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For Release: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 4/15 - 4/21/19

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."

Town of Little Falls
Herkimer County
Fugitive Search
: At 3:24 p.m. on April 19, a 24-year-old man from Washington, D.C., attempted to burglarize a home on Shells Bush Road in Little Falls. When confronted by a neighbor, the would-be burglar assaulted the neighbor. The man fled to a dense swampy and wooded area behind the house as the injured neighbor called 911. A manhunt ensued involving the New York State Police, Forest Rangers, and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs). A joint search team of five Forest Rangers and five Troopers located and arrested the man at 8:01 p.m. in a densely vegetated area in the swamp basin.

Tug Hill Plateau
Lewis and Jefferson Counties
Special Enforcement Detail:
On April 20, Rangers in Regions 6 and 7 completed the annual special enforcement detail for the 16th annual SNIRT Run, a special ATV event in the greater Tug Hill region of Lewis and Jefferson counties. Twelve Rangers joined 13 Lewis County Sheriff Deputies, two Jefferson County Sheriff Deputies, six ECOs, three state Park Police Officers, and three Troopers for the SNIRT enforcement. Rangers were assigned to patrol the DEC forest preserve, wildlife management area, state forests, and conservation easement lands around Tug Hill. The Rangers' mission was to protect the state lands and the people using them. Rangers issued 28 total tickets for illegal all-terrain-type vehicle operation on state lands during the event.

A Park Police truck and two ATVs with Park Police on them Forest Rangers, Park Police, and local law enforcement lined up on ATVs coming down a road
DEC Forest Rangers, State Park Police and Local Law Enforcement participate in SNIRT Run

Town of Gardiner
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 21 at 3 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call from Ulster County 911 requesting assistance with a rescue in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. A hiker had slipped and fallen about 45 feet into a crevasse near Gertrude's Nose. Forest Rangers responded, along with State Park Police, Ulster County Sheriffs, State Troopers, Mohonk Preserve Rangers, and local fire and ambulance services. The 55-year-old man from Long Island was extricated from the crevasse and flown from the scene by a State Police helicopter to a waiting ambulance. He was then transported to a hospital in Poughkeepsie where he is recovering from his injuries.

Towns of Riverhead
Suffolk County
Prescribed Fires:
On April 11 and April 16, Forest Rangers, with the assistance of a multi-agency fire crew, conducted prescribed fires on the Otis Pike Preserve. A total of 38 acres were treated through prescribed fire. Staff from DEC's Divisions of Forest Protection, Fish and Wildlife, and Lands and Forests came together with DEC volunteers and Central Pine Barrens Commission staff to safely execute the burns. Both burns were done for the purposes of top killing invading woody shrubs and pitch pines invading the fields to maintain and promote habitat for grassland nesting birds.

Aerial view of a field that is smoldering from prescribed burn Aerial view of a field with a patch of grass on fire during prescribed burn
DEC Forest Rangers assist multi-agency fire crews with prescribed fires on Otis Pike Preserve

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On April 17, DEC Forest Rangers, staff from the Albany Pine Bush, volunteer fire department personnel, DEC Wildlife staff, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy conducted a prescribed burn totaling 27.6 acres. The burn was conducted in two grass field units within the Albany Pine Bush Preserve to increase openings for warm season grasses, forbs, and wild blue lupine and to reduce the invasion of woody shrubs. This management technique will improve the habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly within the preserve.

Pine bush staff and Forest Rangers monitoring a prescribed fire a large field that is smoking from a prescribed fire.
DEC Forest Rangers assist Albany Pine Bush staff and local volunteer firefighters with prescribed burn

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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