Forestry in the Empire State

Northern hardwoods/white pine in eastern New York's Rensselaer County

In the late 19th century, New York became a leader in the environmental movement and, in 1885, established the Forest Preserve by setting aside land in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains to be protected by the State’s Constitution as “forever wild.”  In 1895, the New York Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission was created, becoming the Conservation Department in 1911. On the nation's first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was created.

To this day, the DEC's mission remains to conserve, improve, and protect New York’s natural resources and environment, and to prevent, abate, and control water, land, and air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety, welfare, and economic and social well-being of NY's people. The DEC's Division of Lands and Forests is responsible for managing nearly 4 million acres of public land in the state. This includes the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, located in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.  These lands are managed for a variety of purposes, including recreation, biodiversity and, on lands outside the Adirondack and Catskill Preserves, timber. Additionally, assistance is provided to thousands of private landowners to help them maximize the benefits they get from their forests.

New York also has a vibrant Urban and Community Forestry Program, addressing issues as varied as the state’s people. The state's urban and communicaty forests are located in areas ranging from densely populated areas downstate to rural and forested landscapes upstate. The Urban and Communicty Forestry program’s goal is to empower communities to plan and manage their own green resources. Training, tools, consultation, and technical support are made available to community leaders and volunteers.