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For Release: Monday, October 30, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 10/23 - 10/29/17

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 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's 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 are 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:

Livingston County
Town of Leicester
On Oct. 24 at 7:40 p.m. Lt. Tim Flanagan received a request from the Livingston County Sheriff's Department for assistance in locating a 21-year-old female who had run away from her residence in Leicester. The subject had a history of running away from home. Over the course of the next three days, 15 Forest Rangers set up an incident command structure to organize search efforts involving more than 150 personnel, including DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and DEC K-9 units, Livingston County Sheriff's Department, numerous area fire departments, State Police, NY Federation of Search and Rescue, and community volunteers. Operations included utilizing ground crews and NY State Police Aviation, boats, and K-9 units. Livingston County Sheriff's and State Police investigators conducted an intensive investigation involving door-to-door interviews and issuing a Missing Vulnerable Alert. Crews searched wooded areas outward from the residence, with unsuccessful results. At 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 26, the subject returned to the residence, at which time the family notified authorities.

Morning briefing at the search command post
Morning briefing at the search command post
Volunteers help search the woods for a missing woman
Volunteers help search the woods for a missing woman

Essex County
Town of Wilmington
On Oct. 28 at 12:26 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a 50-year-old male with a severe lower leg injury. The subject described himself to be three-quarters of a mile from the Hardy Road Trailhead in Wilmington. Three Forest Rangers with an ATV responded to the Hardy Road Trailhead, along with Wilmington Fire and Rescue personnel, and met up with one of the reporting party members. Rangers and rescue squad personnel reached the subject at 1 p.m. and administered basic first aid. The subject was transported by ATV to the trailhead, transferred to a Wilmington Ambulance, and then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid for treatment.

Forest Rangers and Wilmington Fire/Rescue personnel
Forest Rangers and Wilmington Fire/Rescue personnel

Suffolk County
Town of Brookhaven
New York Wildfire Incident Management Academy:
Oct. 19 to 29, 2017 marked the 20th year of the New York Wildfire & Incident Management Academy held annually at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Lab in Upton. Around 30 Forest Rangers participated in this year's Academy as students, course instructors and in coordination roles. The Academy was founded as a result of the large wildfires that occurred on Long Island in 1995. Its mission has been to provide training for firefighters, first responders, and responsible agency personnel to aid in improving wildland firefighter safety, preparedness, prevention and response. Courses in Incident Command and wildland fire fighting provide training that prepare emergency personnel to handle the many all-hazard incidents and events that have occurred in recent years. Since its founding, more than 7,000 students have been trained from 36 States, Canada, and several international nations. It is the only major academy of its kind in the northeastern United States. A ceremony was held commemorating the 20th year of the Academy. The Forest Ranger Division, along with several individual members, received awards recognizing their dedication and contributions.

Essex County
Town of Keene
On Oct. 28 at 5:12 p.m. DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker at the Adirondack Loj who had become separated from his father while hiking Rocky Falls in the High Peaks Wilderness. Three Forest Rangers responded to begin a search for the 64-year-old hiker. During the hike to the Rocky Falls lean-to, the subject slipped and got both feet wet while crossing Indian Pass Brook and decided to head back out early on his own. After re-crossing Indian Pass Brook, he made a wrong turn and started following the herd path along the south side of the brook rather than the marked foot trail back to the Adirondack Loj, where they were camping. The father continued toward Street and Nye Mountains, and decided to wait there for rescue. At 7:56 p.m., a Forest Ranger located the subject in good condition and escorted him back to the trailhead to be reunited with his son.

Hamilton County
Town of Morehouse
On Oct. 28 at 6:25 p.m. DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance in regards to a missing hunter in Hoffmeister, town of Morehouse, off Alderbend Road. The 30-year-old male left unprepared for an evening in the woods. Three Rangers responded and searched the area with assistance with Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Hamilton County Sheriff's units until midnight with no success. Sixteen Forest Rangers responded to continue search efforts the next morning. On Oct. 29 at 7:30 a.m. two Forest Rangers located the subject on the edge of a wetland, approximately 0.8 miles from his camp and in good health. He had sheltered for the night next to a tree after dark and slept during search efforts. He was walked back to his camp when located by Rangers and declined further care.

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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