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For Release: Monday, June 6, 2016

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/30 - 6/5/16

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.

"Across New York, DEC's Forest Rangers' are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions which take them from remote wilderness areas, with rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Essex County

Town of Minerva
Municipal Land
Injured hiker:
On June 1, 2016 at 8:06 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a request for assistance from a 34-year-old man from Olmsteadville, NY with a possible lower-leg injury on the backside of the Minerva Lake Loop Trail. Based on a description of his location DEC Forest Rangers determined it was necessary to take a boat across Minerva Lake to transport the man back out. Forest Rangers traveled by boat across the lake and reached the man at 9:30 p.m. Minerva EMS was already onsite administering First Aid. Forest Rangers brought the man across the lake to a waiting Minerva EMS ambulance which transported him to an area hospital for additional medical treatment. The incident concluded at 9:50 p.m.

Town of Minerva
Vulnerable person:
On June 3, 2016 at 1:22 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a request for assistance from New York State Police (NYSP) in locating an 80-year-old woman from Pottersville, NY with memory issues. The woman was last seen walking down I-87 in the southbound lane near Pottersville. A passing motorist noticed the woman 300 yards down I-87 near the tree line and called 911. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the location along with NYS troopers. They escorted her out of the woods and NYSP transported her back to her family. The incident concluded at 2:30 p.m.

Town of Keene
High Peaks Wilderness
Lost hiker:
On June 4, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for a missing hiker on remote Allen Mountain. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded overnight and were joined at first light by an additional four Forest Rangers to search drainages and herd paths in the area. At 10:00 a.m. the next day, Forest Rangers advised Ray Brook Dispatch that the hiker had reportedly signed out of a trail register and was in route back to his vehicle. At 10:45 a.m. the hiker returned to his vehicle in good health and all units were clear from the incident. The 58-year-old man from Manlius, NY became lost on Allen Mountain at approximately 3:00 p.m. on June 4 and wandered up and down a creek bed trying to locate the herd path and cairn, camping overnight about 30 feet from the cairn. He was able to find the cairn and path in the morning and came out on his own.

Franklin County

Town of Harrietstown
Private Land
Lost person:
On June 1, 2016 at 7:35 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Franklin County 911 from a 17-year-old man from Saranac Lake, NY lost in the woods outside Saranac Lake. Dispatch directed him to stay in his current location while DEC Forest Rangers were dispatched. Two Forest Rangers responded to the GPS coordinates provided by 911 from the young man's cell phone. Rangers located him at 8:53 a.m. in good physical condition and turned him over to his family. He had traveled into a section of private property with dense post-logging regrowth and into a wetland adjacent to a section of the Saranac Lake Wild Forest.

Hamilton County

Town of Indian Lake
Private Land
Lost hikers:
On May 31, 2016 at 6:45 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a phone call from a 33-year-old woman from Cicero, NY and a 52-year-old woman from Syracuse, NY who became lost on private access roads while attempting to hike the Tirrell Pond area near Blue Mountain Lake. Dispatch directed the women to stay in their current location while DEC Forest Rangers were dispatched. Forest Rangers located the women in good health on private property several miles from their intended route. The Rangers provided them with a ride back to their vehicle. The incident concluded at 9:55 p.m.

Erie County

Town of Persia
Stranded river tubers:
On June 4, 2016 at approximately 6:30 p.m. a DEC Forest Ranger on patrol in Allegany County received word from Erie County dispatch of two stranded river tubers, a 40-year-old woman from Grand Island, NY and a 44-year-old man from Tonawanda, NY, in the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area. One of the tubers called 911 when their inflatable tube caught on a rock and lost air. The distance remaining in the trip and inaccessibility out of the gorge caused concern that the tubers would not be able to make it out on their own before dark. The DEC Forest Ranger coordinated with other rescue teams at the location as he made the long commute, eventually arriving at the location at 9:44 p.m. After speaking with fire and rescue personnel on scene he learned that the Gowanda Rope rescue team was already walking to the stranded tuber's expected location through the river and along the shore through rocky and slippery conditions. A Mercy Flight helicopter assisted with communication relays between the rope team and command post. The search team reached the tubers at 10:14 p.m. At 11:30 p.m. the Forest Ranger and the Eden rope rescue team met the Gowanda team and the tubers at the river confluence to relay drinking water and assist with the return trip. The tubers and responders returned safely back to the command post and 12:20 a.m. on June 5, 2016.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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