Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Rangers Say Man Had Long-Term Camp On State Land

NYS Forest Rangers told the press Tuesday that on July 11 at 7:40 p.m., a call came in to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from the father of a man who was camping long-term on state land in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area, in violation of the law.

Rangers said the 36-year-old male from Crown Point was communicating with his father over the course of several weeks but the father stated that he had not heard from the son in some time and that he had missed the last two supply drops. Worried about his son’s well-being, he requested Forest Rangers do a welfare check based on his last known location.

On July 12, Forest Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay with Forest Ranger Marie Arnold attempted to locate the man while Forest Ranger Jamison Martin remained in Schroon Lake to provide communication assistance. They said that after several hours of searching the location described by the father, the father was brought in to lead the Rangers to the correct location.

At 3:20 p.m., the missing man was located near Hedgehog Hill in good condition. He was led out by Forest Rangers and released. Enforcement actions are pending Rangers say.


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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.

32 Responses

  1. Ah says:

    What harm is this man doing by camping, everyone needs a place to live ,would you rather he be sleeping on the side walk

    • Kathy says:

      The father asked for help in case his son was in distress. They did not go in to get him for camping.

  2. Harv Sibley says:

    Camping on public land is by permit and by the rules. We simply cannot have squatters. I don’t think this guy was squatting but rules are rules. It really depends on where he was and for how long…which this article really does not address.

    • philip mccoy says:

      harv he was squatting been there 2yrs full time. had to move off the private land he was illegaly living on because of a forest fire he started. cut many tree’s he was there year around.

  3. Big Burly says:

    There are many such camps around the DAKs. Paddling the upper reaches of many streams would be confirmation. Likely as not no permits issued for same. Over the years learned it is best when traveling in the far back woods to be prepared to defend oneself.

    • tjp898@yahoo.com says:

      I’ve hiked in the remote regions and most of the NPT and have come across some “long term stay camps.” Never felt threatened in the least, mostly, because I know how to mind my own business. I’ve also come across people camped out in lean tos that are less than 2 miles from a road, that I was more than concerned about. I preach to my kids when we hike, the dangerous people are closer to the road and the most dangerous animals are unleashed dogs.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Yeah I echo the comments concerned with the legality here. Honestly curious – under what conditions is long term camping illegal?

    I think in certain situations it would be possible to have a significant environmental impact – not sure if the case here though?

  5. Chris buckeye says:

    State land Is own by the people of ny..there tax money has paid for the land. But If you look around. In the park. There are so many people from nyc.buying up state land. Like around the river banks. And net the waters for fish. The woodcock Owen many miles of the river banks . And have it. Posted ..but when your on the water .you can we the nets they are catching the fish. Every year.
    But that’s ok. And a man who just wants to be alone can get brought up in charge a

  6. Paying ny resident says:

    Its a state park. New Yorkers pay for but can’t use. City nuts and out state nut come ware down the trails to mud,litter emptywater bottles,cut down tree’s for tents an camp fires. An the rangers say oh its all good … but let one guy camp in one small spot and oh boy that is not right!! The park is a joke its just a playground for out state city people and we nys pay for it and started in the sixties….

    • Boreas says:

      Someone who lives off the grid in the woods probably doesn’t pay taxes. If you are unemployed, don’t own land or pay rent you likely aren’t helping to pay for the public lands you are living on – others are. If you do pay taxes, it still doesn’t entitle you to stake out a claim on public land to live on.

      How many landowners would let a person squat without permission on their land? I wouldn’t. So that is one reason why the state distinguishes between camping and squatting. It is probably ok to camp year-round in the Park, you just need to keep a temporary camp and move it every 3 weeks or whatever the time limit is in that area. I think that is reasonable.

      • Boreas says:

        Make that 3 DAYS.

        • James Marco says:

          Boreas, I think 3 days without a permit. Up to two or three weeks with one. (I never stay that long in one place.) I am not sure about the three weeks, you might be allowed to stay there indefinitely.

          • Boreas says:


            I imagine a lot depends on if any structures are used and how close to a water supply you are. Frankly, if you are far enough off a trail, who is going to know you are there? Rangers hardly have time to patrol any more.

