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For Release: Tuesday, May 19, 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 across New York State.

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 Schodack
Rensselaer County
Wilderness Search/Rescue:
On May 12, Forest Rangers Steve Jackson and John Gullen responded to a search for a missing 40-year-old man from Castleton-on-Hudson. The subject left his residence earlier that morning on an electric scooter and family members became worried when he hadn't returned. The family notified the Schodack Police Department and a search ensued. A family member found the man's scooter in a patch of woods between Carney and Van Hoesen Roads. The man was located a short time later, unable to move due to a disability. Emergency personnel set up a steep angle rope system to remove him from a steep drainage area, carried him out of the woods in a litter, and transported him to a local hospital for medical treatment. DEC's Division of Law Enforcement assisted in the rescue along with New York State Police (NYSP), Rensselaer County Search and Rescue, Schodack, East Schodack, Castleton and Schodack Landing fire departments, Castleton and Valatie EMS, and other volunteers.

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 12 at 12:45 p.m., while patrolling Alder Lake, a hiker told Forest Ranger Joe Bink and Lt. Rob Morse that his wife had fallen along the trail around the lake and needed help. Ranger Bink headed down the trail, where he located the injured hiker from Brooklyn and determined she had an unstable lower right leg injury and needed to be carried out of the woods. Rangers brought in a vehicle and staged it at the Alder Lake Dam. Rangers Bink and Lt. Morse carried her out approximately 200 yards to the waiting vehicle. The subject was driven back to the trailhead to her vehicle. Ranger Bink bandaged the woman's lower leg and she advised she would seek additional medical treatment on her own.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Multiple Agency Training:
On May 13, DEC Forest Rangers, Troopers with the New York State Police's dive team, and the Wilmington Volunteer Fire Department conducted a joint training on the West Branch of the Ausable River at the Flume in Wilmington. The training focused on preparing for rescues at this popular recreation site. The training drew upon the technical rescue, swift-water rescue, and underwater capabilities of each agency. Preplanning allows for a more organized and effective emergency response. The Flume is a popular swimming destination that has seen many preventable accidents in recent years.

overhead view of a raft with Forest Rangers on board in an area of rushing water
DEC Forest Rangers and NYSP Dive Team hold training exercise at Ausable River, Essex County

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 13 at 5:20 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from two hikers who became disoriented on the trail for Thomas and Cat mountains and needed assistance. The 76-year-old man and 69-year-old woman from Moreau stated that they intended to hike Thomas Mountain and return to their vehicle at the Route 11 trailhead. Recognizing they were lost with limited supplies, the hikers decided to call 911. Warren County 911 provided Rangers with coordinates that placed the pair south of Thomas Mountain, closer to Cat Mountain. Forest Ranger Hannah O'Connor spoke to the couple on the phone and advised them to take the blue marked trail while Forest Ranger Marie Arnold proceeded on foot to intercept them. Ranger Arnold began from Edgecomb Pond and reached one of the hikers who told her the other had continued ahead north on the trail. Dispatch contacted the other hiker and, per Ranger Arnold, advised the subject to turn around and head back the way they came. Once reunited, Ranger Arnold escorted the pair back out to the trailhead where they were met by Ranger O'Connor, who assisted them the rest of the way via an ATV. The couple was out of the woods by 8:57 p.m.

Town of Colchester
Delaware County
Wilderness Search:
On May 13 at 8:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Joe Bink and Anastasia Allwine responded to a search for a party of seven hikers and two dogs lost in the Delaware Wild Forest. The group was not prepared to spend the night and did not have flashlights to navigate out of the woods on their own. GPS coordinates placed the hikers approximately one mile from the trailhead and they were instructed to stay where they were until Forest Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers Bink and Allwine hiked in, met up with the group at 11:10 p.m., and safely escorted them out of the woods a little after midnight.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 16 at 6:36 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 20-year-old Syracuse man lost on Giant Mountain. The man was hiking with a group when he chose to head back down while his companions continued to the summit. The man reported that he was having difficulty following the trail and not prepared for the icy conditions. Essex County 911 provided coordinates that placed the hiker near Putnam Brook. Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus responded to the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead to assist the hiker but did not find him when he reached the location. Ranger Mecus requested a second attempt to get the missing man's coordinates, which placed him on a ridge west of Roaring Brook. Ranger Mecus located the hiker at 8:14 p.m., and escorted him back to the trail and out of the woods. Once back at the trailhead, the hiker was reunited with the rest of his group.

Town of Arietta
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 16 at 6:55 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of seven hikers requesting assistance after losing the trail while hiking to T Lake Falls and were requesting assistance. Dispatch advised the hikers to call Hamilton County 911 to get their coordinates, which placed them on Mill stream. Forest Ranger Melissa Milano responded to the trailhead for T Lake Falls and requested Dispatch to call the group and advise them to stay where they were. At 8:45 p.m., Ranger Milano made verbal contact, located the group, and escorted the group out of the woods by bushwhacking to the road where their vehicles were parked. The group was out of the woods by 11 p.m.

Town of Chesterfield
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 17 at 10:10 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain. The caller said a 16-year-old female in the group fell, hurt her ankle, and could not continue down the mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay and Forest Rangers Sarah Bode, Marie Arnold, Robbi Mecus, and Jared Booth responded. At 2:20 p.m., Rangers placed the hiker from Chazy in a UTV and started down the mountain. At 2:45 p.m., the group was back to the trailhead and the hiker advised she would seek medical attention on her own for the ankle injury.

Two Forest Rangers carry a young woman with an injured leg through the woods on the trail
Forest Rangers Jared Booth and Lt. Brian Dubay carry out an injured hiker on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

Young woman riding in the back of a Forest Ranger's UTV through the woods
Forest Ranger Jared Booth gives an injured hiker a ride off the mountain on a UTV

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 17 at 9:09 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a hiker separated from his hiking partner on the Cat and Thomas Trail. One hiker went further ahead and failed to meet up on Cat Mountain. After a brief FaceTime conversation, one of the hikers realized that the other, a 26-year-old man from Queensbury, was lost with no equipment or headlamp and only 30 percent left on his phone for a light. Forest Rangers Hannah O'Connor and Chuck Kabrehl responded to the trailhead and followed 911 coordinates that placed the missing hiker halfway along the ridge trail between Cat and Thomas mountains. The hiker was told to continue south along the trail to meet up with the Forest Rangers coming to assist him. At one point, the hiker became disoriented along the trail and again reached out for help. Rangers told the subject to remain in place. At 10:55 p.m., Rangers located the hiker and walked him out to the Edgecomb Pond Trailhead.

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.

Aerial view of a parking lot that has been converted to a COVID testing site
Forest Rangers conduct traffic control at COVID-19 testing site in Binghamton

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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