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For Release: Tuesday, August 20, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 8/12/19 - 8/18/19

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 August 12 at 12:11 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man reporting that his wife had a non-weight bearing ankle injury on the side of Little Porter Mountain. The injury occurred when she and two others went off the hiking trail. Coordinates provided by Essex County 911 placed the hikers just over a half-mile from where they started their hike in Keene Valley. Forest Rangers Robbi Mecus, Kevin Burns, James Giglinto, Thomas Gliddi, David Russel, Benjamin Baldwin, Peter Evans, and James Waters responded. Forest Rangers were at the scene at 1 p.m., and a request for assistance was made by Lieutenant Christopher Kostoss for New York State Police Aviation assistance. At 3:40 p.m., Forest Rangers performed a hoist operation using a harness to get the 55-year-old injured hiker from Fairfax, Virginia, into the helicopter. She was then brought to a local hospital for treatment. All Forest Rangers were clear of the scene at 4:40 p.m.

Forest Rangers securing the injured person for lift off in the helicopter

view looking up at the helicopter hovering with the injured person attached to the ropes
Rangers and State Police perform an aviation-assisted rescue on Little Porter Mountain

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On August 12, Forest Rangers Katie Fox, Dylan McCartney, and Melissa Milano, Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff, and additional volunteers conducted a nine-acre prescribed burn at the Preserve in a wood lot near the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center. This treatment, in a mowed pitch pine scrub oak forest, will increase openings in the pine barrens to allow wild blue lupine to flourish and improve the preserve's habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly.

Area of land with some trees and grass that has been burned by the prescribed fire
Completed prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County
Larceny Investigation:
On August 13, Forest Ranger Robert Stratton received a call from DEC Central Dispatch about a possible larceny at Alder Lake within Balsam Lake Wild Forest. A camper's table, chairs, firewood, and food were stolen during the previous two days when he left his campsite to tend to family business. When the camper returned, he went to a neighboring campsite to ask if they saw anyone take his things. While speaking to the people at the adjacent campsite, he saw his table and chairs, and when questioned, the campers told him they were borrowing them. He then hiked to cell phone coverage and called 911 to report the incident. At roughly 9 p.m., Forest Ranger Stratton and New York State Police arrived on scene. One of the campers denied taking any material from the complainant's campsite in the initial interview, but upon further investigation, it was determined that the individual had taken firewood, food, and the table and chairs from the complainant. Forest Ranger Stratton then issued the camper a ticket and evicted him from the campsite.

Blue Mountain Lake
Hamilton County
Community Outreach:
On August 14, Forest Ranger Jason Scott and Smokey Bear visited the Adirondack Experience (formerly the Adirondack Museum) to celebrate Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday. Ranger Scott and Smokey Bear spent the evening with visitors from throughout the United States and demonstrated to young and old alike how quickly a fire can spread when left unattended. This stop was one several events being held throughout the state to celebrate 75 years since the 1944 launch of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign, the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history, with a message for everyone about how "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires."

A young girl in a chair with Smokey Bear and a Forest Ranger standing nearby

Smokey Bear stands by while a Forest Ranger gives a demonstration to a group of kids
Ranger Scott and Smokey Bear help educate children to prevent wildfires

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 17 at 8:41a.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch advising of a 64-year-old female hiker from Tupper Lake who fell and lacerated her head while descending Ampersand Mountain. The hiker advised that she would continue descending the mountain but requested Rangers meet her on the trail. Forest Rangers Robert Zurek and Peter Evans responded to assist. Forest Rangers located the hiker at 9:39 a.m. and administered first aid to her head laceration. The subject was escorted out to the trailhead where she advised she would seek medical attention on her own at a local hospital. The incident concluded at 10:15 a.m.

Town of Denning
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 17 at 4:45 p.m., Ulster County 911 received a call reporting a 41-year-old male hiker having difficulty breathing on the Table Trail on Peekamoose Mountain. Forest Rangers Howard Kreft, Robert Stratton, and Callee Baker responded to assist. A crew led by Forest Ranger Stratton and members of the Grahamsville Fire Department proceeded to hike in on the Peekamoose Trail and made contact with the hiker, his son, and sister-in-law at 6:20 p.m. The hiker was medically evaluated by an EMT with the crew and treated for dehydration and exhaustion. The group proceeded back down the trailhead and was further evaluated by a mobile medic once they were out of woods. The incident concluded at 7:30 p.m.

Town of Highland
Sullivan County
Campsite Inspections:
On August 18, Forest Ranger Richard Franke was patrolling and conducting inspections of occupied campsites at Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area when he observed several violations at the Hickok Brook waterfront campsite. The campsite had trash discarded in the fire ring, an axe in a tree, and fresh trees/saplings were cut down along the water's edge. Forest Ranger Franke also observed three milk jugs floating in the water which the subjects were using to catch snapping turtles by attaching leaders and hooks to the milk jugs with chicken as bait. Ranger Franke contacted DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Jason Smith and notified him of the violations for illegally pursuing protected wildlife. The subject was interviewed and ticketed after admitting to cutting down the trees. When the officers further investigated the subject, it was discovered he had an outstanding arrest warrant from Ulster County. The man was then placed into custody and transported to Greenfield Park Post Office where the officers turned him over to the Ulster County Sheriff's Department.

Town of Peru
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 18 at 5:34 p.m., Forest Ranger David Russell advised Ray Brook Dispatch that he heard radio traffic from Clinton County 911 reporting a 52-year-old female from Charlotte, Vermont, with a lower leg injury on Valcour Island. After Dispatch confirmed this report, Forest Rangers Russell, Glen Bronson, and Jared Booth responded by boat. Clinton County 911 also advised that Clinton County Sheriff's Deputies were on scene and that the Keeseville Fire Department and Peru EMS were responding. Forest Rangers, Deputy Sheriffs, and volunteers helped the injured woman get to safety by way of low angle rescue followed by a boat ride to shore. At 7:10 p.m., the woman was taken to a local hospital by Peru EMS.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 18 at 8:44 p.m., Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch for a couple on Shelving Rock Mountain unable to make it back down the mountain due to darkness. Dispatch advised the pair not to use the light function on their phone in order to conserve their already low battery power. With the coordinates provided by Washington County 911, Dispatch placed the two hikers near the summit of Shelving Rock. Forest Ranger Evan Donegan responded to assist the hikers and made contact with the couple at 11:41 p.m., at which point he supplied them with lights and assisted them back down to the trailhead. The party made it back to the trailhead by 12:32 a.m., at which point Forest Ranger Donegan was cleared from the scene.

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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