      • Michael Turner says:

        Have you ever listened to yourself?
        I ask because your statement can literally be summarized as,
        “Blah Blah Blah, the state owns you, your land and your labor. You get nothing, you have nothing and you are nothing until the State says so” Then some more blah blah blah pay more taxes nonsense.

  7. Paul says:

    It depends who the squatter is. Clarence Petty’s family lived illegally on state land:

    “initially in a cabin without electricity on state land”


    Seems to produce some well loved defenders of the forest! I guess the good old days are gone.

    • Joe Hansen says:

      Paul, Of course the good old days are gone. What was the world’s population when Clarence Petty was a boy? Maybe 1/4 of what it is today. If anything of real value in this world is to be preserved then common sense rules for use must be embraced.

      • Paul says:

        There is more state owned Forest Preserve land now than when Clarence was a boy. If you add in easement land that the public has access to and development is very limited its a lot more land. The population of the largest town near where he lived (Saranac Lake) in the late 1920’s and when they were living on State Land was about 8000. Today it is between 5000 and 6000.

        Not saying we should allow squatters just think it is interesting to understand the demographics.

  8. James Marco says:

    Well, the rules state that for camping for more than three days requires a permit. They don’t usually bother, but where someone has been in the woods for a long time, they invoke this rather than the full penalty and relatively involved legal process to remove them. More’r’less a convenience.

  9. philip mccoy says:

    its about time he has been living on state land for 2yrs no permits cutting tree’s

  10. Mac says:

    I hope he didn’t have any pet grey squirrels.

  11. Michael Turner says:

    You could try leaving him to camp out. He obviously wasn’t in the way of anyone, taking from anyone, or even interacting with anyone other than family. Authorities didn’t even know he was there his footprint was so minimal.

    This is precisely the kind of thing I imagine when statist say crap like, “If you don’t like taxes, go live in the woods!”
    Sorry, not allowed cause it’s illegal to just go live your d*mn life!

  12. Rick says:

    God forbid someone would be ballsy enough to rough it long term in OUR land and NY not be able to charge him rent or some property tax.
    But they will surely get their money in some b.s. court proceeding

  13. Todd Eastman says:

    Impacts on habitat and water quality are exacerbated during long-term camping. No public land managers in the US allow non-permitted stays on the public lands.

  14. frankw says:

    I camped “long term” or “residential” anywhere from a few weeks to months during different periods of life. Squatted in a cabin for two years also. I remember those days with fondness, yeah I had a job but my career at the time was skiing, bike riding, and hiking. I’m not a bad person, deranged, or weird. It just fit the lifestyle I wanted at the time. Keep things clean and orderly and people had no clue I was there.

  15. Kirk says:

    I’m guessing that the laws against long term camping also exist to prevent impromptu communities from showing up. Ever heard of Burning Man? 60,000+ people show up in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for a week and then leave again. You wouldn’t want that to happen without someone applying first!

  16. Justin Farrell says:

    I don’t think it’d be that difficult to live on state land & move your camp every three days. Especially if you’re near a town & have the means & are using the 150 foot regulation. Would it be illegal to just rotate between say 3 or 4 campsites every couple weeks?

    • Boreas says:


      I think this would depend on the interpretation of the word “permanent”. Even if you rotate campsites taking all gear and shelters with you, if one person keeps coming back to the same ad hoc “sites” it may be considered permanent as it leaves more of an impact. Rotation may be more suitable to designated tent sites that are hopefully properly sited to minimize waste, water, and fire problems. But without backcountry patrolling, who knows how many people are already doing just this – both on public and private lands.

  17. Kathy says:

    If he had kept in touch with his father with supplies drop off and communication the Rangers would probably not have even known he was there. They were doing a welfare check for his father who asked them for help thinking his son may have been in trouble. I m sure the resources and time spent locating him were not begrudged but they also had to recognize the regulations they are paid to enforce. I’m sure they had many other duties they needed to do rather than check on the welfare of an adult who was irresponsible for keeping in touch with his family on a,regular basis since they were aiding him on his extended “camping” trip.

  18. Mac says:

    It’s an “outlaw camp” . In NYS state we have a generous amount of land, a generous permit system for back country use and good folks to help if you obey the rules. Do it legal , it proves your not an outlaw. DEC isn’t going to hound you at your permitted camp. They just like to know how much use and how many people are using the resource. Combine an out law camp and a blowdown or ice storm you will get your fill of a wilderness experience.

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