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.