Conservation officials to expand surveillance of backcountry

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced last week that it will expand its Backcountry Stewardship Program by offering 24 new internship opportunities to college students.

DEC will also reinstate an Assistant Forest Ranger Program that adds 11 new forest rangers to its staff.

The agency's commissioner, Joe Martens, said the added staff would help protect the environment and backcountry visitors.

The Backcountry Stewardship Program is a partnership between DEC and the Student Conservation Association that began in the Adirondack Park more than a decade ago. Today, opportunities extend beyond the Park, including the shores of Lake Ontario and the Catskill Park.

Backcountry Stewards camp out overnight in assigned areas, such as the base of Mount Marcy, and other remote hiking and camping destinations. They are trained to educate the public on ways to minimize their impact on the environment, including fragile alpine ecosystems.

According to DEC, the stewards are assigned to their posts beginning on Memorial Day and some positions last until Columbus Day Weekend.

The assistant forest rangers will help out during search and rescue missions and wildfire suppression.

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