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For Release: Tuesday, July 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 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
Kaaterskill Wild Forest
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 20 at 2:15 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch was notified that a 72-year-old man from Galloway, New Jersey, slipped on wet rocks near Kaaterskill Falls causing an ankle injury. Forest Rangers Breigle, Dawson, and Fox and Assistant Forest Rangers France and Lasselle responded to the scene. The hiker was immobilized in a vacuum air mattress and placed into a litter. He was then carried out to a Ranger's vehicle and transported to the trailhead. The hiker stated he would seek additional medical care on his own.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 20 at 6:28 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 22-year-old female hiker from Oneonta on Blue Mountain with a non-weight-bearing injury to her lower leg. Coordinates provided by 911 placed the hiker about halfway down the mountain. Forest Rangers Scott, Miller, Lewis, and Milano responded along with the Blue Mountain Fire Department. At 8:05 p.m., the hiker was located and first aid was provided for her injury. The subject was then carried in a litter down the mountain to the trailhead where she opted to seek further medical attention on her own.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 21 at 1:37 p.m., Herkimer County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch about an injured 75-year-old female hiker on the Moss Lake trail. While hiking the loop trail around Moss Lake, the hiker from Tonawanda stepped down a bank and rolled her ankle. Forest Rangers McCartney and Hanno responded along with the Inlet Police Department, Inlet Volunteer Ambulance, and the Eagle Bay Fire Department. The hiker was packaged by EMS and evacuated via ATV by the Rangers. She was then transported to a local hospital for additional medical treatment.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 21 at 1:51 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from an injured hiker on Donaldson Mountain in the Western High Peaks Wilderness. The caller slid down a rock while descending and heard a snap in his ankle. During the initial contact, the caller indicated he would try to continue down the mountain on his own after splinting the injury. At 4:30 p.m., Forest Ranger DiCintio contacted the hiker, who had only been able to descend halfway down the mountain and was requesting assistance. Forest Rangers Burns and DiCintio responded with an ATV to Calkins Creek and hiked 1.5 miles to reach the subject. After re-splinting the injury, the 46-year-old from Lockport was assisted back to the ATV and brought out to Coreys Road at 9 p.m. for transport to a local hospital.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 24 at 12:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted about two 19-year-old hikers from Rye, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky, who were trapped on the Western slope of the Trap Dike. Forest Rangers Burns, DiCintio, Mecus, and Praczkajlo responded with the help of the New York State Police Aviation Unit for a hoist rescue operation. Ranger Burns and Climbing Specialist Crofoot flew from Lake Clear to Lake Placid and picked up Forest Rangers Mecus and Praczjaklo at 2:30 p.m. From there, the officers flew and lowered the rescue team to the Trap Dike to the hikers' location high up on the slide. At 3:30 p.m., contact was made, and using a series of technical rope systems, the hikers were lowered to safety. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the rescue team was at the base of the Trap Dike along with the hikers who were then able to walk out on their own.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 25 at 10 a.m., Forest Ranger Lt. Murphy was monitoring the parking area at the Fulton Chain Wild Forest Bald Mountain Rondaxe trailhead when he was approached by a hiker running down the trail. The hiker stated there was a 14-year-old male who needed medical assistance further up the trail. Lt. Murphy notified Herkimer County 911 requesting Old Forge Fire and Rescue EMS to respond. Lt. Murphy located the injured hiker with his mother about a quarter of a mile up the trail and provided first aid. Upon arrival, Old Forge Fire and Rescue provided additional medical treatment. The hiker from Auburn was put in a rescue litter, brought down to the trailhead, and transported by Old Forge Rescue to a local hospital.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
On July 26 at 4:20 a.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from New York State Police Dispatch reporting a missing 75-year-old man. The call was made by the man's son who had last seen his father about three hours prior. Forest Rangers Scott and Temple made the initial response to the man's last know location, and after a preliminary search of the area with negative results, additional Rangers were requested to respond. Forest Rangers Lomnitzer, Arnold, DiCintio, Martin, Milano, Nally, Quinn, Thompson, and Praczkajlo responded to assist. After hours of searching, the man was located at 1:25 p.m. in good condition.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 26 at 3:40 p.m., Forest Ranger Martin overheard a call for an injured hiker on Giant's Ledge. Ranger Martin arrived on scene with Shandaken EMS and Big Indian Fire Department. The Chief of the Big Indian Fire Department reported a hiker suffering from heat stroke approximately five miles up the blue trail. At 4:05 p.m., Ranger Martin entered the woods hiking toward Giant's Ledge from the CR 47 parking area. At 4:55 p.m., the Ranger located the ill hiker and his partner near the corner of Giant's Ledge and Panther Mountain. The 42-year-old hiker from Ulster Park was dehydrated and suffering from severe cramping. After receiving water and food, the group hiked out to a waiting UTV on the Winnisook Trail and transported out.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 26 at 6:10 p.m., Warren and Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a separated and lost hiker on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest Area. Forest Rangers Donegan and Poulton responded to the area of the hiker's last known coordinates and at 8:36 p.m., the 25-year-old woman from Antwerp, New York, was located. At 9:56 p.m., Rangers and the lost hiker were back at the trailhead where she was reunited with the rest of her party.

New York State COVID-19 Response:
DEC personnel from across agency divisions and regions across New York 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 Ranger stands in a road, directing a long line of traffic into a COVID-19 testing site.
Forest Ranger on duty at the Niagara County COVID-19 testing site

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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