Now that the weather is getting warmer, more people are getting out and hitting the trails. While the number of hikers is growing, the number of forest rangers has remained stagnant.
“NYS is doing a great job promoting the state’s natural resources, and because of that, more and more people are getting out an enjoying the outdoors,” said David Pachan, Director of NY Police Benevelolent Association representing Forest Rangers. “But with that, the more people out there recreating, it puts a higher demand on the New York State forest rangers. More people are getting hurt.”
Just last week, rangers had to help rescue an injured hiker in Windham.
“He was 3 miles into his hike when he slipped and broke his leg in 3 different spots,” explained Pachan.
13 Forrest rangers out of only 106 statewide were called in to respond— meaning that over 10 percent of the state forest ranger force was on one rescue.
Just last year alone, forest rangers conducted over 300 search and rescue missions statewide.
“We are stretched thin, but we do what we have to.”
While the state budget did not specifically add more funding for forest ranger positions, It did, however, include a new academy.
“We have 106 field forest rangers right now,” explained Pachan. “With retirements and promotions, that number goes down. And that’s why this academy is so important to bring those numbers back up.”
The Rangers currently cover 5.8 million acres of public land statewide.