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For Release: Monday, February 13, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 2/6 - 2/12/17

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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 New York's backcountry.
In 2016, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 356 search and rescue missions, extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions that 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:

Town of Tupper Lake

Franklin County

Search: On Feb. 6, DEC Forest Rangers assisted NY State Police to locate two brothers, 63 and 67 years of age, from Blasdell who were reported missing after a night of snowmobiling. Cell phone records indicated the men's phones were last used the night of Saturday, Feb. 4. Eight Region 5 and seven Region 6 Rangers were dispatched to the scene. By 9 a.m., a NY State Police helicopter with two Ranger observers located both men deceased on Raquette Pond, several hundred yards west of the village of Tupper Lake. Region 6 Rangers brought their airboat, as did the state police and their dive team, and recovered the men, but severe cold and blowing snow made the operation long and dangerous.

Town of Machias

Cattaraugus County

Rescue: On Feb. 6, Forest Ranger Bob Rogers assisted Cattaraugus County police, fire, and EMS personnel with the rescue of a 28-year-old Warsaw woman who was snowmobiling in Bear Creek State Forest. She was riding with a companion when she went off the trail and hit a tree. Her injuries were severe and required a medical flight to Erie County Medical Center. NY State Police conducted the accident investigation but no charges are expected. DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit investigators are conducting a serious injury on state lands investigation.

Crashed Snowmobile in Bear Creek State Forest.
Crashed Snowmobile in Bear Creek State Forest.

Town of Keene

Essex County

Rescue: On Feb. 8, Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus encountered a rock and ice climber that fell 50 feet at Rhiannon Climbing Route near Chapel Pond in the town of Keene. The 47-year-old climber is a licensed guide who was instructing another climber when he slipped and fell. The client was able to assist the instructor to the trailhead, and Mecus administered first aid and transported the injured climber to a local hospital, where he was treated with non-life threatening injuries.

Forest Ranger assists climber down a wall of ice.
Forest Ranger assists climber down a wall of ice.

Town of Lake Pleasant

Hamilton County

Rescue: On Feb. 9 at 3:54 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Hamilton County 911 for a snowmobile accident in the Jessup River Wild Forest. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded to Mason Lake Trailhead to assist Hamilton County Sheriff, Speculator Volunteer Fire Department, and Speculator Volunteer Ambulance Corps in the rescue of a 21-year-old male from Brooklyn. The rescuers traveled five miles on snowmobiles to reach the injured young man by 4:35 p.m. The snowmobiler had been traveling toward Mason Lake when he left the trail, traveled through some trees, and came to rest on the ice of Mason Lake Outlet. Basic first aid was administered and the young man was packaged for travel. Forest Rangers assisted in transporting him back to the trailhead, where he was transferred to a Piseco Ambulance vehicle. He was brought to a landing zone where he was transferred to a Life Net helicopter and flown to Albany Medical Center for further treatment of his injuries. The incident concluded at 7 p.m. The young man was subsequently ticketed for imprudent speed.

Town of Ticonderoga

Essex County

Rescue: On Feb. 11, NY State Police requested Forest Rangers to support their dive team search for two missing Vermont snowmobilers that were presumed to have gone through the ice on Lake Champlain along the New York-Vermont state line near Ticonderoga. Vermont State Police used sonar to find the two snowmobiles submerged in New York waters. Three Rangers brought a DEC airboat to assist divers with the recovery on Sunday. By dusk, neither of the men were found. Operations were cancelled on Monday due to a severe winter storm but are planned to resume on Tuesday.

Town of North Elba

Essex County

Rescue: On Feb. 12 at 12:18 p.m., Essex County 911 center transferred a cell phone call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from three lost hikers on Algonquin Mountain in the Eastern High Peaks region. Two separate cell phone location coordinates were obtained from Essex County, which placed the three hikers slightly southwest of the summit of Algonquin and northeast of the Lake Colden Trail. High winds and low visibility caused the hikers to lose the trail, and they found themselves in an unfamiliar area on the east side of the mountain. Four Forest Rangers began the hike to Algonquin while another maintained cell phone contact and provided a route for the three to self-rescue. The Lake Colden Outpost Caretaker was assigned to monitor the Algonquin Mountain Trail. At 3:38 p.m., the caretaker made voice contact with the three hikers and helped them to the Outpost, where they spent the night recuperating.

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

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