Thursday, November 8, 2018

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos Stepping Down

Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Basil Seggos is stepping down. A replacement has not been announced, but the next DEC Commissioner with be the third named by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was just elected to a third term.

During his tenure as DEC Commissioner Seggos completed the state’s purchase of the 69,000-acre Finch, Pruyn & Company lands. His tenure also coincided with several important Adirondack Park Agency (APA) classification decisions, including the High Peaks Wilderness and Boreas Ponds and Essex Chain Tracts.  DEC writes Adirondack Forest Preserve Unit Management Plans. The APA is tasked with ensuring those plans meet the requirement of the New York State Land Master Plan.

“Basil Seggos’s accomplishments will be overshadowed by a legacy in the Adirondack Park of weakening state environmental protection laws,” a statement sent to the press by Protect the Adirondack’s Peter Bauer said. “Seggos was instrumental in the weakening of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan to allow motor vehicles in Primitive Areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, which are supposed to be managed like Wilderness lands. Seggos also subverted the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and the Snowmobile Trails Management Guidance.”

Protect the Adirondacks criticized DEC’s relationship with APA during his tenure. “Seggos also worked to constrain the independence of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) by seeing that major decisions at the APA were made in Albany by the DEC and Governor’s Office,” the organiztion’s statement said. “Seggos effectively managed the APA as a division within the DEC and stripped the agency of its independent checks-and-balances role over the DEC for management of the public Forest Preserve.”

Protect’s statement to the press also included a number of other criticisms:

“Seggos was a strong proponent of enhanced motorized access to the public Forest Preserve who pushed for expansion of road-like Class II community connector snowmobile trails and access by motor vehicles.

“Seggos also failed to adequately invest in high-use areas like the High Peaks Wilderness, allowing the vast mileage of trails to be damaged, degraded and eroded. Seggos directed poor long-term investments of millions of dollars in projects like the new Frontier Town Campground, rather than investing in popular areas like the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

“Seggos also worked to strip away public recreation rights for the Long Pond Conservation Easement lands.”

Basil Seggos become the 15th Commissioner of the DEC in June of 2016.  That September he refused to renew the guide’s license of Patrick Cunningham, the owner of Hudson River Rafting Company in North Creek for putting his customers at risk, fallout from a death on the Hudson River in 2012.

Before being appointed to head DEC, Basil Seggos previously served as both Deputy Secretary for the Environment and Assistant Secretary for the Environment for Governor Andrew Cuomo. He advised the Governor on environmental policy and overseeing the operations of the state’s environmental agencies, including DEC, the Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation, the Environmental Facilities Corporation, and the Adirondack Park Agency. In 2015 he was involved in a controversy over Lake George fishing access.

Prior to working in the Governor’s office, Seggos served as Vice President of Business Development at the private equity company Hugo Neu Corporation, Chief Investigator and Attorney at Riverkeeper, Associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and as a legal clerk at the White House.  He graduated from Trinity College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts and from Pace Law School in 2001.

Those interested in applying for Seggos’s old job, can do so here.

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11 Responses

  1. Smitty says:

    Seems kind of unfair to take up most of the article with just one perspective disparaging the man. Another perspective could be that he oversaw large additions to the forest preserve and helped to foster compromise between wilderness and access. Good governance sometimes means balancing competing interests.

  2. A Charles Parker says:

    I find the tone of the Adirondack Almanac Article to follow a similar theme I find from some of their followers, they don’t let the truth get in the way of what they were trying to say. A biased statement on my part bud sadly all too often true. I once presented the above comment to one of the greener Adirondack advocate leaders and his reply was sometime we do tend to embellish a little.
    From the time I met Basil Seggos in his rolls as Deputy Secretary for the Environment and Assistant Secretary for the Environment I found him to be fair and outreaching to all that are concerned with sound environmental policy. While we may have not agreed 100% on all issues I never felt that I was not at least listened to. I found his approach and views to be much more wise use and science based, than the points of views taken by the critics mentioned in the Adirondack Almanac article.
    Those that state that “Seggos was instrumental in the weakening of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan………”, clearly have read that plan from a different perspective from which I understand it. Basil, thank you for your service. You have been a good DEC Commissioner. Chuck Parker President, New York State Conservation Council

    • John Warren says:


      Feel free to quote an inaccuracy and I’ll gladly fix it. Your quote comes from Peter Bauer, not the Almanack’s editorial staff.

      John Warren

      • Chuck Parker says:

        John, thank you for the reply. Yes I know the quote in the article came from Peter. The comment about embellishment did not come from the Adirondack Staff either. I just don’t think if was a fairly presented article. I take exception when opinion is states as fact. That is just my opinion.

        Wish you well, Chuck Parker

        • adkDreamer says:

          @Chuck Parker. More likely than not and based upon the archive of articles that appear in this forum, the ‘facts’ are often elusive things and their inclusion or omission is nothing new here. This forum is nothing more than a social media site for all things Adirondack, the articles and comments of which including: opinions, misstatements, hyperbole, slant articles, some facts, some fiction et. al. is to be expected. Most authors and commenters abhor correction, especially when the correction provided is in fact the truth. Remember: Most don’t care what you think and they more than likely don’t care about an alleged exception either.

          Read the articles here for enjoyment as most are designed for that purpose. Just saying … With a few exceptions most articles leave out some parts of the narrative, some omit major parts of the narrative or get them altogether wrong. Oh well, so what?

          If you are searching for the truth, the complete truth of a particular narrative you probably won’t find it here – but you more than likely will find some interesting points on a topic, right or wrong, that compels the mind.

          • Boreas says:

            Well said! I doubt AA was ever intended to replace the NY Times. I view an “almanac” as a simply a repository of information, and the reader needs to be wary of its content. I do not blame the editors for any misinformation or slanted articles. If every article was triple fact-checked and balanced, there would be few articles, they would be weeks behind, and those articles would provide pretty dry reading.

          • Chuck Parker says:

            I (in my opinion) find articles in the Adirondack all too often to be lacking in credibility and truth. As others have stated, these articles are for “enjoyment” and the discussion of “interesting points”. More than a repository of information it is a reflection of non fact based opinion. That is ok if what you want is entertainment of some sort. What is written, that I object to, is of no fault of the Adirondack Almanac Staff. If the readers, writers, and those that make comments held themselves to a higher standard of being closer to the truth and less embellishment, the AA would be a more credible read. There would probably be fewer readers, so let’s just settle with what we have.

            • Boreas says:


              I agree with parts of your statement, but could you please cite specific examples of ARTICLES that you feel lack “credibility and truth” other than humor articles? There is no such standard at this time for comments, since they are typically opinions as you mention. I feel the articles themselves are typically truthful and informative, many containing information that cannot be found elsewhere. Each author may slant an article to illustrate their opinions, but if a falsehood is presented or something simply isn’t credible, it is usually called out in the Comments section where the author has the opportunity to respond to criticism.

              I read AA because I can find more information here that concentrates on the Park than any other publication I can think of. No glossy pictures of guideboats and Great Camps surrounded by dozens of advertisements – just solid writing and pertinent content. I will be keeping my donations coming for the foreseeable future.

  3. Not Good Governance says:

    He had little to do with good governance when it was needed to make a call to the governor’s office for him to process paperwork that was sitting on his desk for over eight months! Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out Commissioner!

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