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For Release: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/27 - 6/2/19

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 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 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."

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 27 at 9:50 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from an Assistant Forest Ranger who encountered a hiker with an ankle injury near Lake Colden. The subject, a 31-year-old male from Howard Beach, could bear weight on the ankle but needed assistance getting out. The Assistant Ranger splinted the ankle to stabilize the injury and assisted with walking the hiker out. A UTV was staged at Marcy Dam in case the hiker’s mobility declined. By 10:30 a.m., the subject had made it to the Lake Colden Outpost. He continued down the trail and was handed off to two additional Assistant Rangers who escorted him to Marcy Dam. After reaching Marcy Dam at 3:45 p.m., Ranger James Giglinto gave the hiker a ride out back to the trailhead. The subject advised he would seek medical attention on his own and the incident concluded at 5:28 p.m.

Town of Duane
Franklin County
Wilderness Training:
From May 28 to May 30, DEC Forest Rangers in Region 5 hosted members of the U.S. Air Force’s 20th Air Support Squadron from Fort Drum for three days of wilderness training in DeBar Mountain Wild Forest. Members of the unit camped out for two nights in the backcountry, conducting wilderness skill, survival training, and team building exercises.

Forest Rangers dressed in camo in the woods during wilderness training Forest Rangers pose for a photo with a lake and mountains in the background during wilderness training
Forest Rangers Scott Sabo and Capt. John Streiff joined a crew from the U.S. Air Force’s 20th Air Support Squadron from Fort Drum in wilderness training

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 29 at 8:25 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request to assist with an overdue hiker from the Adirondak Loj. The hiker, a 21-year-old female from Wellesley Island, had left the Loj at 9:30 a.m. to hike Street and Nye’s "trailless" peaks. The hiker had contacted her mother by cell phone at 7 p.m., stating she was lost but had camping gear and a headlamp. Dispatch attempted to contact the hiker via cell and text with negative results. Two Forest Rangers responded to the Loj property to search on the main herd paths, and with no success by 1:15 a.m., the Rangers advised they were returning to the Loj to prepare for the next day’s search. The following day, six Forest Rangers searched the herd paths around Street and Nye mountains. The hiker spent the night on a herd path approximately 30 minutes from the Loj and when she woke up in morning, she continued walking on the path in good condition with another hiker who escorted her to the Indian Pass Trail and then on to the Loj. Rangers conducted a brief interview with the hiker and the incident concluded at 9:40 a.m.

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation
Franklin County
Law Enforcement Awards:
On May 29, the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board held its annual Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony for efforts related to traffic and DUI enforcement. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department hosted the event. Awards were presented to local police officers from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police, Malone, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake Police Departments, as well as New York State Troopers, DEC Forest Rangers, and DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs).

Two ECOs, a Forest Ranger and a legislator stand to post for a picture after the Law Enforcement Awards
Pictured (left to right) are Franklin County Legislator Don Dabiew, Environmental Conservation Police Officer Jeff Hovey and Lt. Rob Higgins, and Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff. Capt. Streiff accepted an award on behalf of Forest Ranger Joe LaPierre

Town of Orchard Park
Erie County
High Angle Rescue Training:
On May 30 and 31, Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 8 and 9 participated in an annual rope rescue training. These exercises help hone Rangers’ skills and enhance their knowledge of new techniques and equipment. The training also helps the Rangers to maintain accreditation with the Mountain Rescue Association as a division. On the second day of the exercise, Rangers rappelled or were lowered into a gorge utilizing different techniques for belay and lowering of rescue loads.

Close-up of a Forest Ranger practicing rope techniques for rescues. Group of Forest Rangers in the woods practicing rope rescue techniques
Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 8 and 9 train in rope rescue techniques

Town of Kingston
Ulster County
Defensive Tactics Training:
On May 30 and 31, Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4 participated in a defensive tactics refresher training at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) training facility. Topics included the review of existing and new techniques that keep officers safe in the field, handcuffing techniques in varying circumstances, proper use of deadly physical force, and new ground escape and control tactic compliance techniques. The defensive tactics instructors included Forest Rangers Philip Parlier, Joseph Pries, Lt. Gregory Hoag, and Lt. Robert Morse.

