Forest rangers, Encon officers accept transfers

Many state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers and environmental conservation officers around the state received new territories in mid-November.

The DEC employees were given the opportunity to apply for transfers to other regions earlier this year as a result of the agency holding a training academy that allowed new recruits to backfill positions. The people who transferred filled positions that were open due to retirements and promotions, among other reasons.

In DEC’s Region 5, there were 10 forest rangers and six ECOs who filled open positions. Some moved from within the region.

Among those filling open spots was forest ranger Pete Evans, who will now cover the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas. He had previously been based out of Lake Clear and the St. Regis Canoe Area. He replaces Joe LaPierre, who is moving to Saratoga County.

In addition, forest ranger Rob Mecus will now cover Keene and the surrounding areas, and Tom Edmunds will cover the St. Regis Canoe Area and surrounding areas.

As for ECOs, Jennifer Okonuk will now cover northern Franklin County and Jeff Hovey will now cover northern Essex County.

The DEC’s staff was bolstered with the graduation of 47 men and women from its Office of Public Protection Academy in Pulaski in mid-October. Thirty-one were ECOs, and 16 were forest rangers.

This was the first academy for forest rangers since 2007 and the first for ECOs since 2008.