Date: 2/24/99 8:15AM
Subject: Endangered species and Archaeological sites
Dear Professor Felleman:
I have received your email of February 19 concerning the treatment under the Freedom of
Information Law of records indicating the locations of endangered species and
In this regard, as you may be aware, the Freedom of Information Law provides as a
general matter that all agency records are available, unless they fall within an exception to
rights of access. The first ground for denial pertains to records that "are specifically
exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute."
With respect to the locations of the habitats of endangered flora or fauna, the NYS
Environmental Conservation Law, section 3-0301((2)(r) gives the Commissioner of the
Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to withhold records indicating
those locations "where the destruction of such habitat or the removal of such species
therefrom would impair their ability to survive provided, however, that the commissioner
may, in his descretion permit access to such inspection to persons engaged in legitimate
scientific and academic research."
With regard to records indicating the locations of archaeological sites, there is no state
statute dealing with the issue. However, section 427.8 of the regulations of the Office of
Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provides restrictions on access. Further, a
federal statute provides confidentiality under certain circumstances. See 16 USC section
470hh. Also potentially relevant is 16 USC section 470w-3 concerning the confidentiality
of the location of sensitive historic resources. I obtained the citations to those federal
statutes from the FOI office at the US Department of the Interior and can fax their
contents to you if you need them.
I hope that I have been of assistance.