Forest Rangers in a gymnasium practicing defensive tactics Forest Rangers on mats in a gymnasium learning and practicing defensive techniques
Forest Rangers practice defensive tactics during training

Town of Whitestown
Oneida County
Swift Water Rescue Instruction:
On May 30 and 31, Forest Rangers Art Perryman, Bruce Lomnitzer, and Jason Scott provided swift water instruction alongside New York State Fire officials and Aaron Peeler, head of the swiftwater rescue program at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. The training focused on rescues for non-motorized boats in flood environments and paddling skills of whitewater kayakers. A one-day paddling skills workshop was also held on the West Canada Creek in Middleville.

Forest Ranger in a kayak on a river practicing kayak rescues
Forest Rangers train for kayak rescues

Village of Woodridge
Sullivan County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 30 at 6:55 p.m., a group of six men went hiking at the Neversink Gorge Trail. Two of the hikers from New Hartford decided to swim across the Neversink River. After the 22- and 23-year-old hikers made it across the river, they determined they couldn’t make it back. The other four hikers then left the area to call for assistance. While the two stranded hikers looked for another area to cross the river safely, Forest Rangers Matthew Hettenbaugh, Richard Franke, and Robert Stratton arrived on the scene. Forest Ranger Hettenbaugh traveled up stream about quarter of a mile where he located the stranded hikers. Both hikers where able to make it across the river and walk back to the trailhead. All Rangers were cleared of the scene at 9:20 p.m.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 30 at 8:13 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a lost hiker on Ampersand Mountain. The 25-year-old hiker from Fredonia stated that he was trying to leave the summit but could not locate the trail. The initial 911 coordinates plotted by dispatch were just off the summit. The second 911 coordinates showed the subject had gone north and was unable to navigate once he reached the tree line. Forest Ranger Scott Sabo responded to the Ampersand trailhead, hiked to the coordinates near the summit, and located the hiker. The hiker was given water and escorted back to the trailhead by 1:15 a.m.

Town of Santa Clara
Franklin County
Wildland Search:
On May 31 at 3:03 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 59-year-old female and a 69-year-old male from Williston, VT. The couple had hiked St. Regis Mountain, reached the summit, and came down the wrong side. Franklin County provided coordinates for the hikers based on their 911 call. Three Forest Rangers responded. Ranger Scott Sabo attempted to relay instructions to follow a compass bearing to get back to the trail. A second call to 911 determined the hikers were headed in the wrong direction, so Rangers advised the hikers to stay in one place. Rangers searched the drainage areas based on the coordinates with negative results as the hikers continued to move despite directions to stay put. At 6:15 p.m., the pair was located in good condition and escorted back to the trailhead by 6:50 p.m.

Town of Dresden
Washington County
Water search:
On May 31 at approximately 8 p.m., a rowboat with four males capsized while the group was fishing on South Bay of Lake Champlain. Three of the occupants swam to shore, while the fourth became entangled in fishing line, causing him to drown. The three men who reached the shoreline walked and swam portions of the shore for two hours to get help. Resources arrived on scene and began searching for the missing boater. Forest Ranger Donegan arrived and ordered more Rangers and equipment to the scene. On June 1 at approximately 5:15 a.m., the missing man was located deceased by Forest Rangers Evan Donegan and Logan Quinn. The New York State Police Dive Team was requested for a recovery, and with the assistance of a Forest Ranger airboat, they recovered the body and turned it over to the Washington County Coroner. The boat was recovered and returned to family members.

View of an air boat with Forest Rangers on it, searching for a lost fisherman
Forest Rangers search South Bay for missing fisherman

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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