Question: Does the New York State Department of Conservation have a formal responsibility to assist CACs and CBs in the performance of their work?
Answer: Surprisingly, yes! All this goes back to the enabling legislation that allowed municipalities to establish Conservation Advisory Commissions (CACs) and Conservation Boards (CBs) pursuant to New York State General Municipal Law Article 12-F, Section 239-x and Section 239-y. Go to this link to see these sections: Section 239-x    Section 239-y

Section 239-x, para. 6 states (regarding CACs):
“To assist a council in carrying out its functions, powers and duties, it may request the department of environmental conservation to:

(a) prepare reports outlining objectives, priorities and proposed relationships of the council to the local legislative body;

(b) prepare description of work to be undertaken, advantageous techniques to be used and suggested roles of council members;

(c) provide research on conservation facts and procedures;

(d) provide, on a consulting basis, technical and research assistance as may be required to assist the council in carrying out its work and to enable the council to offer recommendations to the local legislative body;

(e) describe particular areas of natural resources within the city, town or village, as the case may be, which require particular attention by the council.”

Section 239-y, para. 4 states (regarding CBs):
“In addition to the foregoing a conservation board may:

a. Exercise any of the functions and responsibilities heretofore granted to conservation advisory councils;

  1. Request the assistance of the department of environmental conservation in the preparation of any report.

In seeking assistance, your CAC or CB should start with the DEC regional headquarters that your group is located in.
Either go to this link (Map of all DEC Offices – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation) to see a map showing each DEC region, their regional headquarters and their regional sub-office, or use the map below.   At the state level, you can contact John Petronella ( for further information.


About Simon Skolnik

Simon Skolnik is the President of NYSACC and Chair of the Town of Bedford Conservation Board. A trained civil engineer, Mr. Skolnik devoted his career to the management of public and private sector construction projects. He was first appointed to the Bedford Conservation Board in 1985 and became Chair in 1995. He joined the NYSACC Board of Directors in 1989, was elected Vice President in 1995, and elected President in 2019.

Besides their historic role in the protection of open space, Mr. Skolnik views Conservation Advisory Commissions and Boards as among the most vital and important institutions in combating climate change locally and mitigating its effects on the natural and built environments.

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