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For Release: Tuesday, April 21, 2020

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Recent Forest Ranger Actions

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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.

"DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York's wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The state's brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service."

Town of Keeseville
Essex County
Protecting Peregrines:
On April 11, Forest Ranger Sarah Bode cited two rock climbers for Failure to Obey a DEC sign. The tickets were written to a 31-year-old man from Bernardsville, New Jersey, and a 32-year-old woman from New York City for climbing closed routes on Poke O Moonshine. DEC wildlife staff closes certain cliffs and climbing routes to allow peregrine falcons to breed, select a nesting site, and encourage the birds to return to their nesting sites. Once nesting has begun, DEC wildlife staff work with Forest Rangers and other DEC programs in notifying the climbing community and public of these closures and may open climbing routes that can be used without disturbing the nesting falcons and their young. After the young falcons have fledged, climbing routes are opened. The rock climbing community has been cooperative with DEC's efforts and climbers have volunteered to be observers, monitoring falcons and nesting activity. DEC last issued tickets to climbers for climbing on the closed routes in the early 2000s, and Forest Rangers continue to patrol and enforce these routes.

Rocky face of a mountain
View of Poke O Moonshine

Town of Hadley
Saratoga County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 19 at 8:51 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting two lost men on Hadley Mountain. The coordinates provided by 911 placed the hikers about one-half-mile off the trail. The 28-year-old and 24-year-old from Saratoga and Glenville did not have equipment other than their cell phones. Forest Rangers Joe Hess and Tony Goetke responded to their location. At 10:20 p.m., Ranger Hess started in from the trailhead and was able to make verbal contact with the hikers. Once located, Ranger Hess escorted the pair back to the trail and out to the parking lot. The hikers declined further assistance and Rangers cleared the scene.

Statewide
New York State COVID-19 Response:
DEC personnel from across agency divisions and regions statewide continue to support the State's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Personnel from more than 20 New York State agencies are working on response efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. DEC Forest Rangers' expertise in the Incident Command System (ICS) and experience in applying ICS to wide area searches and large wildland fire have made them a key part of this statewide effort.

Several DEC Forest Rangers are part of the New York State Incident Management Team, or IMT, an interagency team comprised of personnel from various state, county, and local agencies who represent a variety of disciplines. The IMT assists Incident Command personnel and emergency managers in ensuring a prompt, efficient, and organized response to complex incidents.

Forest Rangers stands on a table and helps hang an America Flag on the side of a white tent.
Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl (red jacket) hangs American Flag at Albany COVID-19 testing facility
(Photo courtesy of New York State Department of Health)

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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