Love of the outside and assist from buddies, colleagues encourage homosexual DEC forester

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Forester Kramer Kwaczala of the New York State Department of Conservation is a versatile nature lover; He loves hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing and hiking and he loves sharing these experiences with his husband Gregory Kwaczala.

They both come from outdoor families, although Kramer was the more passionate hunter at first. Gregory became interested in learning to hunt after watching Kramer for a few seasons.

“He saw how much I enjoy the hunt and he wanted to join in,” says Kramer. “We went out and in his first year he shot a doe within 45 minutes of the hunt. He made it look easy. He takes things up very quickly. “

Together they have many memories of outdoor adventures and are looking forward to even more, especially the coming hunting season. Although, said Kramer, he was happy whether he reaped or not.

“I’m excited when I shoot a deer and we both love venison, but we’re fine if we go a year without deer,” he said. “I like all aspects of the hunt. Sit in the forest and watch the forest come to life; the camaraderie. I just love being out there. “

He was personally not stopped in his outdoor activities due to his orientation.

“I was very lucky,” he said. “There has never been a problem. My family was great. My whole family has always stood behind me. Everyone was very accepted when I went to college. The work for DEC has been great. I have seen nothing but open arms. I am very grateful for what I have. “

Kramer believes that dealing with open-minded, compassionate people is the key to positive experiences in nature, especially for LGBTQ + people.

“There is definitely a pressure,” he said. “But if you find the right group of people, it can be great.”

DEC forester Kramer Kwaczala and his German shepherd Ember. Photos by Lynda Sides, courtesy of Kramer Kwaczala.

As an Eagle Scout, Kramer camped his entire life. One of his favorite spots is the DEC Fish Creek Pond campsite. As a child he was there with his family and as an adult he drives with his husband and his in-laws to the adjacent Rollins Pond campsite. Although he also loves to try new places, he keeps returning to Fish Creek Pond for its sentimental value.

Kramer, 29, always knew he wanted a career with a focus on nature.

“I’ve loved being outside since I was younger and my parents took my brothers and me camping,” he said. “I knew I had to do something that had to do with nature.”

Kramer studied at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse and at the SUNY ESF Ranger School in Wanakena. He holds a bachelor’s degree in forest resource management and an associate’s degree in forest technology. He started working at DEC in 2015.

DEC Forester

DEC Forester Kramer Kwaczala (right) and husband Gregory Kwaczala enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, hunting, fishing, camping and canoeing. If possible, bring your German Shepherd Ember for fun. Photos by Lynda Sides, courtesy of Kramer Kwaczala.

He is passionate about making nature accessible to everyone. His work with the DEC includes securing and protecting public access to private recreational land. Kramer, who works from DEC’s main office in Albany, works on the state conservation program. He was part of the team working to secure the nearly 8,000 acres of forest sanctuary and easement land along the South Branch of the Grass River recently announced by the state. The St. Lawrence County acquisitions include 7,047 acres of utility forest and 947 acres to be added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve. He and his team were instrumental in the purchase of the Forest Preserve property known as the South Branch Grass River Tract and the easement of the Cranberry Forest.

This recent easement acquisition connects several DEC easements including the Conifer-Emporium, Grass River, Seveys, Silver Lake and Tooley Pond areas. The 947 acre Forest Preserve parcel consolidates portions of the Grass River Wild Forest and preserves the open space character of approximately six miles of the Scenic Grass River.

Kramer and his team are developing a preliminary recreation management plan for the Parzelle forest reserve to support public use until a recreation management plan is finalized.

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