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For Release: Tuesday, April 28, 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."

Richmond County
Public Outreach:
On April 22, the 50th Earth Day, Forest Rangers assigned to the State's COVID-19 drive-up test site on the grounds of the New York State Office of Mental Health South Beach Psychiatric Facility invited a special guest to motivate the more than 120 staff working there. Smokey Bear maintained appropriate social distancing during interactions with site staff wearing protective masks. His usual message of wildfire prevention was changed to "Only you can prevent COVID-19!" Smokey handed out hand sanitizer, bandanas, and wrist bands and brightened the day for staff while encouraging them to practice prevention from wildfires and viruses.

Smokey Bear bumping elbows with staff at COVID-19 site Smokey Bear practicing social distancing with staff at COVID-19 site
Smokey Bear joins staff at the Staten Island COVID-19 testing site

Town of Lake George
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 24 at 4:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from two 21-year-old women from Saratoga who became disoriented while traversing the Berry Pond Loop in the Lake George Wild Forest Area. Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl responded to their location, hiked into the woods, and located the women at 6:20 p.m. He then escorted them out to the trailhead where they had parked. The women told Ranger Kabrehl that they had started the hike around 4 p.m., and became lost at about 4:30 p.m. The incident concluded at 7 p.m.

Town of Volney
Oswego County
On April 25 at 4:50 p.m., Oswego County 911 contacted Forest Ranger Michael Chappell to assist with a brush fire caused by a campfire on Bunny Drive in the town of Volney. When the Ranger arrived on scene, the fire was contained. Ranger Chappell assisted the responding fire department with extinguishing standing trees that were burning on the property. The fire was declared out at 6 p.m.

New York State COVID-19 Response:
DEC personnel from across agency divisions and regions statewide continue to support the State's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. 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 and other staff in parking lot at COVID-19 site
Forest Ranger Ian Kerr at the COVID-19 testing site in the Bronx

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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