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For Release: Monday, May 8, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 4/30 - 5/7/17

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:

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
On April 30, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call late in the day from In-Reach, an S.O.S emergency response system, requesting assistance for a subject hiking the Northville Placid Trail. The subject had become separated from her group and lost the trail. The system provided coordinates with the subject's location and contact information. Forest Ranger James Water contacted the subject and assessed the situation. The subject was properly equipped and prepared to spend the night. The following morning two Rangers mobilized, located the subject, and brought her to Long Lake, where she met up with three other members from her group.

Town of Keene
County Essex
On May 2, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a distraught woman on the Phelps Mountain trail. The subject, her 11-year-old son, and their dog were cold and worried about trail conditions. They requested to camp at high elevation in fear that descending would place them in greater danger. They were placed in phone contact with Forest Rangers and were directed to start down the trail to Marcy Dam, where Forest Rangers would meet them. Forest Rangers Joseph LaPierre and Megan McCone responded via UTV to Marcy Dam. The subjects were met by the Rangers just above the high water bridge on the Van Hovenburg trail, escorted to the UTV, and transported back to their vehicle.

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
On May 2 at 7:10 p.m., a call came into Ray Brook Dispatch from the wife of a subject who received a distress text from her husband's GPS unit. The message reported that the man and his dog were in need of help and were cold, wet, and feeling hypothermic because of the weather. GPS coordinates placed him at the intersection of the Burnt Bridge Pond Trail. At 7:24 p.m., Forest Rangers Corenne Black and Adam Baldwin were dispatched to the scene and proceeded to the subject's reported location using an ATV via the Burnt Bridge Pond Trail. The subject and his dog were successfully located and later returned to his vehicle in Wanakena.

Town of Riverhead
Suffolk County
Prescribed Fire:
On May 3, Forest Rangers led a prescribed burn at DEC's Fresh Pond Preserve, building upon what they accomplished two weeks earlier. With a mix of interagency personnel, the fire crew successfully burned 45 acres of grasslands in line with DEC goals to improve habitat for grassland nesting birds and provide forage and cover for wildlife.

Town of Philipstown
Putnam County
On May 3, a small 2.8-acre wildfire broke out along the Appalachian Trail. Forest Rangers responded and assisted local volunteer fire personnel in extinguishing the fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be the result of a careless smoker.

Town of Brighton
Franklin County
On May 4 at 4:17 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from a 23-year-old male and a 21-year-old female from Syracuse who were disoriented on St. Regis Mountain. The subjects reported that during their descent they decided to bushwhack due to unsuitable ice and mud conditions along the trail. They subsequently became disoriented and lost. Under Lt. Julie Harjung's authority, two Rangers were dispatched to search for the subjects. Coordinates obtained from their cell phone placed the subjects on St. Regis Mountain. The responding Rangers traveled the St. Regis trail to the reported coordinates. Rangers later obtained voice contact with the subjects, who were located in good condition. They were returned to the trail and escorted back to the trailhead.

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On May 4, Forest Rangers Jeffery Briegle, Dylan McCartney, David Nally, and Chris DiCintio were assigned to assist Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission staff with a prescribed fire. The 10-acre fire in predominantly scrub oak and understory brush was successfully completed and declared out by the end of the day.

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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