Preliminary Guide to Environmental Sources
Current Functions. The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for protecting and enhancing the State's natural resources. It carries out this responsibility by planning for and regulating disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, remediating hazardous-waste disposal sites, coordinating responses to hazardous-substance spill emergencies, and encouraging recycling of solid wastes; reducing air contamination and regulating emissions; controlling and managing fish and wildlife populations for recreational and ecological benefits; managing the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves and other forest lands, and assisting private forest landowners in forest management and fire prevention and control; managing marine and coastal resources; overseeing and protecting wetlands, floodplains, and rivers; promoting wise use of water resources; monitoring environmental conditions, testing for contaminants, and providing for the abatement of pollution; regulating mining, reclamation of mined lands, extraction of oil and gas, and storage of natural gas; regulating use of pesticides; and informing the public on environmental conservation principles and encouraging public participation in environmental affairs.
Organizational History. Creation of the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970 (Chapter 140) was preceded by over a century of State conservation activity carried out by a number of agencies. The first, a three-member Fisheries Commission, was established in 1868 (Chapter 285) to restore and protect the propagation of fish in the State's rivers, lakes, and streams. A three-member Forest Commission was established in 1885 (Chapter 283) to maintain and protect land in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains to be designated as a State forest preserve and to protect public interests in the State relating to forests, tree planting, and forest fires. This board was abolished by a law of 1893 (Chapter 332) establishing a new five-member Forest Commission with the same duties.
In 1895 (Chapter 395), the Fisheries Commission and Forest Commission were combined into a Fisheries, Game, and Forest Commission headed by five gubernatorial appointees. This commission was renamed the Forest, Fish and Game Commission in 1900 (Chapter 20) and after 1903 was headed by one commissioner. In 1906 (Chapter 199) the commission was authorized to employ a counsel to represent them in legal actions brought under provisions of the forest, fish, and game law. Other laws further regulated State lands, including one in 1897 (Chapter 220) creating the Forest Preserve Board to acquire additional land for the State.
A Water Storage Commission consisting of five gubernatorial appointees, the superintendent of public works, the forest, fish and game commissioner, the state engineer and surveyor, and the attorney general was established in 1902 (Chapter 406) to investigate and report on the State's water supply. This was followed in 1905 (Chapter 723) by a five-member Water Supply Commission established to administer a systematic plan for maintaining water supplies for the State's municipalities. This commission absorbed the River Improvement Commission established the previous year (Laws of 1904, Chapter 734). The functions and powers of the Water Supply Commission, Forest Preserve Board, and Forest, Fish, and Game Commission were combined in 1911 (Chapter 657) to form the Conservation Commission. The commission was headed by three commissioners in charge of divisions of lands and forests, fish and game, and inland waters.
In 1921 (Chapter 579), a Water Power Commission, consisting of the three conservation commissioners, the State engineer and surveyor, the attorney general, the temporary president of the senate, and the speaker of the assembly, was established to issue licenses for the development of State power resources. A Water Control Commission was established in 1922 (Chapter 413) to supervise water flow and supply and to administer the Black River and Hudson River regulating districts.
After the 1925-26 constitutional reorganization of State government, enabling legislation in 1926 (Chapter 619) established the Conservation Department to assume the functions and duties of the Conservation Commission, Water Control Commission, and Water Power Commission, all of which were abolished. The new department included a Division of Parks, which supervised all State parks, reservations, historic sites, and recreational areas (except the forest preserve).
When the Department of Environmental Conservation was established in 1970, it assumed all functions of the Conservation Department except administration of State parks, which was transferred to the new Office of Parks and Recreation in the Executive Department. In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation assumed primary responsibility for State policy relating to air and water pollution, waste management, and pesticide use, areas formerly supervised by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Markets. The Air Pollution Control Board, Water Resources Board, Pesticide Control Board, and Natural Beauty Commission, all formerly within other State agencies, were abolished and their functions assumed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation is also an ex officio member and chair of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, established in 1970 as a public benefit corporation to assist State agencies and local governments in environmental management projects and to provide financing for pollution control facilities. The commissioner is also an ex officio member of numerous other commissions, authorities, boards, and committees.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
|General Agency-level Records|
|15496||Department policies and procedures manual, 1973-1984.
.2 cu. ft.
|13063||Commissioners' and deputy commissioners' correspondence,
subject files, and orders, 1948-1995.
712.5 cu. ft.
|Office of Counsel|
|10407||Water pollution control case files, 1929-1973, bulk
4 cu. ft.
|Legislative and Federal Liaison Office|
|16867||Departmental legislative proposals, 1963-1980.
