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Backcountry stewards, assistant forest rangers will patrol outdoors

June 7, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

With the busy summer hiking season approaching, the state Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that it will have backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers patrolling the Adirondack waters and forests.

The backcountry stewards will be interns from the Student Conservation Association while the assistant forest rangers are employees of the DEC.

This is the second year for the SCA's backcountry steward program, although the SCA and DEC have a long-running relationship.

The assistant forest ranger program has been around since the 1970s but had a one-year hiatus two years ago when DEC's budget was severely cut.

There will be about 25 backcountry stewards and 19 assistant forest rangers statewide. Of those, 12 stewards and 12 assistant forest rangers will be based in the Adirondacks, according to DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino.

The seasonal workers will also work in the Catskill Park, the shores of Lake Ontario and numerous state forests.

"The warm weather brings more visitors to the state's incredible natural resources from the mountains of the Adirondacks to the shores of Lake Ontario," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. "By bolstering our seasonal workforce with staff who are knowledgeable about the outdoors, DEC can enhance the experience of outdoor enthusiasts."

These individuals will hike and paddle through New York's backcountry, protecting resources, monitoring use and providing visitor services.

Working with DEC foresters and forest rangers, the backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers will also educate the public about the appropriate use of state lands, including "Leave No Trace" principles for camping and hiking, and DEC rules and regulations.

In addition, they will provide a direct communication link with local forest rangers and DEC emergency dispatchers if greater assistance is needed, and will assist in search-and-rescue missions and wildfire suppression.

Backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers began in the field Memorial Day weekend. Most will serve through Labor Day, though some will patrol the more popular areas through Columbus Day.



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