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For Release: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions from January 20 to January 26, 2020

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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.

"DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York's wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The state's brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white-water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service."

Town of Riverhead
Suffolk County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 20 at 1:14 p.m., DEC's Central Office Dispatch received a call reporting a lost hunter in the Sarnoff State Forest. Forest Rangers Joseph Pries and John Scott responded to the hunter's last known location, but quickly received word the hunter was able to send a screenshot from his phone with his location to Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Sean Rockefeller. Using the screenshot, Forest Rangers Pries and Scott met ECO Rockefeller and ECO Jacob Clark and pinpointed the lost hunter's exact location. The officers found the 48-year-old hunter one-quarter mile off the trail and assisted him back to his vehicle.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 25 at 4:29 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured climber at Chapel Pond. The reporting party stated that he had lowered the injured 41-year-old Albany man down the remaining distance to the ground and then hiked out to Route 73, where he flagged down a New York State Trooper for assistance. Forest Rangers Robbi Mecus, James Giglinto, and Jamison Martin responded to the scene and were met by the Keene and Keene Valley fire departments' Back Country Rescue Team and Keene Valley EMS. After speaking with the reporting party, Forest Ranger Giglinto reported that the injured climber could have suffered a possible spinal injury from falling and striking a ledge with his head and neck. Forest Rangers and volunteers located the man, stabilized him, and carried him out to Route 73, where he was taken to a local hospital by EMS. The climber was later transported to Albany Medical Center.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Flat Ice Rescue:
On Jan. 26 at 11:08 a.m., Central Office Dispatch received a call from Greene County 911 reporting two ice fishermen who had broken through the ice while riding a snowmobile across North South Lake. The men were towing two ice fishing sleds full of fishing gear from the South Lake spillway to a fishing spot on North Lake when the snowmobile fell through the thinner ice. Both men went into the water, but were able to self-rescue, crawling approximately 50 feet on the ice to shore. A nearby ice fisherman assisted the two men back to shore and called 911. Forest Rangers Hannah O'Connor, Steven Jackson, Robert Dawson, and Jeffrey Breigle, as well as Tannersville Rescue Squad and Hunter Ambulance, responded to the scene and assisted the fishermen out of the woods. The 49-year-old man from High Falls and the 61-year-old man from Washingtonville were evaluated by Hunter Ambulance and refused further medical treatment. Forest Rangers began to evaluate the scene to develop a plan to extract the snowmobile and ice fishing equipment from the remote section of the lake. A local vehicle recovery service was hired by the fishermen to get the snowmobile out of the water. A Forest Ranger using a flat ice rescue suit assisted the fishermen in retrieving and returning their personal belongings, which were scattered around the broken ice and the snowmobile. DEC reminds New Yorkers to visit the DEC website for important information about ice safety.

Two rangers in a canoe rescuing the men who broke through ice on a lake
Forest Rangers assist two fisherman who broke through the ice on North South Lake

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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