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For Release: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 1/8 - 1/14/18

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 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 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 Brasher
St. Lawrence County
On Jan. 8 at 3:09 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from the New York State Police about a vehicle stuck on a snowmobile trail. The operator, a 68-year-old Covington man, was unable to walk out to the road due to health reasons. Two Forest Rangers responded using a sport utility vehicle (SUV) to access the trail and evacuate the man. At the roadside, State Police took the man home and a tow truck retrieved his stuck vehicle from the snowmobile trail.

Ranger Air Boat at night in the snow

Village of Malone and Town of Covington
Franklin County
Ice Jam Flooding:
Recent unseasonably high temperatures caused rapid snow melt resulting in rising water and ice jams along the Salmon River. On Jan. 12, the village of Malone Mayor declared a State of Emergency due to flooding of roads and homes. Forest Rangers responded with one airboat and staged at the Franklin County 911 building. Rangers spent the morning monitoring an ice jam at the Willow Street Bridge and flooding along Patnode and Lafayette streets. Rangers also assisted Franklin County Emergency Services with evacuation planning. At approximately 1:30 p.m., the ice jam near the Willow Street Bridge broke, allowing flood waters to recede. In addition, the Fort Covington Town Supervisor declared a State of Emergency for flooding along the Salmon River. On Jan. 13, Rangers deployed their airboat and used cold weather suits to support fire departments conducting welfare checks. Over the course of the morning, Franklin County evacuated 29 residents and four dogs. The Salmon River was monitored for the next several days for new ice jams.

Town of Speculator
Hamilton County
Airboat Rescue:
On Jan. 14 at 11:15 a.m., the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department asked Forest Rangers to assist with evacuating two stranded snowmobilers on a Speculator Tree Farm easement trail. One subject became stranded after attempting to ride a trail next to the flooded Sacandaga River. Due to the hazards of this location, Rangers deployed their airboat with two Rangers, a State Trooper, one Sheriff's Deputy, and members of the D.R.A.G Snowmobile Club. The airboat was unable to get close enough to the 51-year-old East Northport man, but was able to transport him and his snowmobile back to the boat. The second snowmobiler on another portion of the trail had self-rescued, leaving his snowmobile partially submerged. Rangers used the airboat to retrieve the snowmobile and return it the operator by 1:50 p.m.

helicopter with searchlight on flying over a snowy forest

Town of Keene
Essex County
Helicopter Rescue:
On Jan. 14 at 4 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man snowboarding with a friend on Mount Marcy. While snowboarding, a 32-year-old Staten Island man sustained a puncture injury to his mouth from a stick, resulting in serious bleeding. As nightfall approached, Forest Rangers Jim Giglinto and Kevin Burns responded in a State Police helicopter. Both snowboarders made their way to a large clearing where Ranger Giglinto was lowered and the injured man was hoisted into the helicopter. The subject was flown to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. Giglinto then assisted the uninjured man back to the Adirondack Loj trailhead by 8:30 p.m.

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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