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For Release: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Recent Forest Ranger Actions

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 Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 4 at 6:20 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a family of hikers from Johnstown took the wrong trail while visiting Rock Lake in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest area. Dispatch called the family, and with coordinates obtained through 911, placed them near the end of the Rock River Trail about three miles from the trailhead. Forest Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay directed the hikers to head south on the trail and pass straight through the four-way intersection to reach their vehicle. Forest Ranger Gary Miller was notified, responded to the trailhead, and started walking in to meet with the family. At 8:27 p.m., Dispatch contacted the hikers again and requested new coordinates that showed they had taken a left at the intersection and were heading down a snowmobile trail that eventually parallels Route 28. With this information, Ranger Miller returned to his vehicle and drove down Route 28 to the group's last known location and was able to make voice contact with the family. The Ranger then entered the woods, found the family, and at 9:15 p.m. everyone was out and heading back home.

Town of Warrensburg
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 5 at 3:50 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a group of three girls lost on Hackensack Mountain. A 17-year-old, 10-year-old, and four-year-old from Warrensburg took a walk and lost the trail. Coordinates provided by 911 placed the group in the woods near a private road. Forest Ranger Art Perryman responded to their location and brought the girls out to Pennock Drive where they were met by parents.

New York State Covid-19 Response:
DEC personnel from across agency divisions and regions statewide are supporting the State's response to COVID-19. Personnel from more than 20 New York State agencies are working on response efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. DEC Forest Rangers' expertise in the Incident Command System (ICS) and experience in applying ICS to wide area searches and large wildland fire have made them a key part of this statewide effort.

Several DEC Forest Rangers are part of the New York State Incident Management Team, or IMT, an interagency team comprised of personnel from various state, county, and local agencies who represent a variety of disciplines. The IMT assists Incident Command personnel and emergency managers in ensuring a prompt, efficient, and organized response to complex incidents.

Forest Ranger vehicle and trailer parked at a COVID-19 Response Site
Forest Rangers assist at the new COVID-19 mobile
testing site at the State University at Albany campus

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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