New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the nation. With 4.8 million acres of forest, 84% of New Hampshire's landscape is covered with trees, making the forest New Hampshire's most valuable natural resource.
Trees and forests provide critical wildlife habitat, and they clean the water we drink and the air we breathe. These forests provide many wood products and recreational activities, which support and enrich our lives.
THE STATE FOREST RANGER
Forest Rangers are responsible for protecting the forest resources of New Hampshire during all seasons of the year. They work for the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands, Forest Protection Bureau. The Forest Ranger staff includes the Bureau Chief, three Regional Rangers, twelve District Rangers, and a Program Assistant. The Rangers oversee the state wildland fire control program, enforce laws pertaining to timber harvesting operations, wildland fire and the overall protection of New Hampshire's forests.
Forest Rangers are required to have a minimum of an Associate's Degree and must meet specific training and certification requirements in fire fighting and law enforcement. They must have strong communication and leadership skills, and they must be physically fit and willing to do arduous work for long hours.
WILDLAND FIRE PROGRAM
Fire Prevention: Forest Rangers' efforts to prevent wildland fires include educating the public about the state fire permit law and wildland fire safety, and working closely with schools, civic organizations and fire departments to present Smokey Bear programs to children.
Pre-suppression/Detection: New Hampshire has 15 fire lookout towers, three mobile patrols and three contract aircraft for fire detection. To ensure prompt and efficient response to a fire, Forest Rangers train local fire departments in proper wildfire control techniques, and they develop district fire plans.
Fire Suppression: Forest Rangers respond to forest fires within New Hampshire as well as throughout the United States and Canada, and they assist fire departments in controlling wildfires and coordinating fire suppression efforts. Rangers are trained to operate pumps, hand tools, chain saws and other fire suppression equipment.
They also train more than 2400 wardens, deputy wardens and special deputy wardens.
Forest Rangers provide equipment and vehicles to rural fire departments for wildland firefighting through cooperation with the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP).
Fire Investigation/Enforcement: Forest Rangers investigate wildland fires to determine a cause. Once a cause is determined, the responsible party may be subject to fines and court action, and may be required to pay for all suppression costs.
Forest Rangers investigate and prosecute crimes involving the forest resource. They are trained and certified as police officers with statewide jurisdiction and are authorized to enforce laws pertaining to the protection and improvement of forestlands.
Like other law enforcement officers, Forest Rangers employ written warnings, cease and desist orders, administrative summons, court summons and arrest warrants to enforce forest protection laws.
As an effort to promote compliance with forest protection laws, Forest Rangers coordinate and conduct various educational outreach programs and services in cooperation with many other agencies and organizations including the U.N.H. Cooperative Extension, U.S. Forest Service, N.H. Department of Environmental Services, N.H. Fish and Game Department, N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, N.H. Department of Safety, local police and fire departments, conservation commissions, and town governments. Through forums, workshops and one-to-one contact, Forest Rangers educate loggers, natural resource professionals, landowners, town officials and the general public about responsible management of the state's forested resources.
The Forest Health Section was established as the “white pine blister rust control program” in 1917. In 1965 the WPBR control program was expanded into a more general “Forest Insect and Disease Program” with as many as eight full time specialists working on pest issues throughout the state. In 1997 the forest insect and disease program was again broadened to the current title “Forest Health Section” to reflect the increased scope of forest health issues beyond just insects and diseases. The Forest Health program purpose is to monitor for and mitigate forest damaged caused by insects, diseases and a variety of abiotic agents. This task is accomplished through aerial surveillance and mapping of damaged areas, inspecting areas of insect and disease outbreaks, direct service to landowners, cooperating with surrounding state and federal governments to control invasive and exotic pathogens, education, outreach, and enforcement of quarantines.