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For Release: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 8/19/19 – 8/25/19

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 North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 19 at 3:50 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from Assistant Forest Ranger Jonathan Leff stating he had received a report of a 70-year-old male hiker who suffered an ankle injury on a trail in the MacIntyre Range. At 4:23 p.m., Ranger Leff located the injured man from New Rochelle at the Whales Tail Junction. Meanwhile, Forest Rangers James Giglinto, Daniel Fox, Kevin Burns, and Scott Sabo started up the trail to assist. The Forest Rangers carried the man by litter down to a six-wheeler, which was used to drive the subject out to the trailhead. Once back at the trailhead, the injured hiker opted to seek medical treatment on his own and all Forest Rangers were cleared of the scene by 7 p.m.

Four Forest Rangers carry a man on a stretcher through thick woods
Forest Rangers carry injured man out of the woods

Town of Rochester
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call from a woman who reported that she, her husband, and their three young children were lost near Vernoy Kill Falls. The woman was instructed to contact Ulster County 911 so cell phone coordinates could be obtained. Forest Ranger Howard Kreft responded along with the Catskill Hatzalah Ambulance Corp. At 10 p.m., Ranger Kreft located the family and returned them to their car on Upper Cherrytown Road.

Town of Wells
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 20 at 11:57 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Hamilton County 911 for a 38-year-old female hiker from Gloversville who was injured while hiking Auger Falls. Passing hikers reported the woman was injured and that she required assistance for an unstable lower leg injury. Forest Rangers David Kallen and Andrew Lewis responded to assist and were on scene by 12:30 p.m. When the hiker was located, she was with fire department personnel and her leg had been stabilized by EMS. A vertical technical rope rescue was set up to haul her up to a ledge. Once the woman was up on the ledge, she was carried to the trailhead by Forest Rangers and emergency personnel. The hiker was loaded into a waiting ambulance at 2:45 p.m. and transported to a local hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 3:15 p.m.

A Forest Ranger kneels on the top of a small ravine, guiding ropes to rescue a woman below.
Rangers use ropes to lift injured woman from a ravine

Town of Jay
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 21 at 6:15 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from New York State Police requesting assistance searching for a missing 77-year-old woman from the town of Jay. The woman's husband believed she left the house between 1 and 5 p.m. Forest Ranger Dan Fox responded and was on scene at 7:03 p.m. After consulting with on-scene resources, four additional Forest Rangers were dispatched to assist with a search of the immediate area, which included trails, roads, residences, and outbuildings. Forest Rangers were assisted by State Police Troopers and their K-9 units, State Police Aviation, Clinton and Essex County Sheriff’s Departments, DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, friends, and family. Search operations continued into the night, and plans were made for the following day, including identifying necessary resources. On Aug. 22 at 7 a.m., the woman was located in a nearby overgrown field in need of medical assistance. Forest Rangers, State Police, and members of local fire departments carried the woman out to a waiting ambulance to be transported to a local hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 9 a.m.

Tri-City Valley Cats
Rensselaer County
Community Outreach:
On Aug. 23, to celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday, Forest Rangers Hannah O’Connor, Lt. David Pachan, and Smokey Bear visited the Tri-City Valley Cats and baseball fans at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy. Smokey Bear and the Rangers threw out a ceremonial first pitch and greeted the many girl scouts and boy scouts also at the ball game.

Two Forest Rangers pose for a picture behind an informational table at a baseball game

Forest Rangers and Smokey Bear pose for a photo with some members of the Tri City Valley Cats baseball team
Forest Rangers Hannah O’Connor, Lt. David Pachan, and Smokey Bear visit the Tri-City Valley Cats in Troy

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 24 at 1:31 p.m., Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a 39-year-old male hiker lost on Pilot Knob Mountain with his eight-year-old son and the son’s nine-year-old friend. The hikers from Ballston Spa were looking for a plane wreck on the side of the peak when they became disoriented along the maze of old roads and herd paths near Inman Pond. Coordinates placed the group just below the summit, where they were requested to remain in place until Forest Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers Michael Bodnar and Nancy Ganswindt responded and located the lost hikers at 3:45 p.m. Forest Rangers guided the group to the trailhead and were cleared of the Lake George Wild Forest at 4:50 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 24 at 3:25 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a man on the Van Hoevenberg trail on Mount Marcy reporting a member of his hiking party had a non-weight bearing ankle injury. The man stated that on the hiking group’s way down from the summit, a 27-year-old Oswego woman twisted her ankle could not continue. Upon receiving this information, Lt. Christopher Kostoss requested assistance from State Police Aviation and asked for Forest Rangers Daniel Fox and Robbi Mecus to meet State Police at the Lake Placid Airport. Using coordinates obtained through Franklin County 911, Dispatch placed the group’s location approximately one mile down the trail from the summit of Mount Marcy. At 4:41 p.m., Forest Ranger Mecus was lowered down to the hiker to evaluate the injury. The woman was loaded in a harness to be picked up by the helicopter for transfer to a local hospital.

Town of Hancock
Delaware County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 24 at 3:26 p.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a request from Delaware County 911 for Forest Ranger assistance with a high-angle, technical rope rescue at Jensen Ledges. A 10-year-old boy from New York City reportedly fell two tiers from the top of the falls while on a hike with his mother and a family friend. Hancock Fire Department established a high-angle rescue system to access the child. After rescuers reached the boy, he was provided care and was packaged for extraction. Forest Ranger Jason Seeley assisted Hancock Fire Department with raising the boy to the top of the ledges. The child was then transitioned to a UTV for transport to the trailhead approximately .5 miles away at Bouchouxville Road. At the trailhead, the boy was transported by Hancock Ambulance service to a landing zone established by Equinunk Fire Department from Pennsylvania. The boy was flown by LifeNet to a hospital in the Syracuse area for treatment. All resources were clear of the scene and back in service by 7:50 p.m.

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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