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For Release: Monday, June 4, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/28 - 6/3/18

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 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:

Town of Lexington
Greene County
Wildland Rescue:
On May 28 at 3:30 p.m., Greene County 911 received a report of an injured hiker at Diamond Notch Falls. Forest Ranger Jeff Breigle assisted Lexington EMS and Windham Ambulance to evacuate the 42-year-old New Jersey man who had several injuries from a fall while hiking. The hiker reported that after his fall, he had crawled down the trail to Diamond Notch Hill Bridge where another hiker requested assistance. By 5:30 p.m., all responders were cleared from the scene.

Town of Otto
Cattaraugus County
Wildland Search:
On May 28, two Forest Rangers assisted Gowanda Fire Department and New York State Police locate and extract three hikers unable to hike their way out of Zoar Valley Gorge. Another hiker in the group found her way to her parked car before sunset, but could not locate the other three. As darkness set in, firefighters found the lost group. By 1 a.m., the hikers and firefighters returned to their vehicles and no injuries were reported.

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wildland Search:
On May 29 just after noon, Fulton County 911 received a call from a woman lost in Ferris Lake Wild Forest. County dispatchers obtained the woman's cell phone coordinates, but lost connection without further information. Three Forest Rangers worked with Caroga Lake Firefighters and a Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy using all-terrain vehicles to access the woman's last known location. At 4 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the 33-year-old Gloversville woman, and determined she was still in the area where she first called. Searchers redirected their efforts and established voice contact with her by 5:20 p.m. By 5:50 p.m., she was transported back to her car without need of medical care.

Town of Kortright
Delaware County
Wildland Search:
At 9:15 p.m. on May 29, Delaware County 911 asked Forest Rangers to help locate a Sayville husband and wife who became lost while tracing their property boundary lines. The couple reported they were at an unknown house on an unknown road. Rangers told the couple to stay where they were and that responders would find them. Davenport and East Meredith Fire departments, Cooperstown Medical Transport Ambulance, and Delaware County Sheriff's Deputies searched several dead-end farm roads in the area. Shortly after 10 p.m., Ranger Dylan McCartney found the couple at a seasonal residence about three quarters of a mile from their residence. Responders returned the couple to their home and no injuries were reported.

Town of Guilderland
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On the afternoon of May 30, five Forest Rangers assisted Albany Pine Bush Commission fire managers to conduct a 30-acre prescribed fire. As expected, the fire continued to burn larger logs and in-ground fuels for several hours. By 11:30 a.m. the following day, the fire was out and the treatment for managing preferred vegetation was declared a success.

Town of Jay
Essex County
Wildland Search:
On May 30, the New York State Police initiated a search for a 51-year-old Nevada woman missing from a family residence in Jay. She was last seen walking nearby roads and was expected to elude first responders. Nine Forest Rangers were assigned to help find her on May 31. At 3 p.m., State Police were informed the woman was at another residence. Once it was confirmed that she was located and in good health, the search was concluded.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Wildland Rescue:
On May 31, a party of three women canoeing Bog Lake and Clear Pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch to report that one member of their group was ill and unable to continue without assistance. Within 35 minutes, Forest Ranger Robert Zurek had found the group on the canoe carry between the lake and pond. He transported the group to their vehicle to seek medical attention without need of further assistance.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 2, two Forest Rangers were notified of an injured hiker on Shelving Rock in Lake George Wild Forest. A 53-year-old Rochester woman had fallen, sustained a deep laceration to her leg, and could not self-evacuate. Within two hours of the call, Rangers and local emergency medical services had the woman at the roadside where she was treated by EMS.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Wildfire:
On June 2, a canoeist on Little Long Pond in St. Regis Canoe Area reported a small wildfire at one of the campsites. The fire was only accessible by canoe. A Forest Ranger and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) verified the report and controlled the fire to one acre. The following day, two Rangers and an AFR used backcountry fire pumps to maintain containment of the fire until further pumping or rains could extinguish it. The fire was caused by an unextinguished campfire abandoned days earlier.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Search:
On June 2 at 10 p.m., Johns Brook Lodge reported to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch that two hikers that had planned a day hike to Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback mountains were overdue. The 53-year-old father and his 10-year-old daughter from Massachusetts were last seen by other hikers at 4:30 p.m. near Basin Mountain summit in good health but behind schedule. Assistant Forest Ranger Pat Odell responded from the lodge, found the pair at 11:45 p.m., and escorted them back to Johns Brook by 2 a.m. without need of further assistance.

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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