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For Release: Tuesday, June 9, 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 Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 1 at 1:50 p.m., Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 45-year-old male hiker from Glens Falls was unconscious after suffering a seizure on the Shelving Rock Bay Trail. When Forest Rangers Callee Baker and Mark St. Claire responded to the scene, the man was conscious and alert. With assistance from the Fort Ann Fire Department, the hiker was evaluated and brought back to the trailhead using a wheeled litter and a six-wheeler. The subject refused further medical treatment.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On June 2 at 9:14 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from three lost hikers from Rochester in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The hikers lost the trail about a mile from Marcy Dam. The hikers were immediately directed to call 911 to obtain their coordinates. The group had planned to hike Mt. Marcy, Skylight, and Gray, but were unprepared for the snow/alpine conditions and ran out of time before completing Gray. They became lost in the dark with only one source of light and one of the trio wearing shorts and tennis shoes. DEC's Ray Brook Trail Crew, staying at the Marcy Dam interior outpost, responded to the coordinates obtained by Essex County 911, while Forest Ranger Andrew Lewis headed to the Adirondak Loj. Trail crew members Neilson Snye and Peter Price reached the lost hikers at 10:14 p.m., and brought the group to the Marcy Dam outpost at 11:03 p.m., where crew member Gary Valentine assisted in warming them. Ranger Lewis met the party at Marcy Dam at 11:48 p.m., and transported the hikers via UTV to their vehicles.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 3 at 8:53 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a father and son from Oakland, New Jersey, who were hiking down the Tongue Mountain range when they requested assistance. The 20-year-old advised Dispatch that his 50-year-old father was about 600 yards behind him. Both men had run out of water and were feeling dizzy and nauseous. Coordinates provided by the hikers placed them about a half mile from Montcalm Point. Forest Rangers Chuck Kabrehl and Evan Donegan responded to Green Island and took a boat to Montcalm Point to assist. While awaiting Forest Ranger arrival, the pair contacted Dispatch to advise that they were beginning to shiver and that the father's lips had turned purple. The pair had abandoned one pack up the trail, and another pack with dry clothing and sleeping bags close to their current location. The hikers were advised to go back to where the pack was until Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers Kabrehl and Donegan reached the two men at 10:50 p.m., escorted them to the boat, and gave them a ride back to shore. Once back at Green Island, the two men were given a courtesy ride back to their vehicle.

Town of Greenfield
Saratoga County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 4 at 10:23 a.m., Forest Ranger Lt. Chris Kostoss advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch that New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation in Albany was requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a hoist operation in Saratoga County. NYSP advised that at 10:14 a.m., Saratoga County 911 had made the request for aviation assistance for a man in Greenfield who injured his left leg while logging. While cutting a downed tree, one of the logs rolled back onto his left leg, crushing it. Forest Ranger Joe Hess responded to assist the injured 40-year-old man from Greenfield Center. Ranger Hess was lowered to the scene by NYSP Aviation where he was met by Community Ambulance Service paramedics providing on-scene care. With the assistance of EMS, Ranger Hess packaged the logger into a litter. The man was hoisted and transported to a waiting LifeNet of New York EMS helicopter on Humes Road for transport to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 4 at 1:37 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Fulton County 911 reporting a 19-year-old man from Mohawk needing assistance for a foot laceration after he hit a rock while using a rope swing at Nine Corner Lake in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest Area. Forest Rangers Dave Nally and Melissa Milano responded to the scene along with the Caroga Lake Rescue. At 3:08 p.m., Rangers and EMS had the man out of the woods where he advised that he would seek additional medical attention on his own.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 5 at 12:35 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 46-year-old male hiker from Princeton, New Jersey, who was halfway up Bald Mountain with an unstable leg injury. Forest Rangers Aimee Bills, Lincoln Hanno and Matthew Savarie responded to the scene and located the hiker and his hiking party at 2 p.m. Rangers carried the injured hiker to the trailhead where they were met by Old Forge Ambulance. The injured hiker declined transport to a local hospital and would seek medical attention on his own.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On June 6 at 12:45 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from two male hikers who became disoriented while hiking Giant Mountain. Coordinates provided by 911 placed the hikers above the Washbowl section of Giant Mountain. Forest Rangers Robbi Mecus and Megan LaPierre responded to assist. An Assistant Forest Ranger patrolling Giant was also alerted by Dispatch. Forest Ranger Mecus arrived and began coordinating search efforts as Forest Ranger LaPierre began searching the Little Dipper Area of the mountain. At 1:57 p.m., the Rangers located the 19-year-old and 21-year-old hikers from Niagara Falls. The pair was escorted back to the trailhead and the incident concluded at 2:45 p.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 6 at 5:10 p.m., a call came into DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a father and daughter from Theresa who were paddling on the Stillwater Reservoir in the Independence River Wild Forest. A strong storm came through and duo found themselves in dire need to make it to shore. They eventually got to a campsite and took shelter in an outhouse. The storm did not let up, so the paddlers called for Forest Ranger assistance. Forest Ranger Luke Evans responded to the Stillwater boat launch and using a motorboat, responded to assist the 58-year-old man and 28-year-old woman. At 6:05 p.m., Ranger Evans reached the pair and by 6:30 p.m., everyone was back to shore safely.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 7 at 1:12 a.m., Central Office Dispatch received a call from State Police advising that they received a call from a group of hikers lost on Dix Mountain. Coordinates provided by the hikers placed them on the Beckhorn trail heading toward Hough Peak. Forest Rangers Andrew Lewis and Logan Quinn responded to assist. Rangers were at the trailhead by 3:30 a.m., and located the group of four hikers from East Schodack at 9:16 a.m. After a preliminary medical check, Rangers began to escort the group back down the mountain. While hiking down, one of the hikers began to exhibit signs of exhaustion. Rangers Lewis and Quinn helped the hiker rehydrate, and gave the hikers something to eat and a chance to warm up and rest. The exhausted hiker's gear was split between the two Rangers as they proceeded down to the base of the mountain where they were met with six-wheelers provided by Forest Ranger Art Perryman and Forest Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay. The group was driven the rest of the way to the trailhead and at 5:25 p.m., the hiking party and Rangers were out of the woods. The group left in their own vehicle.

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.

Forest Rangers in a large parking lot with white tents for COVID testing site
Forest Rangers support COVID-19 testing facility 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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