The May/June Adirondack Explorer now landing in subscribers’ mailboxes contains two profiles of forest rangers, Julie Harjung and Scott van Laer, by reporter Gwendolyn Craig. Both of these rangers have worked the woods for 25 years and are now retiring. Gwen visited van Laer as he wrapped up is work, and shot the short video that you can view here.
These stories honor the work these public servants have done to keep us and every Adirondack visitor safe and educated. Gwen revisits their careers, including the lives they saved, the rescues that sadly turned to recoveries, the work that van Laer did in advocating for the ranger corps, and the paramedic experience that Harjung put to work in training colleagues and others to become wilderness first responders.
I found one of Harjung’s quotes especially telling. “I will miss the field days, the fact that you can literally spend a whole day on snowmobiles, on skis, on snowshoes, on foot, in a boat, just exploring areas that you’ve never been before,” she said. “I’m still finding them, even though I’ve been at it for years and years.” If she’s still learning the Adirondacks, imagine how long it will take the rest of us.
These stories are full of serious recollections that illustrate the significance of the work. But there’s also some, fun, like the time van Laer had to shut down a taco stand that someone had set up in a designated wilderness area.
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Brandon’s “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.
Photos: Scott van Laer reflects on his career with NYS DEC. Julie Harjung recently retired after 25 years with DEC. Both by Mike Lynch/Adirondack Explorer.