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For Release: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 3/25 - 3/31/19

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 Corning
Steuben County
: On March 26 at 4:48 p.m., Forest Rangers were contacted by the Steuben County Deputy Fire Coordinator to respond to a wildland fire. When a Ranger arrived on scene, local volunteer fire departments had established a fire line around the blaze and quickly put down the fire. Two days later, Rangers returned to investigate the cause of the fire and locate the origin. This investigation is ongoing.

Town of Cincinnatus
Cortland County
On March 26, DEC Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) responded to a reported wildfire on farmland in the town of Cincinnatus. The fire burned 1.3 acres of light grass before the Cincinnatus Fire Department and other local fire departments contained the blaze. Two Rangers responded, completed fire suppression, and declared the fire out approximately three hours after the initial report. ECOs investigated and determined that the landowner had ignited bags of household waste in a burn pit and left the fire unattended. The blaze spread and the landowner was ticketed for several offenses.

DEC reminds residents that a statewide burn ban remains in effect through May 14. With warmer temperatures approaching, conditions for wildfires are increasing. Not only does opening burning raise the risk of sparking wildfires, but residents can incur tickets and fines. For more information on open burning in New York visit DEC's website.

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On March 28, DEC Forest Rangers, staff from the Albany Pine Bush, and multiple volunteer fire departments conducted a prescribed burn at the Albany Pine Bush. The burn was conducted in a grass field near the intersection of Washington Avenue and County Rt. 155 in an area known as Blueberry Hill. The nine-acre burn will increase openings for warm season grasses, forbs, and wild blue lupine and reduce the invasion of woody shrub. This management technique will improve habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly in the Albany Pine Bush.

Large brush fire in a field with Forest Rangers and emergency response nearby.
Forest Rangers conduct prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Arkwright
Chautauqua County
On March 28 at 4:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Nathan Sprague and Zachary Robitaille were notified by County Dispatch of a field fire in the town of Arkwright. When the Rangers arrived, Cassadaga Fire Department personnel were finishing the mop-up of the fire. The homeowner had started a brush pile fire and the flames spread to an adjacent field, burning approximately 1/2 an acre. After Rangers interviewed the homeowner, he admitted to starting the fire to burn papers. Ranger Sprague issued a ticket for illegal burning during the burning ban.

Town of Windham
Greene County
On March 30 at approximately 10:15 a.m., Ranger Katherine Fox was contacted by DEC Central Dispatch regarding a 56-year-old male who suffered a leg injury on the Escarpment Trail leading to Windham High Peak in the Windham Blackhead Wilderness Area. Eleven Rangers responded along with personnel from Hensonville Fire Department, Windham Police Department, and Windham Ambulance. Rangers reached the subject by approximately 12:15 p.m. After administering first aid, Rangers packaged the subject into a Stokes basket and, with the help of fire department volunteers, carried him down to a UTV staged at the Elm Ridge lean-to. The subject was transported to the trailhead, where he was transferred to an ambulance and taken to a local hospital for further care. All Rangers were clear of the scene at 6 p.m.

Forest Rangers and emergency response staff carrying a man down a rocky path in the woods
DEC Forest Rangers and fire department carry
injured man off trail on Windham High Peak

Town of Fort Anne
Washington County
On March 30 at 4:15 p.m. three Forest Rangers responded to a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 47-year-old female who had sustained an ankle injury on a trail in the Pilot Knob Preserve. The trail, located on Lake George Land Conservancy property, had become icy in recent days. The subject was given medical treatment in the field for her injury and carried out to an awaiting ATV, which took her to an ambulance. The subject was back at the trailhead by 6:11 p.m., and transported to the nearest hospital for further care.

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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