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A few questions for state DEC officials

May 25, 2013
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer (mlynch@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

For the first time since 2007, forest rangers and environmental conservation officer trainees are attending a 24-week residential program at the state Department of Environmental Conservation Basic Academy in Pulaski.

I had been interested in doing an article that included information about this academy along with details about what positions are currently available and being filled in the Adirondacks. With that in mind, I made requests for interviews with Region 5 Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff and Region 5 Environmental Conservation Captain Lawrence DiDonato for this article. However, I was told by the DEC press office in Albany that those requests for interviews were declined. The press office would not provide reasons for declining the interviews.

However, the Albany press office did take written questions and provided written answers. Apparently, information regarding the academy and hiring of forest rangers and ECOs is highly sensitive.

Here is some of the information that DEC did provide:

- There are 18 forest ranger trainees and 32 ECOs attending the academy.

- Once, or if, the trainees graduate from the program, they will fill vacant positions statewide. There are 134 forest ranger positions in the state, including 106 forest rangers and 28 supervisory positions. There are 264 ECOs statewide.

- Currently, there are 35 ECO and 21 forest ranger jobs available statewide.

- In Region 5, there are five ECO and two investigator positions open, in addition to nine forest ranger positions.

- Forest rangers start at an annual salary of $49,618 while ECOs start at an annual salary of $52,217.

Here are some of the questions that were answered by the DEC:

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How many of those vacant forest rangers positions will be filled in Region 5?

In the first round of transfers, seven positions in Region 5 were offered for transfer to current forest rangers. Until the transfer process is over (there will be more rounds) and the academy graduates, it's not known how many of nine will be filled. Given seven acceptors to transfer in Round 1 at least seven will be filled.

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What positions will be filled? Which ones won't be filled?

This will not be confirmed until the current round of promotions and transfers is completed.

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What is the training process for forest rangers? How have those responsibilities changed in recent years?

Forest rangers this year will attend a 24-week in-residence academy. This is consistent with previous academies being 26 weeks.

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What are the main responsibilities for forest rangers in this region, and how do they differ from those in other regions of the state?

Forest rangers' primary responsibility is the protection of DEC managed state lands and those that use them. Forest rangers are also charged with wildland fire prevention and suppression, as well as response to search and rescue missions on both public and private lands. Rangers in Region 5 also assist with emergency management at the state and local level as requested. These are the main priorities of forest rangers throughout the state, however, because of the high recreational use in the Adirondack Park, incidents of search and rescue for lost or injured people frequently become the primary work of Region 5 Forest Rangers when they occur (DEC's Region 5 are the highest in the state).

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How many of the ECOs

positions will be filled?

This will not be confirmed until the current round of promotions and transfers is completed.

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What positions will be filled? Which ones won't be filled?

This will not be confirmed until the current round of promotions and transfers is completed.

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What is the training process for ECOs? Are they in the same academy as forest rangers?

There is a combined 24-week residential basic school for both units at DEC's training facility in Pulaski. Most of the training will be together, but the units will separate so that the ECO trainees can receive more intensive training in fish and wildlife and environmental enforcement and the ranger trainees can receive more intensive training in search and rescue, fire prevention and suppression, and incident management.

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What are the main responsibilities for ECOs in this region, and how do they differ from those in other regions of the state?

Main responsibilities are the same statewide. What differs is the amount of time spent on them. All ECOs are responsible for enforcing hunting regulations, freshwater fishing regulations, saltwater fishing regulations, endangered species regulations, stream regulations, solid waste laws, water quality laws and air quality laws. Region 5 ECOs have no major population centers to deal with, but have more interior patrols than other ECOs. All ECOs deal with people recreating in the outdoors, but Region 5 has the open land and colder winters that dictate what the nature of the recreation will be, and what the problems will be: lost hunters, snowmobiles through the ice, etc.

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Have those responsibilities changed in recent years?

What has changed for all ECOs is increased emphasis on homeland security issues, invasive species (especially aquatic invasives) and air quality issues such as heavy duty diesel truck enforcement.

 
 

 

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