New York’s history is embedded in its bounty of natural resources. Included among its waterways and terrain are the mighty Hudson River, the Erie Canal, the New York Harbor, the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, and Long Island coastline. All standalone treasures that when combined, bring great quality of life and economic development opportunities for the citizens of the great state of New York.
Recognizing the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations, New Yorkers were among the first to make environmental conservation a priority. New York led the nation in passing laws to support clean water and clean air, forever wild lands, protection of the environment, and the creation of a state park system as well as a formal office of environmental conservation.
Long before the modern day Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation were formed, state leaders were concerned with managing and protecting nature and the environment. The first state appointed game law officers were appointed in 1880, preceding the formation of the Division of State Police by 27 years.* The first forest ranger service began in 1885, the same year the State Legislature established the Forest Preserve of New York state to designate land in the Adirondacks and Catskills to be protected as “forever wild.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was formed on April 22, 1970-the first Earth Day-legislation. This marked the creation of one of the first government agencies specifically formed for the purpose of overseeing all environmental concerns through one organization.
Long recognized as having one of the nation’s most diverse and valuable park systems in the country, New York formed the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to operate and steward the state parks system, as well as advance a statewide parks, historic preservation, and open space mission. New York State has 180 state parks and thousands of miles of maintained trails for outdoor recreation.
New York’s commitment to the environment is embedded in the state constitution and as a matter of environmental conservation law, New York has recognized that strong environmental policy and sound on-the-ground conservation efforts lead to a strong economy and a tremendous quality of life for its residents. Audubon New York is proud to partner with agencies throughout the state government to achieve conservation at scale throughout the state.