Rumi said “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” In New York State for over 100 years Forest Rangers have provided protection for people and state land using their expertise in fighting fires,  search and rescue for people while providing education, law enforcement, while caring for the forests. People who choose to become Forest Rangers do so because they love the forests and want people in the state to experience the awe of these amazing forests. The Forest Ranger Foundation was founded in 2023 to help bridge the gap for what New York State provides financially for the gear rangers need to do their jobs, along with facilitating additional trainings and support for Forest Rangers. I had the honor to talk with Mark Brand, one of the co-founders of this remarkable non-profit.

Protecting the people from the forest and the forest from the people.” Unknown

Once an individual is accepted to become a New York State Forest Ranger the 28 week training begins. The majority of the training focuses on the same basic skill training required for NYS police officers. Additional training includes wildland search and rescue, technical rope rescue , wildland fire, incident management, swift water rescue, wilderness first responder, thin and vertical ice rescue, and State Land protection. After completion of training they become assigned as one of the 130 to 140 Forest Rangers in the state. In New York State 61% of the state is covered by land with almost 19 million acres of forest land. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)   

We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.”                                                                        Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

These friendly neighborhood Forest Rangers spend most of their days patrolling state land. Positive relationships exist with the Department of Environmental Conservation and other stakeholders.The majority of interactions with people are educational and helping people respect the forest. Emergencies can happen at any time where a Forest Ranger, sometimes many , has to problem solve intense and complicated situations. Circumstances include being inserted via helicopter into the backcountry in the middle of winter to provide medical care for an injured and hypothermic patient.  Fighting wildfires to protect people, homes, and sensitive habitats. Spending days or weeks searching tirelessly for a lost person. Providing life saving medical measures in the woods. Employing ropes and related equipment to rescue people in dangerous rock or ice situations. Diving into whitewater. Crawling out into thin ice. The list continues.. This work is intense, physically and emotionally. Mental health concerns are real and Mark shared that in the past year two forest rangers died by suicide.

There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.” Washington Irving 

Mark, along with co-founders Andrew Lewis and John Gullen decided they wanted to take action to support these brave Forest Rangers. All three currently serve as New York State forest rangers. Equipment and gear is provided by the DEC, yet high quality gear and equipment is costly. Items wear out quickly due to the demands of the job. As the Foundation grows, plans include supplementing issued rescue equipment, facilitating trainings to help improve ranger skills and additional support for mental health. Family days, annual galas to celebrate these wilderness first responders are projects the foundation wants to incorporate down the road.

Provide additional equipment, training and support for New York State Forest Rangers to improve their unique abilities to protect lives and resources.” Forest Ranger Foundation

With honor we shine the Kindness Champion Spotlight on the Forest Ranger Foundation. By providing aid and support for wilderness first responders who work hard in three major roles in the state which include “public land protection, search and rescue and wildland fire suppression.” Forest Ranger Foundation we thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world.


For more information on the Forest Ranger Foundation here is their information: 


Facebook: @TheForestRangerFoundation

Instagram: @forest_ranger_foundation