Newswise — The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) - the most distinguished institution in the nation that focuses on the study of the environment-is proud to announce it is hosting the prestigious New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Ranger Training Academy at the College's Ranger School and Newcomb campus in the Adirondack Park.
"Forest Ranger Academy recruits will have an unparalleled practical training landscape in the Adirondacks, and we hope to host it for many years to come. This is also an exciting opportunity for our local communities in the region, whose economies will be positively impacted by the Academy's presence," said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. "Like ESF, the DEC has a mission for managing and protecting our state's natural resources, and we look forward to our continued partnership."
This is the first time the Forest Ranger Academy has been based in the Adirondacks, where ESF will host a landmark class of nearly 40 recruits for 11 weeks at the Ranger School in Wanakena and 16 weeks at the College's Newcomb campus. During the six-month training, the DEC will prepare recruits for careers protecting New York's natural resources in the Division of Forest Protection. DEC Forest Ranger staff and recruits will be fully engaged in academy training through early December.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC's partnership with SUNY ESF enables New York Forest Rangers to utilize thousands of acres of land in the Adirondacks to train and prepare Ranger recruits for graduation. Thanks in part to this partnership with SUNY ESF, dozens of new well-trained Rangers will be deployed statewide to bolster ongoing efforts to assist New Yorkers and protect our natural resources."
Forest Ranger duties focus on the public use of DEC-administered state lands and easements and span from patrolling state properties to conducting search and rescue operations and fighting wildland fires on undeveloped lands all over the state. In 2021, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that serve to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests. Rangers also interact with hundreds of state land visitors every day to provide educational information about the state's land and natural resources.
"Many Forest Rangers started their careers here at the Ranger School, and it feels right to start our training here," said DEC's Division of Forest Protection Director John Solan. "The Adirondacks is an appropriate place for the Forest Ranger Academy, in a setting similar what many of our Rangers will experience on the job, and with a focus on the skills they will need in the field. Being able to provide classroom instruction in a modern academic facility, with the ability to immediately walk to a remote, forested setting is an invaluable asset to our training program for new Forest Rangers."
The Academy kicked off this week at the College's Ranger School campus in St. Lawrence County. Originally known as the New York State Ranger School, ESF's Wanakena campus was established in 1912 and is home to the oldest continually operating forest technology school in the country. Many Ranger School students aspire to become Forest Rangers or Environmental Conservation Officers, according to Mariann Johnston, Ranger School Director. Since 1946, over 160 graduates of ESF's Ranger School have become DEC Forest Rangers, including Director Solan, class of 1991.
"Our degree programs offer a strong foundation in technical field skills such as navigating and map-making, and tree and plant identification and measurements, providing a great foundation for those hoping to pursue this career path," said Johnston.
In August, the Academy will transition to ESF's Newcomb Campus to complete their training.
"Basing the Forest Ranger Academy at ESF demonstrates the DEC's commitment to not only protecting the Adirondacks, but to building the next generation of professionals with this region as the foundation of their career preparation," said Paul Hai, Associate Director, Adirondack Ecological Center, Newcomb Campus.
About SUNY ESF
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the Associate of Applied Science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and conduct research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., at the Ranger School Campus in Wanakena, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.