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For Release: Tuesday, August 11, 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/ Kaaterskill Wild Forest
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 5 at 3:23 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch notified Region 4 Forest Rangers of a hiker feeling sick at Kaaterskill Falls. Dispatch advised that Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) France and local EMS were on scene and attempting to locate the hiker. Additional Forest Rangers responded to assist and began hiking into the area to locate the 22-year-old female hiker from Flushing. The subject was located on the yellow trail and evaluated by AFR France and EMS staff. The woman stated that she hiked into the middle pool of the falls via the staircase trail and became nauseated and dizzy. The subject's companion called 911 and began walking back up the staircase trail when the pair were met by AFR France and EMS. The hiker was assisted out to the trailhead on Laurel House Road, where she declined additional medical care.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 5 at 3:24 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man reporting that he was stranded with his wife and two granddaughters (10 and 16 years old) on the shore of Middle Saranac Lake. He stated that the wind was too strong to paddle back the way they came. The caller estimated that the group was about a quarter of a mile north of the outlet of Middle and Lower Saranac lakes. Forest Ranger DiCintio responded to assist with the help of DEC Operations staff. Two boats were deployed to the stranded canoeists' location, one to transport the group of four and the other to tow their canoe and two kayaks. At 6:13 p.m., Ranger DiCintio advised that the group from Cincinnati, Ohio, had been dropped off at the South Creek boat launch where their vehicle was located.

Town of Thompson
Sullivan County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 6 at 8:20 p.m., the Rock Hill Fire Department requested DEC assistance to search for two hikers in the Neversink Unique Area. Forest Ranger Franke responded, arriving on scene at 9 p.m. A group of approximately 100 individuals staying at Camp Morris in Woodridge hiked into the area and at approximately 4:45 p.m., two of the individuals went swimming at Denton Falls. One of the members of the group watched as the current swept the swimmers down river and he returned to the camp without reporting the incident. At 8:05 p.m., the two hikers were reported missing. Rock Hill Fire Department searched along the trails and located two sets of clothing along the riverbank near the falls. New York State Police Aviation flew over the river with negative results. State Police also searched the ground and the Town of Fallsburg Police K-9 tracked the clothing to the water. Forest Ranger Franke dispatched four search crews to search the riverbanks and the blue trail that runs parallel to the river. At the same time, New York State Police monitored the Neversink River from the Oakland Valley Bridge and the Forestburgh Fire Department monitored the river from Eden Road. At approximately 12:15 a.m., Forest Ranger Stratton located the two hikers on an island in the middle of the river, south of Denton Falls. Rock Hill Fire Department swiftwater gear (personal floatation devices, throw bags, rope, and shoes) was dispatched to the Rangers to use in the rescue. Forest Rangers Stratton, Cowart, and Rusher and two Rock Hill Fire Department members performed a wedge formation, a swiftwater technique, to cross the Neverink River and rescue the stranded hikers. The hikers had no injuries and hiked out to a waiting UTV. The subjects were evaluated by Hatzalah EMS and transported to the trailhead at 3:45 a.m.

Dark photo of Forest Rangers helping hikers through water
Rescuers assist in getting hikers to safety

Forest Rangers leaning over a map and marking it for search routes
Forest Rangers study maps to determine the best search routes in Neversink Unique Area

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 8, a 44-year-old man was laying on the ground next to the yellow trail on his way back from Kaaterskill Falls. The man, recovering from COVID-19, lost consciousness after not getting enough oxygen. Family members waved down Assistant Forest Ranger Lassalle who called Forest Ranger Bink and Lt. Pachan. The Rangers arrived on scene and medically evaluated the ill hiker. After some rest, the hiker was able to slowly walk back to the Laurel House trailhead with assistance from the Forest Rangers. Once at the trailhead, Hunter Ambulance evaluated the man and he declined further medical care.

a male hiker lays on the side of the hiking trail on the ground while being evaluated by Forest Rangers
Man assisted by Forest Rangers in town of Hunter

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 8 at 5:40 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a hiker on Snowy Mountain who was having trouble breathing and unable to hike back out. Coordinates placed the 29-year-old hiker from Herkimer near the top of the mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Ganswindt requested Rangers Milano and Scott to head in and assess the situation as the hiker's condition was reportedly deteriorating. New York State Police Aviation was put on standby and Forest Rangers Thompson, Kerr, and Nally were requested to be available for a possible carry out. At 7:45 p.m., Rangers were with the hiker who was reportedly feeling better and able to slowly start back down the mountain. At 11:59 p.m., they were out of the woods and the hiker was evaluated by Indian Lake EMS.

Town of Clifton
St Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 9 at 12:20 p.m., while patrolling the Cranberry Lake Campground, a 34-year-old man from Port Jefferson flagged down Forest Ranger Baldwin reporting his 10-year-old son had been missing for an hour. Ranger Baldwin immediately radioed the campground entrance booth to close and lock the gates. Ranger Baldwin organized the campground staff to begin a systematic search of all campground loops, bathrooms, and the beach and playground areas. Forest Ranger Lt. Murphy contacted the St. Lawrence County 911 Center to have Cranberry Lake Fire Department respond with their boat and dive team and then contacted New York State Police to have investigators and a K-9 bloodhound dog team respond to assist. At 12:45 p.m., searchers located the boy in another area of the campground, uninjured.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 9 at 1:30 p.m., a 15-year-old girl from Queens was rescued from the Kaaterskill Clove. The subject had jumped off a six-foot-high rock into the swimming hole and a family member who jumped in right after her landed on her. The girl swam to the edge of swimming hole and told family she was experiencing back pain and did not want to move. Her family called Greene County 911 requesting medical assistance and units in the area responded. Forest Ranger Dawson and a New York State Trooper hiked in and located the girl. Ranger Dawson provided medical care and determined the girl had to be immobilized in a SKED and vacuum mattress. The girl was carried out with the assistance of low-angle technical rope rescue systems. The Greene County medics determined the girl should be airlifted to the hospital. She was transported by Hunter Ambulance to the staged helicopter and Lifenet transported her to a local hospital for further medical treatment. The incident concluded at 3:30 p.m.

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 9 at 9:14 p.m., an operator from the International Emergency Response Center contacted the Forest Ranger Emergency Line for an activation received from a SPOT beacon. There were no messages received, only the SOS beacon. Coordinates placed the beacon at the west side of Alder Lake. At approximately 10:29 p.m., Forest Ranger Stratton arrived at Alder Lake and hiked in to locate the person. At 10:50 p.m., contact was made with the owner of the beacon, who set the beacon off because of a bear in her campsite eating her food. Ranger Stratton educated the camper on proper food storage and no further action was needed. For more information on avoiding human/bear conflicts visit DEC's website.

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 and points at documents hanging on a wall at a COVID-19 testing center
Forest Ranger Carpenter reviews documents at the Monroe County COVID-19 testing facility

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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