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For Release: Monday, January 29, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 1/22 - 1/28/18

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 Roxbury
Delaware County
On Jan. 21 at around 8:20 a.m., the New York State Police contacted DEC's Central Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance in a search for a missing 22-year-old male last seen leaving a residence on Ferris Farm Road around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 20. A command post was established at the Roxbury Fire Department, and for two days 11 Forest Rangers organized personnel and resources into crews and searched around the residence. Ten Delaware County volunteer fire departments, State Police, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), several police K-9 units, State Police helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) participated in the search. Searchers redirected efforts along Rt. 23 after receiving a report that the subject had been spotted in that area on Monday. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the subject was located deceased in the Bear Kill Creek by a local constable searching the area. State Police are investigating the cause of death.

Ice-Jam Flooding:
Warm temperatures during the weekend of Jan. 20 and 21, resulted in the formation of ice jams in many of New York's rivers. Combined with melting snow and rain, the ice jams caused potential for significant flooding to areas along the Mohawk River, upper Hudson River, North Country and Southern Tier. With nearly 50 ice jams threatening communities statewide, Forest Rangers staged crews across the state in order to provide rapid response to missions in the event flooding conditions developed. Forest Ranger air boat crews were staged Monday through Wednesday at Sherburne (Cortland County), Lowville (Lewis County), Northville (Fulton County), and Northville (Warren County). In addition, Forest Rangers flew drones throughout the week to provide analysis of ice jam conditions to the State Office of Emergency Management and other state agencies monitoring conditions.

Forest Ranger vehicles on standby
DEC Forest Ranger equipment on standby in Lewis County

Town of Hunter
Greene County
On Jan. 26 at approximately 3 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch was notified by Greene County 911 of an injured hiker on Sugarloaf Mountain in the town of Hunter. After making contact with the subject, Forest Rangers determined that the hiker and a companion were on the west side of Sugarloaf on the Devil's Path at around 2,850 feet in elevation. The caller reported that his friend had injured his ankle after sliding on the icy trail. The subject attempted to hike briefly, but was unable to continue. The hikers stated they were well equipped for the weather with winter camping gear and would be able to stay warm until Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers and emergency personnel responded to Mink Hollow Road trailhead. The Rangers and a Haines Falls volunteer firefighter hiked in to the subjects, reaching the injured hiker at about 5:20 p.m. Ranger Dawson administered wilderness first aid and splinted the injured left ankle. Trail conditions were extremely icy due to the recent freezing. Tannersville Fire Department staff staged an off-road utility vehicle at Mink Hollow notch. The patient was assisted down Sugarloaf to the UTV and transported out to the trailhead at 7:40 p.m. The subject was transported by his friend to Kingston Hospital for further treatment. Interviews with the subject determined that, although the subject was hiking with microspikes, he had lost grip on an ice flow and slid into a boulder, resulting in the injury.

Town of Elizabethtown
Essex County
On Jan. 27 at 3:55 p.m., Forest Rangers were requested to respond to a rescue call on Giant Mountain. A 20-year-old female hiker had sustained an ankle injury while hiking down the Ridge Trail, about a mile and a half from the trailhead. The recent warm weather followed by freezing temperatures caused the trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness to become icy and difficult to navigate. Forest Ranger Robbie Mecus was dispatched to the scene to evaluate the injury. After assessing the subject, it was determined that the injury could not sustain any weight, requiring her to be carried out in a litter. Six additional Forest Rangers were dispatched to the trail to assist with the carry-out. Keene Valley Ambulance was requested to assist with medical treatment at the trailhead. By 8:55 p.m., all subjects and personnel were back to the trailhead. The subject was transported by ambulance to the Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical treatment.

Town of Thurman
Warren County
On Jan. 27 at 5:10 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by State Police in Warren County about hikers that required help on Crane Mountain. The 27-year-old female caller had sustained a shoulder injury while descending Crane Mountain via the Crane Mountain Pond Trail. The hiking party attempted to continue, but the shoulder injury did not allow the injured hiker to support herself on the steep and icy terrain. The subjects attempted to navigate down the mountain off the icy trail, but became stuck upon reaching an area of steep cliffs a little more than a mile from the trailhead. Coordinates from their phone helped Forest Rangers locate the subjects, where it was determined high angle rope rescue systems would be required to lower the injured hiker safely down from the cliffs. Four Forest Rangers were dispatched as freezing rain coated roadways and hampered response efforts. By 12:40 a.m., both subjects had been lowered from the cliff and transported to the trailhead by snowmobile. Johnsburg EMS assessed the pair and all Forest Rangers were back in service by 4 a.m.

Town of Bovina
Delaware County
On Jan. 27 at approximately 4 p.m., a 73-year-old male was seen walking with his dog in the fields on his property on Meyer Road in the town of Bovina. At 6 p.m., friends of the subject called Delaware County 911 to report him missing when he failed to return home. The subject was last seen wearing a green jacket, jeans, and hiking boots. Rangers were requested to assist with the search efforts through Delaware County 911. Two Forest Rangers responded to help organize personnel from State Police and the Delaware County Sheriff's Department. The subject was located around 8:15 p.m., in good health by an individual driving along County Highway 6 near New Road, approximately one mile from the subject's residence. The man was assessed by Bovina EMS personnel and released.

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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