A bill has been introduced in the state Senate by Senator Betty Little and in the Assembly by William Magee to give the authority for training and credentialing search and rescue volunteers to state forest rangers. Senator Little says with only 112 forest rangers, the agency must rely on properly trained volunteers to aid in searches.
New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams Chairman Roger Fox notes that while forest rangers have been training search and rescue volunteers for over 40 years, this legislation would codify programs and provide credentialing to align with a federal framework.
Senator Betty Little says she was not aware of the intensity of backcountry searches until she observed them.
Roger Fox says search and rescue teams are being called upon more often and the credentialing of volunteers is critical.
The proposed legislation does not authorize any funding for training and credentialing.
According to the Senate bill, the New York State DEC conducts about 225 search and rescue efforts annually in wild, remote and forested areas of the state.