Administrative History

Created on July 1, 1970, the New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is the regulatory agency for environmental issues in the State with the mission 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 and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being. DEC is the successor to the Conservation Department, originally established in 1911 as the Conservation Commission, a culmination of smaller Commissions such as the Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission, and later renamed the Conservation Department in 1926. DEC’s primary services include providing permits, licenses, and registrations to businesses, government agencies and individuals for activities that impact the environment; investigating environmental issues; and educating people on how to better protect the environment.

With a central office located in Albany, the DEC is headed by a commissioner, who is assisted by executive managers. The Department has 24 divisions and offices and is further organized into bureaus to fulfill the functions and regulations established by Title 6 of New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (6NYCRR). Some programs are also governed by federal law.

A native of Schoharie County, Sharon J. Mauhs served as a district attorney of Schoharie County (1926-1933) and assistant state attorney general (1933-1937). After leaving the Republican party, he became Democratic chairman of Schoharie County in 1945 and was elected to the assembly for two terms (1948-1952). Mauhs was appointed commissioner of the New York State Conservation Department by Governor Averell Harriman, after a departmental controversy led former commissioner Louis A. Wehle to resign. Mauhs served as commissioner from 1956-1958. While commissioner, he served as chairman of the Water Power and Control Commission and the Whiteface Mountain Authority, and served on the Water Pollution Control Board and the Delaware River Basin Advisory Committee.

J. Winthrop Aldrich served as Special Assistant to the Commissioner during the terms of several DEC commissioners. Langdon Marsh served as Executive Deputy Commissioner of the DEC.