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For Release: Tuesday, May 21, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/13 - 5/19/19

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."

City of Albany
Albany County
On May 13, Forest Ranger David Nally joined Smokey Bear at Adirondack Day at the Legislative Office Building in Albany. The event raises awareness among state legislators of the region's history and culture, recreational opportunities, economic development, and challenges that lie ahead.

Smokey Bear, Senator Pam Helming, and Forest Ranger David Nally standing in a row for a picture
NYS Senator Pam Helming with Ranger Nally
and Smokey Bear at Adirondack Day

Town of Whitestown
Oneida County
Swift Water Task Force Training:
On May 14 and 15, five Forest Ranger Swift Water Team members along with DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), New York State Police, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Police participated in a joint swift water/flood rescue training at the new Swift Water Flood Training Center at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. The purpose of the training was to develop a multi-agency task force that can rapidly respond to swift water/flood rescues in New York.

Forest Rangers in waist-deep water conducting rescue techniquesForest Ranger sitting on mostly submerged SUV while other Forest Rangers are in the water up to their waists with a raft going in for the rescue
Multi-agency swift water rescue team trains at Swift Water Flood Training Center

Town of Wells/Auger Falls
Hamilton County
Swift Water Training:
On May 17, Region 5 DEC Forest Rangers conducted swift water training exercises at Auger Falls in Hamilton County. Forest Rangers are often called to aid in swift water rescues and serve as instructors with the Office of Fire Prevention and Control at the new swift water flood training center.

Forest Rangers in rushing water conducting some training with ropes
Forest Rangers conducting swift water
training exercises at Auger Falls

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 17 at 5:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 33-year-old male from Saranac Lake who became separated from his party while descending Mt. Jo. When his hiking companions arrived at the trailhead, the subject was not there. The hiking party proceeded to check both the long and short trails and eventually met at Heart Lake without finding their missing friend. Two Forest Rangers arrived on scene, and while interviewing the group, the lost hiker walked in to the Adirondak Loj. The subject had veered off onto a herd path, followed a stream, and arrived at Last Chance Ranch. The caretaker at the ranch gave him a ride back to the Loj. The incident concluded at 6:35 p.m.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 17 at 8:20 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for two individuals stranded after flipping their kayaks on Middle Saranac Lake. The reporting party helped the individuals to shore, but the Denver, Colorado, men could not navigate the trail to Ampersand Parking Lot in the dark. Forest Ranger Scott Sabo arrived on scene, located the men at 9:50 p.m., and helped the subjects to the trailhead by 11 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 18 at 4:40 p.m., Central Office Dispatch received a 911 call requesting assistance for a 58-year-old female from Kingston who had fallen ill while hiking with a Girl Scout troop from Laurel House trailhead to Inspiration Point. When the scouts reached Layman's Monument, the woman felt weak and decided to rest while the rest of group continued to Inspiration Point. When the troop returned to the subject's location, she was still unable to continue. Forest Ranger Robert Dawson was on foot patrol in the area and was able to quickly find and evaluate the hiker. Food and water were provided, and the subject walked out a short distance to a jeep trail, where a Hunter Police unit drove her to the roadside. The woman refused further medical care and left the area with her group.

Town of Minerva
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 18 at 6:10 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call from a 30-year-old female hiker on Vanderwhacker Mountain. The call provided little information, but it was clear the hiker had lost the trail. The subject remained at her location overnight at the direction of Ray Brook Dispatch and began moving at first light. Several Rangers worked through the night to locate her, and additional Rangers were dispatched to the search along with NYSP Aviation in the early morning hours. The subject was located around 2:30 p.m., the next day by Rangers who were able to follow her tracks down a drainage.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 19 at 4:19 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting two hikers requesting assistance. The hikers had parked at Connery Pond and walked to Lake Placid. While at Lake Placid, they spoke with an unknown individual about hiking to the summit of Whiteface, which they were told would take about 45 minutes. After climbing through the ice and snow to the summit for several hours, the couple called for a taxi to return to their vehicle, which was six miles away. They were informed the Whiteface Mountain toll road was closed. Forest Ranger Robert Praczkajlo picked up the hikers at the Whiteface summit and gave them a courtesy transport back to their vehicle by 5:50 p.m.

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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