlife management plan, proposed updates to unit management plans, brownfields or other site remediation projects, or other Department initiative. These meetings can serve to update the public on the current status of a local project or program and to get public input on proposals so that the Department can choose an appropriate remedy or action that meets local needs. A presentation will often be followed by a question-and-answer session. These meetings are held virtually or in person.
  • Availability Sessions - Availability sessions are held when DEC programs plan to discuss several topic areas of interest related to a project at one time. These sessions are often held in partnership with other NYS agencies or local governments. Multiple stations are set up in an auditorium or large meeting room with DEC program staff available at each station representing specific areas of interest. The advantage of this type of public session is that it allows for a one-on-one interaction, with staff discussing a particular topic relating to the project, such as water or air quality, with individual members of the public. These sessions are held in person.
  • Legislative (Public Comment) and Rule Making Hearings - Legislative (public comment) and rulemaking hearings are designed to take unsworn oral statements from the public regarding projects or proposals before the DEC. These include, for example, rulemakings proposing amendments to the DEC's regulations, permit applications under DEC review, and various actions under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), such as scoping sessions and public comment on draft environmental impact statements. Legislative hearings may also be scheduled to address policy issues relating to energy, environmental justice, and climate change. These hearings, which are held virtually or in person, are often facilitated by an administrative law judge.
  • Adjudicatory Hearings - Adjudicatory hearings are formal, trial-like proceedings that are presided over by an administrative law judge. The two main types are administrative enforcement hearings and permit hearings. Participants in adjudicatory hearings include Department staff and witnesses, respondents (in enforcement hearings) or permit applicants, and their attorneys, consultants, and witnesses. The hearings may be held virtually or in person.

For Legislative (Public Comment), Rule Making Hearings, and Adjudicatory (Permit) Hearings, notices of the hearings are published in the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB), DEC public calendar and in local newspapers. Sometimes the notice will also be published in a foreign language. The notice contains relevant information on the project or subject, directions on the date, time and how to participate in the hearing, as well as deadline dates for written comments and contact information for submitting written comments.

For a list of public meetings and hearings across New York State, please see our meetings and hearings calendar.

How to Participate in a Virtual Public Meeting

Due to COVID-19, DEC has been hosting virtual meetings on Cisco Webex, a virtual meeting platform, which is similar to Zoom. Some meetings may require you to register beforehand, after which you will receive the log in information by email. If no registration is required, the information on how to join the meeting should be provided within the meeting announcement.

For detailed instructions, please view the 'How to Join a Webex' instructions (PDF).

Foreign Language and Sign Language Interpretation

Foreign language and sign language interpretation can be provided at no charge with 14 days advance notice to the meeting host or via email. If you need help in a foreign language to register, please see our language assistance web page.

Get Involved in DEC's Summer Outreach Initiatives

audience listening to a speaker at a podium

Want more ways to get involved? DEC offers a wide array of different programs for the public to participate in - check out the list of current initiatives below. This list is updated regularly.

  • Attend the Virtual Public Hearing about the Forest Tax Law regulations on September 13, 2022 at 1 PM & 6 PM. The Forest Tax Law program provides private landowners a significant real property tax reduction on their enrolled forest lands if they agree to follow a long-term timber management plan written and administered by a professionally trained forester. The proposed rulemaking aims to improve the program by lessening the administrative burdens placed on participants and Department staff while strengthening the sustainable forest management standards. For more information, please visit the Proposed Part 199 webpage.

  • Saturday, September 24 is a free fishing day! DEC designates several dates throughout the year as free fishing days, which allows anyone to recreationally fish without a fishing license in New York State! September 24 marks one of these designated dates as it aligns with the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day held on the fourth Saturday of each September. This is the perfect time for the beginner or novice angler to try out fishing or for the more experienced angler to take a friend or the whole family along to fish. Learn more on our Free Fishing Days webpage.

  • Interested in Citizen Science? Consider becoming a WAVE volunteer and collect biological data for assessment of water quality on wadeable streams in NYS. Contact wave@dec.ny.gov to learn about teams in your area or visit our webpage.

  • DEC is seeking public assistance to report moose sightings via an online form (leaves DEC website) as part of ongoing efforts to monitor moose distribution across New York State. While the Adirondacks are home to most New York moose, some live in the eastern part of the state along the Vermont and Massachusetts borders. Moose can also occasionally be found in southeastern New York and the Catskills, but these are usually individuals that have dispersed from other areas.

  • DEC and New York State Parks announced the launch of the 2022 Outdoor Photo Contest to highlight the best of New York's natural beauty and special destinations among the state's campgrounds and parks. The online contest runs through mid-October, with the winning images to be featured in statewide digital and print campaigns. A grand prize winner will be selected along with six individual category winners. Learn more about the photo contest categories and submissions by visiting the NY Photo Challenge website (leaves DEC website).

  • The 2022 I Bird NY Challenges are live! Two levels of challenges provide the opportunity to identify birds and learn about birdlife and offer a chance to win birding equipment. New this year, finding birds on a NYS Birding trail site increases your chances of winning prizes. For more information, visit the I Bird NY webpage.

  • Before heading out on the water, remember to Clean, Drain, and Dry your watercraft to protect our waterbodies from invasive species! Use boat wash stations, if available, and inspect your gear to keep lakes, rivers, and ponds clean. For more info, visit our Clean Drain Dry webpage.

  • Are you looking for foam free container and packaging alternatives? Are you a covered foodservice provider, facility, store, or manufacturer affected by NY State's Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban? Details about foam-free container and packaging alternatives, including information about specific material types and guidance on common packaging terminology, are available in DEC's updated EPS Alternatives Reference Guide. To view the guide in English or Spanish and find more information about NY's foam ban visit DEC's Go Foam Free webpage. Additionally, the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management (CSMM) has created a resource on EPS alternatives for food service providers and stores. To view CSMM's guide visit the Recycle Right website (leaves DEC website) and click on "resources". #FoamFreeNY

  • When planning your garden, please consider the following these green tips to help protect our environment!

  • DEC is offering funding for private landowners to grow the forests of the future. Applications for Round 2 are being accepted until October 7, 2022, or while funds last. Check out the Regenerate New York webpage for more information.

Contact Information

Looking for information on who to contact at DEC? Check out DEC's Contact Us page to find points of contact for our various programs, such as sporting license sales, camping reservations, etc.

Please note that due to COVID-19, there may be reduced in-office staffing and we may not get to your call right away. We appreciate your understanding.


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