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For Release: Monday, March 20, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 3/14 - 3/18/17

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 2016, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 356 search and rescue missions, extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 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."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Winter Storm Stella:

More than 80 Forest Rangers were assigned across the state to address potential searches, rescues, or calls associated with Winter Storm Stella on March 14 and 15. Twelve to 40 inches of snow were reported throughout Upstate New York. Rangers conducted several wellness checks of backpackers in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains where individuals were concerned for the safety of their family members. Two Rangers assisted the Lyon Mountain Fire Department in evacuating two snowmobilers that became stranded on Lyon Mountain. The 15- and 17-year-old Clinton County youths used their cell phones to ask for help when their snowmobiles became disabled, and Rangers and fire rescue personnel located the two in blizzard conditions and assisted them out uninjured.

Forest ranger sign buried in snow.

Warren County
Town of Lake Luzerne
Assist to State Police: On March 15, three Forest Rangers assisted the New York State Police with locating a 23-year-old Lake Luzerne man reported to be despondent in the woods with a knife. Since the incident was at the end of a snowstorm that brought 24 inches of fresh snow to the area, Rangers were needed to track the man. Shortly after initiating the search, the man was found alive and well.

Franklin County
Town of Tupper Lake
Rescue: On March 15, five Forest Rangers rescued a 39-year-old Massachusetts man hiking the trails to Seymour and Seward mountains. The man reported he was dehydrated and unable to self-rescue. Within six hours, Rangers used snowmobiles to access the remote area and bring the man out without further illness or injury.

Forest rangers with snowmobiles.

Town of Johnsburg
Warren County
Search: Gore Mountain Ski Patrol asked Rangers to help locate two teenagers that had skied off the trail system. Four Rangers conducted a search by snowshoe and snowmobile and determined the teenagers had returned to the ski center trails and were no longer in need of assistance.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Rescue and Arrest: On March 18, off-duty Forest Ranger Megan McCone witnessed a snowmobile roll over while being operated on a town road near Lake Placid. McCone confronted the operator, who was injured, but the man fled the scene. She followed the operator to his residence, where Ranger Joe LaPierre apprehended the 40-year-old Lake Placid man, who appeared intoxicated. The man was arrested and refused to submit to a breath screening before being transported to the local hospital. He will be charged with operating a snowmobile while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and refusing to submit to a chemical test, a violation.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Search: On March 19, two men backcountry skiing on Mount Colden's Couloir Slide became disoriented and called 911 for help. The call was transferred to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch with the cell phone GPS location. Due to the accuracy of the GPS location, the dispatcher was able to tell the skiers how to get back on the trail. Within 30 minutes, the two reported they were back on the trail and no longer in need of assistance.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety web page and Adirondack Backcountry Information web page for more information.

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