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For Release: Monday, September 17, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 9/10 - 9/16/18

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 Colchester
Delaware County
Attempt to Locate:
On Sept. 10, Delaware County 911 was notified that a 60-year-old Kingston man hiking alone from the Finger Lakes to the Catskill Mountains failed to make family contacts as part of his hiking itinerary. Subsequently, Rangers Seeley and Oldroyd checked trail register boxes along the border of Chenango and Delaware counties. Delaware County 911 provided coordinates of the hiker's cell phone that placed him near Masonville. Ranger McCartney checked businesses in Downsville and trail registers in the Delaware Wild Forest without success. The concerned caller provided an alias that the man could potentially use, and Rangers found evidence that the hiker had traveled through the area. Later that evening, Rangers located him in good health at a lean-to along the trail. He explained that he couldn't get cell service in the area. By 9 p.m., family members were notified that he was well and continuing his hike as planned.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 12, a pair of hikers on Mount Marshall reported to Essex County 911 that one of them, a 69-year-old New Hampshire woman, had sustained a serious leg injury. The dispatcher told the pair to stay put until a Ranger arrived. Although dense clouds delayed access to the mountain, a Forest Ranger was lowered from a New York State Police helicopter to the site of the injured hiker during a break in the weather. The woman was hoisted into the helicopter and transported to Adirondack Medical Center for treatment within two and a half hours of the initial call. The lowered Ranger escorted the injured hiker's companion to the Lake Colden Interior Cabin and the pair hiked out the next morning.

Town of Inlet
Hamilton County
Wilderness Assistance:
On Sept. 14, a 28-year-old Oswego woman reported to Hamilton County 911 that she was lost along the Black Bear Trail in Moose River Wild Forest. As two Forest Rangers responded to the hiker's cell phone coordinates, one gave her directions by phone to a familiar location. Within 90 minutes, Rangers found the woman, and an hour later she was back at her car without need of further assistance.

Town of Oriskany
Oneida County
Swift Water/Flood Rescue Training:
Several Forest Rangers attended the Office of Fire Prevention and Control's (OFPC) Swift Water/Flood Rescue Technician Course last week at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC) in Oriskany. Two Forest Rangers, both certified instructors with the American Canoe Association, assisted with the instruction of swiftwater rescue techniques. These techniques can be applied in backcountry rescues and greatly enhance student preparedness for flood events. This intensive, hands-on course provides trainees with skills in self-rescue techniques and rescuing subjects in swift water and flooded environments utilizing a vast array of equipment. Forest Rangers respond to many water rescues each year throughout the State, and assist local emergency services when people find themselves in trouble.

DEC Forest Rangers Training at the new Office of Fire Prevention and Control Swift Water Training Facility DEC Forest Rangers Training at the new Office of Fire Prevention and Control Swift Water Training Facility DEC Forest Rangers Training at the new Office of Fire Prevention and Control Swift Water Training Facility
DEC Forest Rangers Training at the new Office of Fire Prevention and Control Swift Water Training Facility

Town of Middletown
Delaware County
Wildland Rescue:
On Sept. 14, a husband and wife from New Jersey were hiking the Huckleberry Loop Train in Dry Brook Ridge Wild Forest when the woman fell and injured her ankle. Four Forest Rangers along with firefighters from Margaretville and Arena, State Police, and local emergency medical services stabilized the injury and carried the woman to a waiting ambulance for further medical care.

First Responders Help Carry Injured Woman out of the Woods
First Responders Help Carry Injured Woman out of the Woods

Green County
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue:
At 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, the State Police were notified about an overdue hiker on Devil's Pass near Devil's Tombstone Campground. Two Forest Rangers subsequently found the hiker's backpack along the trail one-half mile from the trailhead parking lot. Shortly thereafter, the Rangers found the 53-year-old Greenport man with an ankle injury that prevented him from self-rescuing. Rangers applied a splint to the man's lower leg, allowing him to walk with assistance. By 9 a.m., the injured hiker was back at his car and able to drive home.

A DEC Forest Ranger applies splint to injured man’s leg
A DEC Forest Ranger applies splint to injured man's leg

Town of Beacon
Dutchess County
Lost Hikers:
At 9 p.m. on Sept. 16, Dutchess County 911 requested Forest Rangers to help four female hikers on Mount Beacon. The hikers were unable to find their way back to their camp. Without food, water, or flashlights, and cell phones close to losing all power, the group was instructed to stay at their current location and wait for Rangers to arrive. Based on the group's cell phone coordinates, Rangers quickly found the group by 12:30 a.m., and escorted them back to their camp by 3 a.m., without injury or additional 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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