Portrait of a Forest Ranger
A Look at Lieutenant Pachan's Love for His Forest Ranger Career
"It is very common for a complete stranger to walk up to me and say, 'I always wanted to be a forest ranger. I wish I had your job.' And every time someone says that, it makes me feel incredibly lucky to have this job," Lieutenant David Pachan said.
Pachan knew early on that he wanted to be a forest ranger. He always enjoyed hiking, fishing and camping, so a career involving activities he likes to do while recreating seemed a clear choice for him.
What does a forest ranger do exactly?
"Forest rangers are police officers. We enforce all New York State laws with an emphasis on Environmental Conservation Law," Pachan said.
Though the job is seldom routine and you never know what the next day will bring, forest rangers have a few key duties.
They conduct search and rescue missions for lost or injured persons across New York State. They also protect wildlands from fire which includes both fire prevention as well as firefighting.
Public outreach and education are crucial aspects of a ranger's job. "We often visit schools to talk to students about the job of a forest ranger. We also teach search and rescue and wildland fire suppression courses," he said.
Forest rangers focus their law enforcement duties on state lands, protecting them from abuse and ensuring that everyone follows "Leave no Trace" (leaves DEC website) outdoor recreation practices.
Being a Forest Ranger Not for Everyone
"You need to be self-motivated. We work with very limited supervision," Pachan said, adding, "Good land navigation skills are a must. You have to be comfortable by yourself since you are often navigating in the back country wilderness alone."
But you also have to be good with people. Rangers deal with people all the time. "Nothing is better than when you can help someone who needs it the most, whether they are lost or injured in the woods, or helping someone out because they have a complaint," he said. An extremely rewarding aspect of the job for Pachan is when he tells people about the work and finds out they may be interested but never knew it was a career option.