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For Release: Monday, May 15, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/8 - 5/14/17

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:

Suffolk County
Town of Brookhaven
Prescribed Fires: Forest Ranger Bryan Gallagher supervised two prescribed fires in the DEC Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest on May 8. The Whiskey Field Unit was successfully treated with fire over 32 acres. The unit consisted of a light grass fuel model. Operations lasted for about an hour, concluding around 12:30 p.m., and by 1:30 p.m., the fire was declared out. A second prescribed burn was conducted on May 9 on the 80-acre Currans Field Unit. This unit consisted of heavy grasses and operations were completed in about two hours and declared out by 3 p.m. Two Forest Rangers and personnel from DEC Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albany Pine Bush Commission, and DEC volunteers participated. Both burns were conducted to promote habitat for grassland birds and to provide forage and cover for native wildlife species. These were the third and fourth prescribed burns conducted on DEC lands in Suffolk County this year for a combined treatment of 191 acres.

Prescribed fires at Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest.
Prescribed fires at Rocky Point Pine
Barrens State Forest.

Essex County
Town of North Elba
Rescue: On May 10, an 18-year-old male hiker located Forest Rangers while the Rangers were doing a resupply at Lake Colden with New York State Police Aviation and requested help for a friend with an unstable knee injury. The hiker also stated that the two had been separated from a third subject. The subjects were assisted out of the woods by NYSP Aviation, and the hiker with the unstable knee injury was hoisted and flown directly to AMC Lake Placid. The missing friend made his way down to the High Peaks Information Center on his own. All subjects were from Ottawa, Canada, and were later reunited at Lake Placid AMC.

Lewis County
Town of Greig
Rescue: On May 12 at 3:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 75-year-old female from Wolcott who was injured when she and her horse fell down a hill on the Otter Creek horse trails in Independence River Wild Forest. The subject suffered unstable injuries to her extremities when the horse rolled on her. Three Forest Rangers arrived on scene at 4:10 p.m. and accessed the trails through Confusion Flats, reaching the subject at 4:41 p.m. She was packaged for transport out of the trail by UTV to an awaiting Ranger truck and driven a few miles to an ambulance. She was taken to an area hospital for treatment with the incident concluding at 6:10 p.m.

Essex County
Town of Keene
Search: On May 12 at 11:16 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call from a subject advising that his friend, a 29-year-old male from Howard Beach, was overdue from hiking Giant Mountain. The caller last spoke to the subject at 8 p.m. as he was descending down the trail that leads out through Roaring Brook Falls. Forest Ranger Scott VanLaer responded, arriving at the Giant Mountain Trailhead around 1:15 a.m. After searching the initial area for more than three hours, he requested four more Rangers to respond by way of the Lake Colden Outpost. As additional Rangers were beginning their trek, the subject called friends and reported he had made it out of the woods to State Rte. 73. A resident then drove the subject to the Noonmark Diner, where he met with the Rangers. The subject reported he lost the trail at dark, spent the night near a river, and hiked out at first light. After an interview, it is believed he mistakenly descended Giant via the North Trail near Elizabethtown. He was released to a third party and the incident concluded at 7 a.m. on May 13.

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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