New York

(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

CrowdHydrology, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (“USGS”), gathers “information on stream stage or water levels from anyone willing to send [] a text message of the water levels at their local stream to collect spatially distributed hydrologic data.” CrowdHydrology,, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019); see also How it Works, CrowdHydrology, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). This project is ongoing in New York. See LocationsNew York, CrowdHydrology, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The NYC Cricket Crawl, which is sponsored by USGS, uses citizen scientists to “listen for the calls of crickets and katydids and document their observations.” NYC Cricket Crawl,, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019); see also NYC Cricket Crawl, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 

State Project(s):


The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYDEC”) runs a voluntary water quality monitoring program that focuses on the state’s rivers and streams: Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (“WAVE”).  See Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators, N.Y. Dep’t of Envtl. Conservation, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).  Through WAVE, volunteers monitor macroinvertebrate populations, using them as indicator species for water quality.  See id.; see also generally Charles Gottlieb, et al., Bug Catching for the State, 32 Va. Envtl. L. J. 61 (2014).  


NYDEC was also tasked with establishing “a program … known as the ‘citizens statewide lake assessment program [“CSLAP”]’…. The purpose of this program is to establish a network of volunteers . . . [who] will sample the assigned lakes on a weekly basis between May and September.”  N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 17-0305(1); see also Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP), N.Y. Dep’t of Envtl. Conservation, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The NYDEC also sponsors a number of citizen science programs which allow citizens to help the Bureau of Wildlife observe and collect valuable data. See Citizen Science: Wildlife Observation Data Collection, N.Y. Dep’t of Envtl. Conservation, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). These projects are aimed at preserving populations of a variety of animals, including deer, grouse and woodcock, geese, bobcats, and wild turkey. See id.; see also Bernadette LaManna, Discover… Citizen Science (2011),

Collection of Information: 

State Research Permits:

A person is required to acquire a license to “collect or possess fish, wildlife, shellfish, crustacea, or aquatic insects, birds’ nests or eggs for propagation, banding, scientific or exhibition purposes.” N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 11-0515(1). Furthermore, “[n]o person shall sponsor, conduct or participate in any research project on State lands except under permit from the department. Examples of research include, but are not limited to, population studies, collection of scientific samples, placement of scientific instruments, seismic exploration and archaeological studies.”  N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 6, § 190.8(ad).

Trespassing Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No. “A person is guilty of trespass when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises.” N.Y. Penal Law § 140.05 (emphasis added).


Entry “upon unimproved and apparently unused land, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders” is licensed “unless notice against trespass is personally communicated . . . or . . . given by posting in a conspicuous manner.”  Id. § 140.00(5).

Drone Laws:

State Parks:

A permit is required to fly drones in state parks. See N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 9, § 372.7(j); id. § 409.1(j); see also New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Regulating Unmanned Aircraft Systems, OPR-PCD-018, at 2 (Jan. 6, 2015),

New York City Policy:

We were unable to find a specific city ordinance outlawing drone flying in New York City. However, the City’s official website currently indicates it is illegal to fly drones in New York City, and directs citizens witnessing drone flight to call 911. See NYC ResourcesDrones, New York City, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“A person is guilty of stalking in the fourth degree when he or she intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct:

1. is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or

2. causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or

3. is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person’s place of employment or business, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.”  N.Y. Penal Law § 120.45.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions could be construed to allow the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:


“In case any written complaint shall be filed with the commissioner and he shall have cause to believe . . . that any person is violating any code, rule or regulation [governing air pollution] . . .  the commissioner shall cause a prompt investigation thereof to be made.”  N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 19-0503.

Under CSLAP, NYDEC “shall prepare an annual report which will include a summary of the information collected on the monitored waters during the previous season.  This information shall be distributed to the program participants and other interested parties.”  N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 17-0305(6).

The NYDEC commissioner is directed by statute to “prepare a citizen participation handbook for the purpose of providing guidance to applicants in the design and implementation of meaningful citizen participation plans” related to Environmental Remediation Programs, such as Brownfield Site Redevelopment. N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 27-1417; see also New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Citizen Participation Handbook for Remedial Programs (2010). The handbook provides extensive guidance for citizens interested in compiling Remedial Investigation Reports or Work Plans. See, e.g., New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Citizen Participation Handbook for Remedial Programs § 3.3 (2010). 

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

“Statements in a pleading shall be sufficiently particular to give the court and parties notice of the transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, intended to be proved and the material elements of each cause of action or defense.”  N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3013.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

There is no equivalent general provision to FRE 901 in the New York laws, although there are specific rules for authenticating specific types of evidence. See N.Y. C.P.L.R. art. 45. Additionally, these methods of authentication are not exclusive and correspond with standards used in other states and the federal courts.  See People v. Patterson, 93 N.Y.2d 80, 104 (N.Y. 1999).  Photographs and other records can be authenticated by witnesses of the recorded events, operators or installers, or by expert testimony that the evidence truly and accurately represents what was before the camera.  See id.; see also N.Y. C.P.L.R. art. 45; People v. Byrnes, 33 N.Y.2d 343 (N.Y. 1974).

Expert Testimony:

Frye standard.  See People v. Wesley, 633 N.E.2d 451, 453-54 (N.Y. 1994).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.