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For Release: Monday, May 1, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 4/24 - 4/30/17

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 is 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:

Essex County
Town of Saranac Lake
Memorial Service:
April 30 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of Forest Ranger James Ahern, the first Ranger to die in the line of duty. His death in 1917 was a result of injuries received from a fall from a ledge while inspecting boundary lines near Ray Brook. Forest Rangers, including the Forest Ranger Color Guard, family, and others honored his memory in a Memorial Service at Saranac Lake.

Monroe County
Town of Rush
Prescribed Fire:
On April 26 and 27, DEC conducted a 50-acre prescribed burn at Rush Oak Openings Unique Area. DEC Forest Rangers, staff from divisions of Lands and Forests and Fish and Wildlife, and Fire Wardens worked with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct the burn. The first day's burning operations focused on the eastern portion of the property near the Five Points gate called the Sand Knoll area. The large fields were treated on the second day of burning. The primary purpose of the prescribed burn was to maintain the open character of the land and inhibit the growth of woody stemmed species. In addition to filling required positions on the fire management team, additional positions were filled with trainees working toward certification. An Excelsior Corps crew was integrated into the operations to complete the field exercise portions of their Wildland Fire Suppression courses.

Essex County
Town of North Elba
On April 29 at 4:38 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Essex County 911 from a woman stating that she and her four-year-old son were lost on Haystack Mountain. Essex County 911 provided coordinates of her location, which was in the vicinity of the trail. One Forest Ranger responded, made cell phone contact with the subject, and was able to get the family headed in the right direction. The Ranger hiked up the trail, found the two hikers, and assisted them to the trailhead.

Madison County
Town of Brookfield
On April 29, an anonymous caller reported a number of vehicles driving into the Charles E. Baker State Forest on Quaker Hill Road in the vicinity of a known party area. Forest Rangers were dispatched, coordinated with local police, and located a large party in a quarry. A Ranger reported that a number of the partygoers departed upon the arrival of police and those remaining were cooperative. Many of the subjects were from area colleges. Rangers directed the partygoers to clean the area of litter and a large fire was extinguished. Charges are pending.

Chenango County
Town of Norwich
On April 29 at about 5 p.m., Forest Rangers were notified by Chenango County Sheriff's Dispatch of a missing 12-year-old male in Whaupaunaucau State Forest. Rangers responded to the area and requested additional resources. Shortly after establishing command and coordinating search efforts, the subject walked out of the woods east of the Post Road command post near trail No. 5. The boy was shaken up but uninjured and was released to his parents.

Onondaga County
Town of Lysander
On April 29 at about 5:47 p.m., Forest Rangers were notified by Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Don Damrath of an attempt to locate a suicidal subject in Labrador Hollow Unique Area on the border of Onondaga and Cortland counties. Forest Rangers responded and contacted Onondaga County 911 for additional details. ECO Damrath responded, as well. Ranger Scott Jackson made contact with an Onondaga Sherriff's Deputy who stated that the subject was believed to be at the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. At 6:55 p.m., Onondaga County 911 advised that the subject had been located in good condition. All DEC resources were released.

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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