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For Release: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions from March 9 to March 15, 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."

Ban on Brush Burning:
With spring approaching, DEC reminds residents that the statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning begins March 16, and runs through May 14. Conditions for wildfires are heightened in springtime when most wildfires occur.

Every spring as the snow melts and vegetation dries out, New York's partnering local responders all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal spring debris fires. DEC Forest Rangers respond to and assist local agencies with the larger and more remote fires. Complying with the burn ban prevents unnecessary burdens on and dangers to state resources and local responders, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
For more details, go to DEC's website.

Town of Kent
Putnam County
On the afternoon of March 9, Forest Rangers responded to a wildfire in the town of Kent. The fire was caused by debris burning and scorched 28 acres on private land. Rangers took appropriate enforcement action and issued the homeowner three tickets.

Town of Fishkill
Dutchess County
On March 9, a wildfire started along the Metro-North Railroad line. The fire destroyed or damaged several vehicles parked at a hiking trailhead. The fire, which was spotted over the roadway, sparked flames in the Beacon Mountain/Breakneck Ridge area of Hudson Highlands State Park. Forest Rangers, New York State Park personnel, and numerous other local fire departments and emergency responders mobilized to fight the blaze. Steep rocky terrain made suppression difficult. The fire burned 277 acres before it was contained.

A line of cars destroyed and charred from a wildfire.
Wildfire damages/destroys vehicles along Metro-North railroad line

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 9 at 4:38 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call reporting a 73-year-old female hiker from West Park with a head and leg injury while hiking on the trail between Twin and Sugarloaf mountains. A group of five hikers from the 3500 Club began their hike at approximately 9 a.m. at Mink Hollow and proceeded to the plateau summit; four hikers then continued on Devil's Path over Sugarloaf Mountain. On the eastern descent near Pecoy Notch, the woman slipped on ice and fell. While two people hiked out to call for help, the woman and her husband continued down the Pecoy Notch trail. Forest Ranger Rob Dawson proceeded in at the Roaring Kill trailhead with rescue gear and located the woman at 6:30 p.m., approximately 1.3 miles from the trailhead. Ranger Dawson provided medical care and determined the woman had a stable right leg injury and right shoulder pain. While the woman was assisted further down the trail, Forest Rangers Jason Seeley, Katie Fox, Stephen Ellis, and Christine Nelson proceeded in with a Stokes litter. The woman continued walking out until approximately 0.75 miles from the trailhead and could not continue from there. She was packaged into the litter and a wheel was attached. Rangers Steven Jackson and John Gullen arrived to assist with the carryout and wheeled the woman out to Roaring Kill Road at 9:30 p.m. She declined further treatment, saying she would follow up with a doctor the next day.

Forest Rangers with headlamps on assisting a hiker on a stretcher
Forest Rangers assist injured hiker off Greene County trail

Town of Austerlitz
Columbia County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 9, a 61-year-old female hiker from East Chatham was hiking to the top of Harvey Mountain when she slipped and suffered an ankle injury and was unable to hike back down the mountain. Forest Rangers John Gullen and Steven Jackson and volunteers from the Austerlitz, Spencertown, and Canaan fire departments responded to the scene to assist the injured hiker. Emergency personnel splinted the hiker's ankle and placed her on a litter to be carried 0.25 miles to a staged vehicle where she was driven down the mountain to the trailhead and transported to a local hospital.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 10, at approximately 8 p.m., 10 Forest Rangers were dispatched to the Devil's Path for an injured male hiker that was 2.5 miles from the Spruceton trailhead. A hiking party reported that one of the hikers could no longer walk due to dehydration, mild hypothermia, and severe cramping. Rangers hiked into their location where they warmed, hydrated, and fed the group. Two of the hikers were able to hike back out to the trailhead with assistance but the third hiker was unable to continue. Forest Rangers hydro-wrapped the 26-year-old man from Brooklyn, and placed him into a SKED stretcher before carrying him down the mountain. The Lexington Fire Department met Rangers at a trail intersection and transported the injured hiker the remaining mile to the trailhead using a UTV. The Ashland Ambulance took the hiker to a local hospital for treatment. Rangers were clear from the woods at 8:30 a.m. the following morning.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 12 at 2:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of ice climbers on the North Face of Gothics. They reported a 52-year-old man from West Point had sustained a lower leg injury and was unable to hike out. The group continued to repel down the mountain to meet Forest Rangers in the basin, a location where New York State Police Aviation could hoist the subject out if needed. Eight Forest Rangers responded to their location and at 3:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Ben Baldwin was inserted by helicopter to the base of the slide. Shortly thereafter, he made contact with the climbers and monitored them as they repelled down to him. Once Forest Ranger Baldwin was with the injured man, he evaluated the injury, braced it, and prepared him for an emergency hoist. At 5:34 p.m., the climber was in the helicopter with Forest Ranger James Giglinto and brought to a local hospital in Saranac Lake for further medical treatment. Forest Rangers hiked out with the remaining climbing party back to the Garden Trailhead and were cleared of the scene.

Town of Theresa
Jefferson County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 15 at 9:03 a.m., Forest Ranger Howard Thomes advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch of a search request from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for a missing 28-year-old woman last seen at her home at 7 a.m. Sheriff's deputies responded with a K9 unit along with seven Forest Rangers, a State Police/UAS drone operator, State Police K9 unit, three Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and an Environmental Conservation Police Officer Lieutenant. State Trooper Mick Mason spotted the woman on the opposite side of Hyde Lake at 11:55 a.m., and the sighting was confirmed by Trooper Bender via drone. The woman was located by Forest Ranger Aimee Bills at 12:50 p.m., walking between camps. She was transported by Indian River Ambulance to a local hospital for observation due to dehydration caused by underlying health problems.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On March 15, at 6:07 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a concerned friend about a lost hiker in the Dix Wilderness Area. The hiker could not make a phone call but texted coordinates to advise she was lost. The coordinates were on the eastern side of Macomb Mountain, approximately three miles east of Elk Lake. Responding Forest Rangers approached from Elk Lake and the West Mill Brook drainage, while another Forest Ranger assisted on the eastern side, relaying crew information to Ray Brook. At 8:02 p.m., direct text contact was established with the hiker, who stated she was in an emergency foil tent but having difficulties due to wet and frozen socks and losing the Lillian Brook trail, and was unable to locate the main Dix trail. To confirm the location, Verizon pinged the last known cell location, which was approximately 12 miles southwest of their tower on Belfry Mountain. The hiker was located by Rangers at 2:55 a.m., in a different area than the original coordinates. She was fed, rehydrated, and rewarmed in a sleeping bag. Four additional Forest Rangers were en route as a ground crew for extracting the hiker and Lt. Brian Dubay requested New York State Police Aviation for assistance. On March 16 at 8:17 a.m., the 25-year-old hiker from Glens Falls was put in the helicopter piloted by State Police Pilot Scott Kotronis who, with Forest Ranger Crew Chief Chris DiCintio, took her to a local hospital for further medical treatment.

overhead view of woodsy area with faint view of Forest Ranger dressed in orange
Forest Rangers (orange) await New York State Police Aviation assistance in Essex County rescue

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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