"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s
peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

— John Muir


A History Project: Forest Ranger Scott Van Laer
Introduction By David Gibson, Managing Partner of Adirondack Wild

NYS DEC Forest Ranger Scott Van Laer. Photo by Mike Lynch

In recent months, the public has become far more aware of the difficult job of the NYS DEC Forest Ranger. Their workload is tremendous.

Essentially there are no more DEC Forest Rangers patrolling the Adirondacks, Catskills and other New York public lands from Niagara to Long Island today – about 135 field rangers - than there were fifty years ago. Yet, the terrain they must know intimately, and patrol has grown by over a million acres in that time.
And the number of emergencies involving unprepared or unlucky hikers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and skiers who require the presence of a knowledgeable, prepared Forest Ranger has also grown significantly in that time, increasing by one-third in just one year. What is a Ranger to do?

The need for additional Forest Rangers is urgent. This year, Adirondack Wild and colleagues are calling for the continued strengthening and independence of the Forest Ranger force and an additional 40 new Forest Ranger hires in this year’s State Budget.

No Forest Ranger has done more to educate the rest of us about the responsibilities, challenges, joys and urgent need for new Ranger hires than Scott van Laer of Ray Brook, who since the 1990s has patrolled the High Peaks Wilderness area and helped rescue and educate thousands of outdoor Adirondack enthusiasts.  

A young man living in Saranac Lake named Oliver Halasz recently studied and selected Scott as his homeschool history project.

Scott and Oliver have worked together to create the following short video, and along with Oliver’s parents, Sunita and Steve, they all invite you to learn more through Scott’s own words delivered by this fine young man, Oliver.

Watch and learn what it is like to be a DEC Forest Ranger named Scott van Laer.

A History Project:
“Hello, I’m Scott van Laer. I’m a Forest Ranger in the High Peaks.”

By Oliver Halasz


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The mission of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is to advance New York’s ‘Forever Wild’ legacy and Forest Preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and promote public and private land stewardship that is consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

Top left, Autumn © Ken Rimany; Maple Leaves and Lichen ©Ken Rimany

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
David H. Gibson, Managing Partner
Mobile: 518.469.4081

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve    Founded 1945   PO Box 9247 • Niskayuna New York 12309 | ©