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For Release: Tuesday, August 25, 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 Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 17 at 2:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Brand, Stratton, Martin, and Franke responded to the Giant Ledge Trail following a report of a female hiker with a right ankle injury. Rangers Martin and Brand located the 28-year-old woman from Brooklyn at 3 p.m., placed a splint on her injured leg, and packaged her up to be transported by litter to a waiting UTV. At 4:36 p.m., Rangers Stratton and Franke reported the subject was out of the woods and being treated by local EMS at the trailhead. Emergency personnel then transported the woman to a local hospital for additional treatment.

Town of Hunter/Kaaterskill Wild Forest
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 18 at 2:15 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received word that a 72-year-old hiker from East Hills had suffered an unstable lower leg injury on the Escarpment Trail, south of Sunset Rock. Forest Rangers Breigle, Dawson, Fox, Assistant Forest Ranger France, and members of the Haines Falls Fire Department, Tannersville Rescue Squad, and a Greene County Paramedic responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers hiked in and located the injured hiker less than a mile from the trailhead. The Rangers splinted the woman's ankle, packaged her in a Stokes basket with a rescue wheel, and carried her out to the trailhead using rope rescue techniques. After being brought out to North/South Lake Campground at 5:10 p.m., the hiker was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Forest Rangers carrying a person in a stretcher on a trail in the woods
Injured woman packaged up on Escarpment Trail in Kaaterskill Wild Forest

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 18 at 3:41 p.m., a hiker contacted DEC's Ray Brook dispatch requesting help for a 20-year-old man from Norwich who was having seizures on the Adirondack Mountain Club property on Mount Jo. Forest Ranger Captain Streiff, Lieutenant Harjung, and Ranger Burns responded to assist. The Rangers located the hiker at 4:29 p.m., approximately 1/4 mile in on the trail. With assistance from Ranger Burns and a member of the hiking party, the Rangers walked with the man to the trailhead where he was assessed by the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service. The man declined further medical treatment and advised he would seek medical assistance on his own.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 18 at 6:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from a family of lost hikers on Whiteface Mountain. The hikers, from Johnstown, called from a shed in the Whiteface Ski Area near the Lookout Lift, stating they had been caught in a downpour and were too cold to continue after getting lost on the trails without a map. Forest Ranger Burns responded and hiked a half-mile to their location from the road. He gave them jackets, flashlights, and handwarmers before beginning the walk back to his vehicle. Ranger Burns then transported the family back to their car at the Wilmington Reservoir to return to their campsite at the North Pole campground.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On August 18 at 7:30 p.m., a 19-year-old woman left her residence in Old Forge for a five-mile run and did not return home when expected. At 10 p.m., the woman's parents called police and at midnight Forest Rangers were requested to assist searching all the area trails. Twelve Forest Rangers responded along with 24 New York State Police Officers from Patrol, Special Operations, K9, and Aviation, and six State Police Criminal Investigators. Also assisting were six Town of Webb Police Officers, more than 100 volunteers from the Inlet, Eagle Bay, Big Moose, and Old Forge fire departments, and area residents. Search teams found the subject the next day in Old Forge at approximately 10:30 a.m. The woman said she had been running on the Big Otter Trail in the HaDaRonDah Wilderness Area when she encountered two bear cubs. The mother chased the woman through the woods and the subject climbed a tree to escape. After darkness came, the bears seemed to have left, but the woman stayed in the tree until daylight and used the morning sun to navigate back to the trail and walk back to Old Forge where she was found by the search team.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
On August 20 at 2:30 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a lost hiker on Owls Head Mountain in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Temple, Scott, and DiCintio responded to the trailhead. With no coordinates from the dropped call, New York State Police Aviation was called in with Forest Ranger Praczkajlo to search the marshy areas where the subject was believed to be. Coordinates obtained through a 911 callback placed the hiker in a marshland just off the south side of the mountain. At 6:25 p.m., Dispatch was notified that the 69-year-old hiker from Baltimore, Maryland, had been located and reunited with her family.

Ranger sits with hiker on a helicopter in a field
Lost hiker assisted by Forest Ranger after being lost in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On August 20 at 6:10 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a father reporting his 13-year-old son was overdue from mountain biking on the Wilmington Trails in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Per Forest Ranger Lt. Kostoss, Forest Ranger LaPierre was requested to respond to check adjoining trailheads to see if she could locate the boy from Waterloo. At 6:30 p m., Forest Ranger LaPierre located the boy at the Wilmington Notch Campground and waited with him until his father arrived.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On August 22 at 11:37 a.m., DEC's Central Dispatch contacted Forest Ranger Fox regarding a 14-year-old hiker from Queens with a suspected leg injury on the yellow trail to Kaaterskill Falls. Forest Rangers Fox, Jackson, and Skudlarek responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers and EMS provided first aid, packaged up the hiker, and using technical rope systems, raised the hiker from the bottom of the falls. The hiker was then assisted out using a trail to 23A, reaching the road at 2:15 p.m. She was subsequently transported to a local hospital by Hunter Ambulance for further medical treatment.

Forest Rangers helping hiker down a rocky area in the woods
Injured teen hiker rescued and carried off the yellow trail to Kaaterskill Falls

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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