As the founder of Lean2Rescue [the volunteer repair group featured in September/October 2010], I’m often asked about our cooperative relationship with the DEC. I credit this to my instinctive trust of the department based on the privilege of knowing Ranger Douglas King.
I first met Doug in the spring of 1974 when I was nineteen. A few of us intended to spend the entire summer in the woods in secrecy because of the all-too-common myth that the DEC would “just hassle us.”
When Doug showed up at the campsite, our suspicions were immediately disarmed by his respectful and friendly approach. He took a genuine interest in our intentions, showing us we could meet our goals within the rules.
Doug taught us about the wilderness, encouraging us to give back. Under his guidance, we removed tons of garbage and cleared miles of trails. We experienced the deep personal reward derived from stewardship, becoming part of the Adirondack story instead of just visitors.
Doug planted the seed that eventually grew into Lean2Rescue.
True to his values, when required to carry a sidearm by the DEC, Doug left the department, choosing to work for the National Park Service. Three years later, in the most bitter of ironies, Doug was shot to death in a robbery while returning to New Mexico from a visit to the Adirondacks. Having been killed off duty, there is no official recognition of Doug’s life, his work, his influence, or his death.
It is time we recognize Doug King, the person he was, the contributions he made, the influence he still has, as well as those who continue his legacy of respect and stewardship of the Park.
Paul Delucia, Baldwinsville, NY