The Forest Rangers

Cover of book entitled: The Forest RangersClick here to download: The Forest Rangers: A History of the New York State Forest Ranger Force


In 1984, NYS DEC Division of Lands & Forests Director Norm VanValkenburgh invited me to write a history of the forest ranger force to be included as part of DEC’s plans to celebrate the Forest Preserve Centennial the following year, 1985.  A few months earlier, I had begun a new job as a ranger lieutenant for the Adirondack High Peaks after serving twenty years as a forest ranger in four different ranger districts, doing all the things that rangers do.  In my new job, I was expecting many new challenges, but writing a book was NOT one of them!  To make a long story short, with much trepidation, I agreed to write the book.

What followed were endless hours of research, writing and re-writing, and generous assistance from a small army of wonderful people. Their help, in so many ways, enabled “The Forest Rangers” to make it into print in 1987, and now, to become part of the NY State Library free, on-line book collection, available to everyone.

In hindsight, I am grateful to Norm for affording me this unique opportunity to delve into the intertwined history of forest rangers and forest preserve – two ground-breaking ideas that changed the future of conservation for the better.  The help of so many wonderful people, including many of the conservation icons of my generation, who guided me in this effort is my greatest reward. The publishing of this book is a tribute to them all.

Two men holding an award plaque

A photo of me presenting a gift clock to the book’s editor, Robert F. Hall. I went over to his home in Reber, NY and presented this in appreciation for his editing work.

It is my hope that “The Forest Rangers” might be a useful guide for future rangers. Also, that it might inspire a future generation of caring people and activist organizations to carry forward the vital work of “Adirondack Wild – Friends of the Forest Preserve” in protecting and preserving the “forever wild” character of our public lands for the benefit of all.       

Capt. Louis Curth (ret.)
NYS Forest Rangers
January, 2024

Learn more about the Forest Ranger Foundation (Providing additional equipment, training and support for New Your State Forest Rangers to improve their unique abilities to protect lives and resources.)