‘Love Our New York Lands’ photo contest

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A photo contest by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation celebrates state lands and the beauty they have to offer. Contributed photo

ALBANY ─ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar announced the launch of the 2024 “Love Our New York Lands” photo contest.

The online contest will feature five monthly themes through mid-October, with the winning images receiving prizes and featured in statewide digital and print campaigns to help increase awareness of important principles and guidelines that encourage safe, accessible, respectful and sustainable use of public lands. 

“Every day, New Yorkers are outside enjoying DEC public lands and want to share their experiences by capturing beautiful images,” DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said.“Building upon the success of DEC’s annual fall foliage photo contest, DEC’s multimedia will feature winning photos that help represent the many ways visitors can access, feel welcome, and ‘Love Our New York Lands’ to protect natural resources for future enjoyment and appreciation by all New Yorkers.”

Each month of the Love Our New York Lands contest will have a different theme. June’s theme is “Pride” to highlight the importance of sharing state lands with all New Yorkers, including the LGBTQIA+ community, and ensuring a safe and welcoming space. Seven winning pictures will be chosen that represent each color of the rainbow Pride flag: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo/violet. The Pride pictures will be used next year in a curated compilation similar to this year’s image created by DEC, pictured, among other potential uses.

Prizes will be awarded to the winning entries. Photos will be judged on the following criteria: originality; artistic composition; technical quality; and whether the photograph showcases people enjoying New York’s outdoor activities safely and responsibly. 

Pride Month submissions should be emailed to [email protected] by June 30 with the subject line “LONYL Photo Contest.” Full name, the DEC land where the image was taken (if applicable), and Instagram/social media handle should also be included. Themes for future months of the contest will be announced later this summer.

New York state has many wonderful opportunities to get outside and enjoy activities year-round, including birding and wildlife viewing; warm-weather adventures such as swimming, biking, and horseback riding; cold-weather pursuits such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling; and even more challenging adventures like geocaching or rock and ice climbing.

The Love Our New York Lands campaign, launched in 2020 by DEC and State Parks, encourages all users of state-owned lands to recognize that these lands are shared by all of us, our families, and our neighbors, and we all need to take care of them.

The campaign includes guidance on Leave No Trace principles so visitors can do their part to help ensure these special places are protected for future generations. Love Our New York Lands encourages visitors to be respectful of other visitors in these shared spaces. Visitors are asked to share trails, treat people with kindness, and leave things as they found them for others to enjoy. Visitors are encouraged to think of themselves as responsible for helping protect these irreplaceable destinations for future generations. 

More information is available on DEC’s website at dec.ny.gov.