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For Release: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 2/11 - 2/18/19

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 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 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 Greenfield
Saratoga County
Wildland Search:
On Feb. 11 at 5:21 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance in locating an overdue 77-year-old male from Middle Grove who was last seen at a local eatery in Saratoga Springs that morning. His family became concerned and called Saratoga Springs Police Department when they hadn't heard from him by evening. The subject's phone was triangulated to a vehicle belonging to the subject at the intersection of Lake Desolation Road and Plank Road in Greenfield - an area the subject was known to hike - but his phone was left in the vehicle. Due to a winter storm forecasted to hit, eight Forest Rangers quickly responded to organize a search operation of the Lake Desolation State Forest and the Mullyville snowmobile trail system. Personnel from other responding agencies included Saratoga Springs PD, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Greenfield Fire Department, and Community Emergency Core. A six-wheel UTV from the Greenfield Fire Department carried searchers with hand-held heat imaging cameras. Forest Rangers and the Saratoga County Sheriff's Tactical Team created teams to foot sweep trails to see where the subject may have gone off-trail. Crews also checked Lake Desolation Road on foot in both directions from where the subject's vehicle was parked. At 10:39 p.m., the man was found deceased by one of the search teams on private property and Forest Rangers assisted with recovery efforts.

Town of Santa Clara
Franklin County
Wildland Search:
On Feb. 12 at 9:18 a.m., New York State Police in Malone contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance with mapping the cell phone coordinates for a missing 61-year-old despondent female from Brushton. The phone coordinates pointed to the Debar Mountain Wild Forest and Ranger Scott Sabo and a State Trooper snowshoed in to reach the location. Other police units in the area were on the lookout for the missing person's vehicle. At 11:18 a.m., Ranger Thomas Gliddi overheard State Police radio traffic that the missing person and her vehicle had been located at a DOT pull-off on State Rt. 458, approximately 11.5 miles away from the cell phone coordinates. Ranger Gliddi diverted to that location, where two Troopers were attempting to treat the woman who was showing signs of severe hypothermia. On scene, Ranger Gliddi initiated rescue breathing via bag valve mask and Ranger Sabo arrived on scene with oxygen and heating blankets. The subject was turned over to St. Regis Falls EMS until State Police Aviation arrived with North Country Life Flight and Ranger Kevin Burns on board. The subject was flown to AMC-Saranac Lake for further care, and all units were clear of the scene by 12:16 p.m.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Snowmobile Fatality:
On Feb. 16 at 11:18 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call from an individual who had been snowmobiling with a friend who had gone off the trail and fell through the ice at Long Lake. The subject was near Steam Boat Landing on the south side of the lake. Forest Rangers Jay Scott and Jim Waters responded and requested the Ranger airboat from Northville. ECO Keith Kelly and New York State Police responded as well. At 12:20 a.m., Rangers reported the subject was located in the ice in the adjoining Raquette River and was deceased. With assistance from Long Lake Fire Department and EMS personnel, Forest Ranger Scott entered the icy waters and extracted the snowmobiler from the water and turned him over to the Hamilton County Medical Examiner. State Police are continuing to investigate.

High Peaks Wilderness
Preventative Search and Rescue Initiative:
Region 5 Forest Rangers piloted a preventative Search and Rescue initiative during the President's Day holiday weekend in the High Peaks Wilderness. Staff from Adirondack Mountain Club and volunteers from Keene-Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue partnered in the effort to directly interact with hikers entering the backcountry. Forest Rangers, ADK staff, and volunteers were stationed at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, Adirondak Loj Trailhead, the High Peaks Information Center, and on other trails in the area where they queried hikers about their destination, gear, equipment and clothing. They also provided information and displays to demonstrate the proper gear, equipment, and clothing necessary to help ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. Statistics from Cascade Mountain show that more than 100 hikers were encountered each day on Saturday and Sunday. Approximately 40 percent were unprepared because of improper clothing or footwear. The overall goal of this effort is to decrease the number of unprepared hikers and the number of search and rescue incidents. Forest Rangers and other participants will meet to evaluate the pilot initiative and use the information to determine how best to implement the initiative in the coming year.

View looking out from inside outreach tent with table that has informational pamphlets on it as a Forest Ranger walks by towards a hiker
Snowy terrain with cross country skiiers on left and right with their attention turned to Forest Ranger.
Forest Rangers speak with hikers during
Adirondack outreach effort

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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