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For Release: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 10/14/19 - 10/20/19

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 Harmony
Chautauqua County
Missing Person Search:
On Oct. 13 at 9 p.m., the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office contacted Forest Ranger Nathan Sprague reporting a missing 74-year-old woman from North Harmony. The caller stated his wife walked away from their home sometime in the evening while he was away. Over the course of four days, 21 Forest Rangers, Chautauqua County Sheriff Deputies and Dive Team, New York State Police Aviation and K9s, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) personnel, and 436 volunteers from the community and 21 local volunteer fire departments searched for the missing woman. Forest Rangers had given DOCCS crew members the Basic Wildland Search Skills course earlier this month. On the evening of Oct. 16, a search crew led by Forest Ranger John Kennedy located the woman deceased approximately 1.2 miles from her home.

Forest Ranger vehicle in a field with search teams dressed in orange getting ready to search for a missing person
Forest rangers and search teams gather in Chautauqua County for missing persons search

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue
: On Oct. 14 at 3:25 p.m., Forest Ranger Matthew Savarie overheard radio traffic from Herkimer County regarding a lost female hiker near Grass Pond in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Area. Forest Rangers Savarie and Scott Jackson responded to the trailheads near Okara Lakes to search for the hiker. At 4:57 p.m., Forest Ranger Savarie and two officers from the Webb Police Department located the 50-year-old hiker from Old Forge. She had been trying to reach Middle Settlement Lake and found herself on the east side of Grass Pond. The hiker returned to her camp by 5:38 p.m., and search staff were cleared of the scene.

Town of Blenheim
Schoharie County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 14 at 5:57 p.m., Schoharie County 911 contacted DEC's Central Dispatch to report a lost hiker at the Mine Kill State Park. Forest Rangers Joseph Bink and Dylan McCartney responded, along with resources from Schoharie Emergency Services. Using specialized search techniques, one of the responding Forest Rangers and a member of the Schoharie County Search and Rescue team located the hiker at 7:48 p.m. They escorted the 40-year-old female hiker from Maryland, New York, back to the trailhead and all search staff cleared the scene.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 19 at 10:28 a.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a hiker on the Henry's Woods Trail reporting that her mother, a 61-year-old female from Hamilton, Ontario, had possibly broken her ankle. Coordinates placed the hikers on the main loop trail about one mile in from the trailhead. Forest Rangers Daniel Fox and Robbi Mecus located the hiker and brought the woman out using an UTV. At 11:58 a.m., the hikers were out of the woods and advised they would seek further medical attention on their own.

Town of Brighton
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 20 at 3:14 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker on St. Regis Mountain reporting an injured hiker. The injured 18-year-old male from Alfred Station, New York, was less than a mile from the St. Regis summit with an unstable lower leg injury. The hiker reported that he had tripped over tree roots and heard a snap in his ankle. Six Forest Rangers responded and were assisted by members of Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) and the Paul Smiths - Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department. Due to steep terrain and the length of the trail, a nearby camp agreed to give rescuers access to their property to reach the injured hiker's location and evacuate him via an old fire road. The first Ranger reached the injured hiker at 6:20 p.m. Upon assessment of the injury, the subject's leg was splinted, and the hiker was packaged into a litter and carried down with backpack carriers. Once off the steep slope, the litter was attached to a wheel and brought back via the access road. The hiker was then transported via Ranger vehicle off private property to the trailhead at 7:54 p.m. Saranac Lake Rescue transported the subject to a local hospital.

Forest Rangers carrying an injured hiker on a dark trail lit by their headlamps.
Forest Rangers transport injured hiker off St. Regis Mountain

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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