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For Release: Monday, July 16, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 7/9 - 7/15/18

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 the backcountry.

In 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 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, 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:

Town of Brighton
Franklin County
Wildland Search:
At 7 p.m. on July 5, a citizen discovered the vehicle of missing person 48-year-old Bruce Waite off Slush Pond Road. Waite is associated with an "Attempt To Locate" bulletin by the North Country Crime Analysis Center and New York State Police. A command post was set up at the Paul Smith Gabriel's Volunteer Fire Department, and over the next eight days, Forest Rangers organized a large-scale search of the surrounding areas of Debar Mountain Wild Forest. During this time, a total of 405 personnel spent 6,400 hours searching for Waite. In total, the efforts included 27 Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, State Police, Paul Smith Gabriel's Fire Department, Franklin County 911 services, Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, and State Department of Corrections Response Team. State Police Aviation, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and K-9 resources were also deployed. Searchers encountered difficult terrain, thick vegetation, and temperatures that exceeded 90 degrees. Despite covering more than 2,000 acres of forest preserve and recovering a few articles of clothing, search efforts were unsuccessful in locating him. Search efforts were concluded on Friday, July 13. State Police will continue the investigation and operations will resume if new information is found.

Town of Denning
Ulster County
Blue Hole Enforcement:
Supporting DEC's comprehensive efforts to protect the unique and popular Blue Hole in the Peekamoose Valley of the Sundown Wild Forest for future generations, the State is implementing a new free permitting system with ReserveAmerica. Since May 14, Forest Rangers have patrolled the Blue Hole to educate visitors about the new permitting system and to ensure compliance with these new regulations and permit requirements, which allow up to 240 visitors to the area per day. These efforts are being coordinated with DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and State Police. Visitors to the Blue Hole under the permit system have reported a more enjoyable experience. Blue Hole stewards, from the Catskill Center, are assisting with on-site education efforts about Leave-No-Trace practices and alternative swimming opportunities in the area. To learn more about the new permitting system, visit DEC's website.

Town of Schroon
Essex County
Wildland Rescue:
At 5:27 p.m. on July 9, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call transferred from Essex County 911 regarding a 66-year-old male hiker from Cohoes who injured his knee after getting lost near Big Pond off Hoffman Road near Schroon Lake. Rangers Jacob DesLauriers and Arthur Perryman responded and located the hiker off the trail at the coordinates provided by dispatch. The hiker was evaluated, treated, and assisted out by Rangers to an awaiting ATV. After being transported to the trailhead, the subject declined further medical care.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wildland Rescue
: At 12:33 p.m. on July 10, DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a Boy Scout leader reporting that a 14-year-old group member had sustained an ankle injury while attempting to hike the Marcy Brook Trail. The group splinted the subject's injury. The DEC Marcy Dam caretaker located the boy on the trail and began assisting him out of the woods. Forest Ranger James Giglinto responded to Marcy Dam with an off-road utility vehicle. Ranger Giglinto and the caretaker assisted the subject and one group leader down to the UTV, where they were then transported back to the High Peaks Information Center. All units were back in service by 5:30 p.m.

Town of Pleasant Valley
Dutchess County
Wildland Search:
At 6:55 p.m. on July 12, DEC Dispatch received a call from a mother reporting her 15-year-old son lost mountain biking on Taconic Hereford Multiple Use Area. She reported that her son was on the blue trail and that she was at the Pond Gut Road parking area waiting for him. Although the mountain biker's cell phone was low on battery, dispatch was able to make contact and obtain coordinates of the hiker's location and advise him not to move as Rangers were on their way. Prior to Ranger arrival, the father of the lost biker and another sibling began to ride the property in attempt to locate him. Forest Rangers arrived and were able to locate all members around 10:45 p.m., and escorted them to the trailhead.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wildland Rescue
: At 12:54 p.m. on July 12, DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission requesting assistance for a 74-year-old male from Tinmouth, Vermont, who was fatigued and dizzy at Camp Santanoni. The subject, who has medical concerns, took a horse drawn wagon into Camp Santanoni. Upon arrival he complained of being light headed and nauseous. Forest Ranger Benjamin Baldwin responded to the camp, picked up the subject, and transported him to Newcomb EMS for assistance. The incident concluded at 2:45 p.m.

Town of Madison
Madison County
Wildland Fire:
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on July 13, Forest Rangers were requested to respond to a wildland fire off Johnnycake Hill Road. A 70-year-old landowner had attempted to conduct some residential burning on his property following a logging clear-cut operation this past winter. Wind conditions caused the flames to escape, resulting in a 10-acre fire. It took two Rangers, 120 local fire personnel, and two bulldozers two hours to contain the fire. The high temperatures made efforts to contain the fire especially difficult. Responding volunteer fire departments from Madison County include: Madison, Poolville, North Bookfield, Georgetown, Erieville, Hubbardsville, Munnsville, Morrisville, and Hamilton. The Madison County Sheriff's Department and highway department staff also assisted in suppression efforts.

Remnants of wildland fire caused by residential burn
Remnants of wildland fire caused by residential burn

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wildland Rescue:
At 8:30 p.m. on July 14, Assistant Forest Ranger Brendan Jackson reported to Ray Brook Dispatch that he encountered a hiking group near Lake Colden with a 17-year-old male hiker who had fallen ill during a hike in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker was unable to keep down any liquids or solids and needed assistance back to the trailhead. Jackson began hiking the group of four out to Upper Works while Forest Ranger Russell Martin came in from Upper Works to intercept them. The group was from a camp in the Speculator area and had been dropped off earlier in the week. Ray Brook Dispatch made contact with the camp to arrange for the group to be picked up upon reaching the Upper Works. By 11:22 p.m., the ill hiker's condition had improved and the hikers were turned over to the camp driver and nurse.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wildland Rescue:
At around 4 p.m. on July 14, hikers notified Assistant Forest Ranger Aaron France of an injured hiker at the bottom area of Kaaterskill Falls. The hiker had injured his ankle while walking on rocks in the stream. Companions had assisted the injured hiker up the stone staircase back toward the trailhead until he could no longer bear weight on the ankle. France notified Ranger Robert Dawson and Assistant Forest Ranger Leslie Green, who arrived and began assessing the patient. The hiker's ankle was splinted, but he was unable to walk with the assistance of crutches. The subject was then packaged in a litter and carried the remainder of the trail with assistance from other hikers to Ranger Dawson's vehicle. At the Laurel House trailhead, he declined further medical care.

Help Prevent Wildland Fires
Forest Rangers also responded to several smaller wildland fires during the past week. These were either the result of careless campfires or lightning strikes. Due to the dry conditions that prevail throughout most of the State, Forest Rangers remind people to be careful with fires or ignition devices. It is unlawful to leave a campfire unattended or unextinguished and to set any fire that may endanger the property of another.

Please visit the DEC website to learn more about how to prevent starting wildland fires on DEC's website.

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

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