New York is adding new members to its Forest Ranger force with 38 graduates from basic school on Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced.
The new recruits will join the Department of Environmental Conservation's Division of Forest Protection, bringing its ranks to 159 people.
A graduation ceremony was held in Lake Placid after six months of training at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
"From rescuing lost or injured hikers to fighting wildfires here in New York and across the nation, our dedicated Forest Rangers regularly put themselves in harm's way to protect our communities," Hochul said. "I applaud this new class of Rangers for their hard work in completing an extremely difficult training regimen as they now join the ranks of hundreds of other officers who continue to protect New Yorkers and our treasured natural resources every day."
Added interest in wilderness areas has been a boon to tourism, but has also created a strain on services.
The new members of the Division of Forest Protection are being added as interest in New York's vast wilderness areas in the Adirondacks and Catskills has increased significantly in the last several years. With the added foot traffic in remote areas, its meant rangers have been busier and created a challenge for the rural communities adjacent to remote recreational areas.
The challenges of clmiate change, too, have added to their workload.
DEC Forest Rangers in 2021 conducted 426 search and rescue missions and helped extinguish wildfires as well as participated in prescribed burns.