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For Release: Monday, July 30, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 7/23 - 7/29/18

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.

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's 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 Webb
Herkimer County
Wildland Search:
At 5:38 p.m. on July 25, Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by staff at DEC's Nicks Lake Campground for a group of lost hikers. The 16 hikers included six adults and ten children ranging in age from 5 to17 years old. They had left Nick's Lake for a day hike to Remsen Falls, an eight-mile round trip. Thirteen of the hikers were together but lost on the trail, while two of the children had gone ahead of the main group toward the Falls and could not be located. Six Forest Rangers and two Town of Webb police officers initially responded and set up a command post at the campground office. The initial caller was contacted via text by Dispatch to obtain coordinates. At approximately 9 p.m., Ranger Brandon Poulton located the group of 13 and walked them back to the campground. Ranger Howard Thomes and Webb Police Department Officer Trevor Tormey located an 11-year-old male and a 17-year-old female cold and wet from heavy rainfall but in good health at 10 p.m. The children had attempted to turn back during the hike but heavy blowdown forced them to continue to the Nelson Lake lean-to, turning their hike into approximately 10 miles.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wildland Rescue:
At approximately 5 p.m. on July 26, Forest Ranger Robert Dawson was requested to respond to Kaaterskill Falls for a female hiker who was feeling ill and light headed. Rangers Robert Dawson and Melissa Milano located the hiker on the yellow trail above the stone staircase. She was complaining of weakness in her legs and light headedness. After providing food and fluids and resting with her for a while, Rangers were able to help her hike out the remaining distance with the aid of hiking poles. The female hiker had a 14-month-old daughter, who was carried out by Ranger Dawson. By 6:30 p.m., they met an awaiting town of Hunter Ambulance at the South Lake Spillway, where they were further evaluated and transported to the Columbia Memorial Hospital. Ranger Dawson then proceeded to the Brookside Campground in Palenville to advise the hiker's family of the events.

Town of Benson
Hamilton County
Wildland Search:
At 5:12 p.m. on July 26, a call came into Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an overdue hiker from the Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center in Benson. A 71-year-old male hiker went out to enjoy the lake and nearby creeks. When he did not return as planned, the property owner contacted Forest Rangers asking for assistance. Forest Rangers were dispatched to the Vacation Center to begin search efforts for the hiker. After extensive searching of the trail system on the property and the Silver Lake Wilderness, they located the hiker in good health at 8:50 p.m. At 10:18 p.m. he was returned to the Vacation Center and evaluated by local EMS before being released back to his cabin.

Town of Hague
Warren County
Wildland Search:
At 12:52 p.m. on July 28, DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance for a couple with their three children, all under 8 years of age, from West Orange, N.J., who became disoriented on the Rogers Rock Trail. The family had been staying at the Rogers Rock Campground and had attempted to hike to the overlook atop Rogers Rock. They became disoriented on the trail system and contacted 911 for assistance. Forest Rangers responded, hiked to the 911 cell phone coordinates and located the mother and three children. The father had attempted to hike out prior to Ranger arrival and get help. Rangers escorted the hikers back to the campground with everyone reunited by 4:24 p.m.

Forest Ranger Evan Donegan escorting a family off Roger's Rock
Forest Ranger Evan Donegan escorting a family
off Roger's Rock

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Recovery:
At 2:59 p.m. on July 28, DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Hamilton County of a possible drowning at Buttermilk Falls. Forest Rangers responded to the scene and confirmed that a 43-year-old male had drowned while swimming in the Raquette River at a popular swim hole in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest. A DEC Environmental Conservation Investigator and New York State Police Investigators were called to the scene and are investigating the incident. All DEC personnel were clear of the scene at 7:05 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wildland Rescue
: On July 28, Ranger Dawson was approached by friends of an injured hiker at Kaaterskill Falls stating that their friend had sustained an ankle injury. Upon assessing the hiker, Ranger Dawson found the 30-year-old female hiker from Brooklyn to have a stable right ankle injury. First Aid was provided by Ranger Dawson, who provided her with crutches and a walking staff to assist her in walking out to his patrol vehicle. She was then driven the remaining distance to the trailhead, where she declined any further medical treatment.

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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