3 cu. ft.
|Bureau of Environmental Quality Review|
|15804||State environmental quality review (SEQRA) repository
positive declaration files, 1978-1994.
285.5 cu. ft.
|18927||State environmental quality review (SEQRA) repository
positive declaration files, 1982-1989.
241 cu. ft.
|Bureau of Real Property|
|B1407||Field books for surveys by James Frost of New York
State lands, 1811-1838.
3 microfilm reels
|B1405||Verplanck Colvin maps of the Adirondack wilderness,
337 color fiches
|B1406||Field books by Verplanck Colvin for the Adirondack
Survey, ca. 1872-1900.
43 microfilm reels
|Central Planning Office|
|20138||State environmental plan files, 1970-1975.
4 cu. ft. (including 10 reels of audiotape)
|Office of Program Development, Planning and Research|
|10800||Corps of Engineers flood control project feasibility
reports, 1936-1960, bulk 1940-1950.
2 cu. ft.
|10770||Hurricane Agnes damage files, 1972-1973.
2 cu. ft.
|Division of Legal Affairs|
|16860||Closed pollution/permit application hearing files,
1954-1972, bulk 1960-1969.
26 cu. ft.
|Division of Fish and Wildlife
- Director's Office
|16481||Division director's subject and correspondence files,
107 cu. ft.
|- Marketing Unit|
|16181||First-of-state issuance of 1985 New York migratory
bird stamps, 1985.
.2 cu. ft. (1 sheet of 30 stamps)
|- Other Records|
|A0743||Freshwater wetlands inventory maps, 1973-1975.
40 cu. ft. (971 maps)
|16665||Urban wildlife habitat inventory maps, 1979.
.6 cu. ft. (131 maps)
|Division of Water|
|A1117||Statewide sewage disposal, water pollution, and discharge
permit files, ca. 1900-1975.
177 cu. ft.
|A1121||State and federal institution wastewater disposal files,
5 cu. ft.
|A1123||State park and campsite wastewater disposal files,
2 cu. ft.
|A1122||Pure waters files, ca. 1951-1975.
2 cu. ft.
|A1118||Interstate basin commission administration files, ca.
1948-1975, bulk 1957-1975.
18 cu. ft.
|A1120||Drainage basin subject files, ca. 1904-1977, bulk 1950-1975.
34 cu. ft.
|Division of Air Resources
- Bureau of Abatement Planning
|15491||State implementation plan planning files, 1972-1996.
20 cu. ft.
|14297||Photographic prints and negatives, ca. 1904-1949.
46.8 cu. ft. (ca. 5,100 glass plate and film negatives and ca. 2,450 photographic prints)
|A3268||Civilian Conservation Corps camp and personnel files,
2.5 cu. ft. (including ca. 700 cards) (8 microfilm reels) R
|B1004||Index to department orders, 1911-1930.
4.5 cu. ft.
|B1590||Card index to administrative matters, and regulatory
and special permit cases, 1930-1937.
1 cu. ft. (ca. 6,000 cards)
|Division of Pure Waters|
|A1119||Interstate water quality standards files, ca. 1965-1968.
1 cu. ft.
|Bureau of Forest Pest Control|
|19753||State and federal blister rust annual reports, 1916-1957.
3 cu. ft. (54 volumes)
|A0280||Assessment rolls of towns in which the State owns land,
51 cu. ft.
|20380||Tree survey book, 1926-1936.
1 cu. ft. (2 volumes)
|LONG ISLAND STATE PARK COMMISSION|
|A3320||Maps, plans, and sketches for improvement and development
of parks and parkways on Long Island, ca. 1928-1954, bulk 1930-1950.
6 cu. ft. (ca. 40 maps)
|ADIRONDACK MOUNTAIN AUTHORITY|
|11349||Administrative subject files, 1937-1968, bulk 1959-1968.
8 cu. ft.
|11263||Legal and administrative files, 1957-1968.
2 cu. ft.
|WATER SUPPLY COMMISSION|
|B0242||Reports to or by the commission regarding the Genesee
River Improvement, 1904-1911.
.3 cu. ft.
|B0917||Sacandaga Reservoir proposed flow line maps, ca. 1908-1912,
3 cu. ft. (49 maps)
|WATER POWER COMMISSION|
|A4219||American Super-Power Corporation license application
maps and drawings, 1922-
.5 cu. ft. (1 volume)
|HUDSON RIVER REGULATING DISTRICT|
|A1168||Sacandaga reservoir storage reports and bond offering
.2 cu. ft.
|NATURAL BEAUTY COMMISSION|
|20139||Minutes and Subject Files, 1966-70 (bulk 1967-1970)
2 cu. ft.