Saturday, December 17, 2022

Graduation of 38 NYS Forest Rangers brings back memories of becoming a Ranger in 1965

Graduating Forest Rangers

We had a trickle of winter white, but we could use more. I believe the ground froze, as we had a few nights around twenty [degrees] before this little snowfall. Some loons forgot to leave, and three were frozen in First Lake yesterday [Sunday, December 11]. Two flew out during the day, and I have not heard about the other one. There were [also] a couple Bald Eagles keeping watch and waiting for a snack. Please remind your children to stay off the ice until we have some really cold weather [for the sake of their safety]. This on-and-off warm then cold weather hasn’t made the ice safe yet, so stay off [it] as a fall through the ice can be life threatening.

I’m sure you have heard that a week ago Friday [Dec. 9] there was a graduation of the 38 New York State Forest Rangers to the force after completing six months [of] training at the 23rd basic academy, just for Forest Rangers. [Graduates trained] part of the time at ESF’s Wanakena Ranger School and part of the time at ESF’s Newcomb facility. Other venues in the state were used for training [such as] white water rescue, defensive driving training, and gun training by Forest Rangers and other state agencies. All these Forest Rangers were sworn as Police Officers of the State of New York. The ceremony was held at the Lake Placid ice rink facility where the Miracle on Ice happened at the 1980 Olympics when the USA Men’s Ice Hockey Team beat the Russian [Ice] Hockey Team. The graduates got to watch the video of the game as it compared to what they (and their instructors) have accomplished for the Forest Ranger Force.


DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos gave a nice congratulation speech to the graduates as did DEC Division Director of Forest Protection John Solan. I don’t believe any of the graduates were even born when the Miracle on Ice happened, but they could surely compare their experience to that event. It was nice to have the leadership of the force make this comparison and make it happen where this event [occurred]. Congratulations [to] all! This brings the Forest Ranger force up to 159 statewide…the most ever. Many will be assigned to the Adirondack and Catskill Park areas. Local [resident] Evan R. Nahor was one of the graduates, and he was assigned to the Saratoga Springs area and will be living in my hometown of Ballston Spa.


[This ceremony was] somewhat different than when I became a Forest Ranger in August of 1965. My District Ranger, Donald Decker, gave me a badge, a stipulation book, and handshake at the Northville Office. This [was] just before I went up to Speculator and put my family, [including my] wife, Karen, and five-month-old daughter, Erin, and [our] dog and cat on a seaplane and flew into the interior West Canada Lake Ranger Headquarters. That started a 34-year career of on-the-job training by other Forest Rangers.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing. Photo by Gary Lee.

[I] missed another full moon, as the rain clouds blocked any sight of the moon. The next night the sky was very clear, and the stars and the moon were beautiful. [Going] by the calendar, winter begins next week (Wednesday, December 21) and it looks like we might even have some winter by that time. [However,] you never know with the screwy weather everyone has been having. The Evening Grosbeaks are still coming to the feeders in big numbers, and some other folks in the area are also reporting them. I’ve banded another thirty, so some of them must be going further south as I’ve only had one returned bird. I did have one hit a window and I revived him, and he went on his way.


I [had] another Tufted Titmouse show up, and it is now wearing a band and will probably stay the winter. I came out of the post office one day this week and I heard some birds calling very faintly. I finally located them in the big pine tree by the town parking area. They were waxwings, but I couldn’t tell which kind. I thought they were Bohemian Waxwings from their song, but I wasn’t sure. They were all diving down in front of Tony Harper’s and feeding on the fruit of a crab apple tree. It was pouring rain, so I got my binoculars and got on the porch of the restaurant, out of the rain. Sure enough, they were beautiful Bohemian Waxwings. [This] was only the second time I had ever seen them in Hamilton County. I rushed home and got my camera and big lens. They were still feeding on the fruit when I came back, and I got several nice photos of these beautiful birds. They stripped that tree of its fruit, and they also ate what fell on the ground before it got dark.


This will be my Great Granddaughter Milly’s first Christmas, and she is getting ready to celebrate, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Graduating Forest Rangers. Photo by John Strieff.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

3 Responses

  1. louis curth says:

    Gary, your welcome to the rangers in *65 sounds about the same as mine a year earlier at Warrensburg, except that George Stewart, my district ranger, forgot to give me my badge until a couple of weeks later. No matter, secretary, Helen Burton, saw to it that I took a cardboard box home with me containing a generous supply of Conservation Dept. forms for every situation – plus my very own stipulation book. Later on that winter, retired ranger Owen Kane and his wife Catherine would show me how to fill them out. That was ranger training, 1960s style…

  2. KIM POPE says:

    34 years- my the stories you must have !

    Gorgeous photo
    thank you for sharing

  3. Harry Rissetto says:


    Happy holidays. Is you writing leaving the VIEW?

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