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For Release: Wednesday, June 3, 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 Hunter
Greene County
Wildland Search:
On May 26 at 9 p.m., Greene County 911 contacted DEC's Central Office Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance in a search for two hikers who lost the escarpment trail just past Sunset Rock in the Kaaterskill Wild Forest. GPS coordinates placed the 33-year-old woman and 35-year-old man from Brooklyn approximately 100 feet off the trail. Neither hiker had flashlights or water with them at the time. Forest Ranger Rob Dawson responded to the area and hiked up the escarpment trail to their location. Once the hikers were found, Ranger Dawson provided them with water, escorted them back to his vehicle, and gave them a courtesy transport back to their vehicle, which was parked at South Lake. The search and rescue concluded at around 12:40 a.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 27 at 10:45 a.m., DEC's Central Office Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for an injured hiker in the High Peaks. The 26-year-old woman from Waterville had suffered an ankle injury near the Phelps Junction trail, approximately one mile from Marcy Dam. Forest Rangers James Giglinto, Kevin Burns, and Tom Gliddi responded to assist, but a Ray Brook trail crew at Marcy Dam advised they were closer to the hiker and would proceed to her location. The woman rolled her ankle after stepping from a rock into mud while her hiking group descended the Phelps summit. She attempted to continue until she lost sensation in two of her toes and called for help. Once the trail crew reached the woman, she was stabilized and assisted to Marcy Dam. The hiker reached Marcy Dam at 12:30 p.m., and Ranger Giglinto transported her out to South Meadow Road via UTV. The hiking group transported her to a local hospital for additional medical care.

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 27 at 8:30 p.m., a male hiker fell off a ledge into a creek, injuring both legs, after he was separated from his hiking group. Another hiker in the area found the injured man and called 911. Forest Rangers Wayne Krulish and Justin Thaine responded to the area and followed 911 coordinates placing the man on the South Branch of the Cattaraugus Creek. At 11:25 p.m., rescuers from the Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department reached the 29-year-old man from Allegany, secured him in a litter, and carried him out to the Forty Road parking area, arriving at 1 a.m. Ranger Thaine conducted interviews and the injured hiker was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. All Rangers left the area by 3 a.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 27 at 8:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus advising that she had spoken with a man reporting his wife lost on Mount Colvin. The man said he last saw his wife on Colvin while he continued to Blake Mountain with his son. At this time, he believed his wife had started to hike back down without them. Ranger Mecus advised the man to give his wife some more time to get out of the woods and to call back if he hadn't heard from her by 10 p.m. Ranger Mecus advised Dispatch that the man called back at 10 p.m., and had still not heard from his wife. Forest Rangers Mecus, Benjamin Baldwin, and Chris DiCintio responded to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve access for Colvin and Blake to search for the lost hiker. With the assistance of Ausable Club staff, Ranger Mecus made her way across the Lower Ausable Lake while Rangers Baldwin and DiCintio searched the Gill Brook and Gill Brook cutoff trails before reconvening and continuing up Colvin. On May 28 at 12:28 a.m., Ranger Mecus advised that she was with the hiker. The 52-year-old woman from Saratoga Springs had fallen, struck her head, and was complaining of nausea when she was found. The Ausable Club employee in a boat picked up Ranger Mecus and the injured hiker and brought them back to the boat house. Ranger Mecus then drove the injured hiker to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve gate where she was turned over to Keene Valley EMS and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 28 at 4:10 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch for a pair of hikers requesting assistance. The man and woman were hiking down the east side of Armstrong Mountain towards Beaver Meadow Falls when the 24-year-old woman from Duanesburg injured her left knee. Per Forest Ranger Lieutenant Julie Harjung, Dispatch was asked to contact the hikers and instruct them to continue hiking down the mountain where they would meet Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus on Lake Road. From there, Ranger Mecus would give them a ride out to the trailhead. Dispatch was unable to re-establish contact with the two hikers so Ranger Mecus proceeded into the woods to find them. At 5:57 p.m., Ranger Mecus located the couple at the Beaver Meadow Falls bridge, escorted them out to her vehicle, and gave them a ride to their vehicle.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 31 at 1:34 p.m., a hiker on Adam's Mountain called DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 56-year-old woman from Peru, New York, with an ankle injury just below the steep summit. The hiker was reportedly still trying to progress downhill with assistance from her hiking party but was unable to put any weight on the injured leg. Forest Rangers Sarah Bode, Evan Donegan, Jamison Martin, and Logan Quinn responded, with one ranger bringing an ATV. The hiker had progressed a bit further when she was located by Rangers at 4:17 p.m. The Rangers assisted her to an awaiting ATV for transport to a Ranger vehicle, which then brought her to the Newcomb Rescue Squad before being transport to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 31 at 1:47 p.m., a hiking group on Blue Mountain contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 16-year-old girl from Herkimer with a non-weight-bearing ankle injury. Forest Rangers Melissa Milano and Bruce Lomnitzer, along with Assistant Forest Ranger Allison O'Connell, responded to the trailhead. The hiker was reportedly continuing down the trail with the assistance of her hiking party when they were located by Forest Rangers at 3:35 p.m. Once the ankle was assessed and splinted, Forest Rangers and members of the Blue Mountain Lake Fire Department and Rescue Squad assisted the hiker down the trail and were out of the woods at 5:03 p.m. EMS personnel assessed the girl and she advised she would seek additional medical treatment on her own.

Town of Schroon
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 31 at 2:17 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance for a group tubing the Schroon River outside of Ticonderoga. The group was unable to continue their two-mile trip between bridges after a 25-year-old woman from Fort Ann began displaying symptoms of hypothermia. Using the coordinates obtained through 911, Forest Ranger Logan Quinn responded and located the group at 3:16 p.m. Forest Ranger Quinn escorted the group back to their vehicles where they declined medical assistance and left.

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.

Commissioner and Forest Rangers stand 6-feet apart in a large parking lot
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos meets with Forest Rangers and other DEC staff at COVID-19 testing facility in Buffalo

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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