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For Release: Monday, October 23, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 10/12 - 10/22/17

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:

Richmond County
Clove Lakes
Electrofishing Survey:
On Oct. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m., Forest Ranger John Franceschina and Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Michael Hameline assisted Region 2 Fisheries staff with an electrofishing survey of Clove Lakes in Staten Island. The officers netted fish from the boat and assisted with the weighing and measuring of each fish caught. These surveys help to monitor ecological health and relative abundance of local fish populations. Before joining DEC, Ranger Franceschina worked as a fisheries observer for five years in Alaska.

Franklin County
Town of Harrietstown
On Oct. 20 at 8:39 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request from New York State Police to locate a 66-year-old man from Keeseville who was three days overdue from hunting in the Western High Peaks Wilderness Area. The hunter was last seen on Oct. 17, in the morning hours at a campsite off Coreys Road in the town of Harrietstown. Forest Rangers responded, interviewed the reporting party, and began an immediate search of the area the hunter was known to frequent during the day. Plans were developed for additional search tactics. Volunteers from Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) and the NYS Federation of Search and Rescue assisted in the search. NYSP Aviation conducted additional infrared flights after dark. Containment and listening post search tactics were used overnight. On Oct. 21, shortly before 8 a.m., the hunter was located near a trail on the west side of Ampersand Brook by one of the search crews and SARNAK volunteers. He was cold, hungry and had been lost since Oct. 17. He walked back to the Command Post where he was evaluated by the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad and interviewed by Rangers. The incident concluded at 10:30 a.m.

Hamilton County
Town of Indian Lake
On Oct. 21 at 12:53 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request to locate a 20-year-old man from Indian Lake who had become separated from his hunting party. The hunter was last seen at 9 a.m. The group was hunting the outlying areas along the Northville Placid Trail. Forest Rangers arrived in the general area at 1:15 p.m., and initiated a search. At 2:40 p.m., voice contact was made with the subject. He was located shortly after in good condition, escorted to the trailhead, and reunited with members of his hunting party. The incident concluded at 4 p.m.

Essex County
Town of North Elba
On Oct. 21 at 12:32 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a Forest Ranger about an injured man near Scott's Clearing in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Three Rangers responded with NYSP Aviation. Two Rangers were inserted by helicopter at Scott's Clearing. The Rangers hiked down to the subject, evaluated him, and stabilized his injuries. The subject was then assisted uphill and hoisted into the helicopter. By 3:28 p.m., the hiker was transported to Adirondack Medical Center-Lake Placid via helicopter for further medical care.

Essex County
Town of Keene
On Oct. 21 at 7:41 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 regarding four women lost near Giant Washbowl along the Roaring Brook Falls trail in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area. The women stated they had become separated from two of their friends. Essex County provided cell phone coordinates that placed the subjects on the trail. Ray Brook Dispatch contacted the two friends and found that they were safe and out of the woods. A Forest Ranger responded and made voice contact with the lost group at 9:20 p.m. The Ranger led the group back to the trailhead, where they were reunited with the remaining members of the hiking party. The incident concluded at 10:51 p.m.

Saratoga County
Town of Greenfield
On Oct. 21 at 11:08 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a Saratoga County Sherriff Investigator requesting Forest Ranger assistance to find a 12-year-old girl in the town of Greenfield. The girl was last seen at approximately 4:45 p.m. Forest Rangers responded and began searching the immediate area. Saratoga Sheriff's Investigators gathered information to help the search effort. NYSP, Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue volunteers, and local volunteer fire departments joined the search effort. By mid-morning on Oct. 22, a NYSP Trooper patrolling the area was notified that the girl was nearby. The Trooper observed the girl enter a swampy wooded area. Search efforts were focused on that area and Forest Ranger John Ploss located the subject at noon. The girl was reunited with her family and received medical attention from a local ambulance service.

Wildland Fires:
During the past week, Forest Rangers responded to and extinguished a number of wildland fires caused by unattended campfires and fires resulting from debris burning. Forest Rangers want to remind the public that campfires need to be completely extinguished each night by flooding them with water, stirring completely, checking for heat, and repeating until the area of the campfire is cold. Forest Rangers caution the public that fall fires can sometimes start easily and travel rapidly in dry leaves. Recent warm weather and lack of rain has also dried the ground enough for fire to burn into the ground.

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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