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For Release: Tuesday, September 5, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 8/28 - 9/4/17

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:

Greene County
Town of Hunter
On August 29, two men were hiking into the Kaaterskill Falls middle pool when one sustained a knee injury and could no longer walk. Four DEC Forest Rangers and rescue personnel from Haines Falls, Tannersville, Pallenville, and Hunter initiated the rescue of the 75-year-old Ancram man. Rangers stabilized the subject in a litter and carried him to the highway over the narrow and steep trail. Once at the highway, the man refused any further treatment and was released to his own care.

Hamilton County
Town of Arietta
Wildland Search:
On August 29 at 5 p.m., Hamilton County Sheriff's 911 phoned DEC Ray Brook Dispatch to report four lost but uninjured canoers on Raquette Lake. The group shared cell phone coordinates with the dispatcher, and Forest Ranger Gary Miller responded by motorboat. By 6:30 p.m., Miller found the four lost Saranac Lake men on the Marion River between Raquette and Utowana lakes. Miller transported the group back to the Raquette Lake boat launch by 7 p.m. The four were part of a multi-boat group preparing for the 90-mile canoe race planned for the weekend after Labor Day.

Hamilton County
Town of Inlet
Wildland Search:
On August 31 at 7:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Gary Miller was notified of an overdue bicyclist riding in Moose River Plains. The 58-year-old Brooklyn man was unable to keep up with his party and presumed lost or injured along the vast Moose River Plains trail system. A Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy initiated a search from the east while Ranger Miller searched from the west. At 8:15 p.m., Miller found the cyclist exhausted but uninjured and gave him a courtesy ride back to his group in Inlet.

Response to Texas:
On September 1, five DEC Forest Rangers accompanied the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) incident management team (IMT) to College Station, Texas, where the IMT will support local agencies in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Four Rangers will serve in key IMT positions with training and experience gained over decades of managing wildfires, wildland searches, rescue missions, and all-hazard response incidents. One Forest Ranger is trained, licensed, and equipped to operate a DEC unmanned aircraft system (UAS, aka drone) to provide reconnaissance to the IMT. The team is expected to spend at least 14 days on this assignment before returning to New York.

Essex County
Town of Newcomb
Wildland Search:
On September 1 at 2:45 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was advised of an overdue 56-year-old Watervliet man camping at Blue Ridge Campground. The subject had left for a hike at 6 a.m. to look for old glass bottles. By 3:15 p.m., three DEC Forest Rangers began the search of Branch River and located the man near Blue Ridge Falls. Rangers believe he became disoriented without food and water and walked downstream to Palmer Pond and then back upstream to Blue Ridge Falls. By 4:30 p.m., the subject was back at his campsite.

Essex County
Town of Wilmington
Wildland Search:
On September 1 at 6:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch was notified about two hikers lost on Marble Mountain Trail. Cell phone coordinates placed the Wilmington couple on a small feeder stream to the Ausable River. Ranger Scott van Laer called the couple and told them to follow the stream downhill for one half-mile. At that point, the subjects arrived at a private campground and were given a ride back to their vehicle by 7:45 p.m.

Putnam County
Town of Philipstown
On September 1, DEC Forest Rangers and North Highland firefighters responded to a small wildfire on Scofield Ridge near the top of Beacon Mountain. By 10:30 p.m., Rangers had contained the fire to one acre and determined it was burning in Hudson Highlands State Park. On September 2, State Park firefighters joined the Rangers to ensure the fire would not escape the control line. Rain on September 3 did not completely extinguish the fire, which was burning deep into the organic soil. Patrol of the fire continued on September 4 and 5. An investigation into whether the fire was started intentionally is ongoing.

Franklin County
Town of Brighton
Wildland Search:
On September 2 at 7:15 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a lost lone hiker attempting to climb the Saranac Lake Six, a series of mountain peaks in the area. A family member reported that she last spoke to the 40-year-old Natural Bridge resident at 11 a.m., when he said he was lost and ill on St. Regis Mountain. Five Forest Rangers responded, as well as a State Police helicopter with night vision capability. Neither the trail nor air search found any signs of the hiker. By Sunday morning, 19 Rangers searched the area. However, heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey prevented helicopter flights. As the weather cleared on Monday morning, 26 Forest Rangers were involved with the search, with efforts supported by the Paul Smiths-Gabriel Fire Department, local search volunteers, State Police, and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. At 8:40 a.m., helicopter personnel spotted a person signaling for help. A Forest Ranger was inserted to the location and helped secure the man for a lift. After hoisting him into the helicopter, the subject was flown to Saranac Lake Adirondack Medical Center, evaluated, and released.

Essex County
Town of Keene
On September 3 at 2 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was called by a group on the trail between Cascade and Porter mountains reporting a 55-year-old Johnstown woman with an ankle injury. The man was unable to walk. Group members administered basic first aid while waiting for Forest Ranger assistance. Four Forest Rangers and three Assistant Rangers responded along with Keene and Keene Valley Firefighters. The woman was secured in a rescue litter and carried to the trailhead, where she was transferred to an ambulance for hospital treatment.

Hamilton County
Town of Long Lake
On September 4 at 1:45 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Hamilton County 911 of a 33-year-old Ballston Lake woman with an ankle injury on Owls Head Mountain in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest. The woman's hiking partners attempted to help her return to their vehicles but were unable to complete the distance. Four Forest Rangers used an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to evacuate the hiker back to her vehicle. By 4:30 p.m., all were at the trailhead and the hiker was able to seek her own medical treatment.

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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