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 May 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.

  • Saturday May 7, 2022 is I Love My Park Day! Held the first Saturday in May, this event attracts thousands of volunteers from across the state to participate in cleanup, improvement, and beautification events at New York State parks, historic sites, and public lands. Join us to celebrate New York's park system and prepare our public lands for spring by cleaning up park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trails and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects. Find events across New York State here (leaves DEC website).
  • Compost Awareness Week is May 1-7! Learn about funding for municipal food scraps recycling initiatives here.
  • When planning your garden this spring, please consider the following these green tips to help protect our environment!
  • It's spring turkey season! Learn more about dates, zones, hours, and more here.
  • 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.
  • DEC released a draft Access and Public Use Plan for Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area and are accepting public comments now through June 1. For more information, visit the Ashland Flats WMA webpage.
  • Provide comment on the Medium-Heavy Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan. Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and DEC held a stakeholder outreach meeting on April 11 to provide an overview of the Draft MHD ZEV Action Plan (leaves DEC website). The comment period for the Draft MHD ZEV Action Plan has been extended from April 25th to May 9, 2022. Comments can be submitted to the NESCAUM portal (leaves DEC website).
  • Participate in the New York State Climate Action Council Public Hearings across New York State! New York State's 22-member Climate Action Council, established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), will hold 10 public hearings (virtual and in-person) across the State to receive public input on the Draft Scoping Plan and advance work on a Final Scoping Plan to guide the implementation of the State's nation-leading climate goals under the CLCPA. The hearings will take place throughout April and May. The Council released the Draft Scoping Plan on December 30, 2021 and is accepting public comments on the draft through June 10, 2022. For more information, please visit the Climate Act webpage (leaves DEC website).
  • Participate in a public hearing on the Draft Disadvantaged Communities Criteria. These criteria help guide equitable implementation of the State's Climate Law. In-person and virtual hearings will be offered throughout May and June for the public to share input on the draft. Comments will be accepted until July 7, 2022. Find more information on the draft criteria and see the full list of hearings here (leaves DEC website.)
  • DEC celebrates Water Week May 9-14, 2022. Did you know DEC provides funding to help communities protect and restore NY's waters? More funding is available now - visit our Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program webpage.
  • Brush Burn Ban: From March 16 through May 14, New York's annual statewide ban prohibiting brush burning is in effect. Since 2009, DEC has enforced the ban to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires each spring. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York webpage.

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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