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From the June 2007 Conservationist

Rangers to the Rescue

By Lt. Chris Liebelt

Rangers to the Rescue

Runaway Gear-Franklin County
A concerned camper on the Saranac River called the Raybrook dispatch center and stated that she had seen and recovered several items (backpacks, canoe paddles, etc.) floating down the river. Forest Rangers Kevin Burns and Jeff Balerno were dispatched to investigate. When rangers arrived on the scene, they found that a group of canoeists had attempted to run a stretch of rapids. They were not outfitted correctly and were not skilled enough to handle the swift water. Four of the ten canoes capsized. Their camping equipment floated away as they attempted to get to shore. After swimming downstream, all members of the group managed to get out of the river safely and without injury. The rangers helped the group locate and retrieve some of their remaining gear and canoes. Rangers were able to find a suitable camping site for the group and built a fire to get them warm and dried out. The group warmed up and oriented themselves, and further assistance was not required.

Lucky Whistle Blower-Cayuga County
Early in the fall, while patrolling the Bear Swamp State Forest, Forest Ranger Robert Rogers heard what he thought was someone blowing a whistle. He paused and listened again and he heard several unmistakable whistle blasts coming from the woods east of his location. Thinking it might be a distress signal, Ranger Rogers followed the whistle blasts into the woods. After a short time, he located a man laying on his side in a lot of pain. The injured man was hunting in the area and had crouched down and dislocated his hip. He was prepared, however, because he carried a whistle for such emergencies and he immediately began signaling for help. Ranger Rogers contacted local emergency services for assistance. Fire departments responded with equipment and personnel to help evacuate the injured hunter. Mr. Carter was secured in a litter and carried to a waiting ambulance. He was taken to the hospital for medical care and released.

Combined Efforts-Oneida County
Early in May, Forest Ranger Robert Coscomb received an anonymous tip regarding possible marijuana growing on state land in the Sand Flats State Forest. Ranger Coscomb contacted neighboring Ranger Marty Candee for assistance in locating the marijuana patch. The tip was accurate. The rangers found the young plants and plotted their location on a map. Ranger Coscomb then contacted the Oneida County Drug Task Force. It was decided that the marijuana crop would be monitored until enough evidence was gathered to make an arrest. Forest Rangers and officers from the Utica Police Department, Oneida County Sheriff Department, Oneida County Drug Task Force, and the New Hartford Police Department surveilled the marijuana patch, collecting evidence for an eventual arrest. By mid September the team decided they had the information they needed. The plants were confiscated, arrests were made, and charges were filed against several individuals for possession of marijuana and using state land for agricultural purposes.

Back Country Tip
When headed into the woods, bring a watch and know what time it gets dark. A high percentage of search and rescue missions undertaken by New York State Forest Rangers are a result of people getting lost after dark. Many people leave too little time to get out of the woods before sunset, and cloudy days make it difficult to tell time using the sun.

Photo: art by Bob deVilleneuve