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For Release: Tuesday, October 20, 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 Oct. 14 at 10:22 p.m., Ulster County 911 contacted DEC's Central Office Dispatch with a report of an overdue hiker. The hiker's girlfriend contacted 911 stating he was overdue and unprepared for an overnight stay. Forest Rangers Slade and Martin responded, arriving at the Woodland Valley trailhead at 11:50 p.m. The Rangers hiked up the trail and made voice contact with the 28-year-old hiker from Hastings-on-Hudson at 3 a.m. The hiker was a quarter of a mile off the trail and about a half mile below the summit. The hiker stated that he lost daylight on his descent and planned on using a cell phone light to get out of the woods, but quickly lost the trail. He also fell over a five-foot ledge due to darkness, injuring his left knee. The hiker intended to spend the night in place and try to find the trail at first light. Rangers provided him with food, water, and a light source and escorted the hiker back down the trail, arriving at the trailhead at 5:15 a.m.

Village of Saranac Lake - Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 15 at 1:12 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a report of an overturned canoe in the Second Pond boat area on Lower Saranac Lake. One person was on shore and uncertain if her companion was still in the water or on shore looking for their dog. Forest Ranger Balerno and DEC Operations staff responded and confirmed the two subjects were out of the water looking for the dog. At 2:20 p.m., Forest Rangers Evans and Balerno located the couple from Oreland, Pennsylvania, and their dog, loaded the group onto a DEC boat, and returned them to their vehicle at the launch.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 15 at 3:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker advising that a member of their party injured their leg on Giant Mountain. The caller stated that they hiked down to get cell service and the injured party walked as far as they could. Forest Rangers LaPierre, Bode, and Mecus, along with Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Raudonis responded to the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead. At 4:55 p.m., AFR Raudonis advised that she was with the 62-year-old hiker from Cobleskill just above Roaring Brook Falls and they were making their way down the trail. The party was escorted back to the trailhead by AFR Raudonis and Ranger Mecus, where the hikers advised they would seek further medical treatment on their own.

Town of Windham
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 17 at 2:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Fox received a call from a hiker whose companion suffered an injury to her right ankle on the Escarpment Trail above the Elm Ridge lean-to. Forest Rangers Bink, Fox, and Skudlarek responded to assist. At 4 p.m., Ranger Fox located the 55-year-old hiker from Forest Hills. After wrapping the injured ankle, the group began the hike out of the woods where they were met by Rangers Bink and Skudlarek. The hiking party was out of the woods at 5:30 p.m., and advised they would seek additional medical attention on their own.

Town of Inlet
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 17 at 7:13 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from retired Forest Ranger Lee reporting that a friend contacted him about her 69-year-old sister and her 56-year-old niece who were lost on a trail near his home. The original caller stated she last heard from her sister around 7 p.m., with the text message, "We're lost." Forest Ranger Milano responded, checking sites at the Limekiln Lake Campground with negative results. Ranger Milano, with the assistance of former Ranger Lee, began patrolling the nearby ski trail while Ranger Temple began a trail sweep at a loop near the hikers' starting point. On Oct. 18 at 12:38 a.m., Ranger Milano advised that the hikers had been found; Ranger Temple responded to their location along with members of the Inlet Fire Department. Once out of the woods, the pair was given a ride home and the incident concluded at 2:02 a.m.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 18 at 6:35 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting two lost hikers off the OK Slip Falls trail. Coordinates provided by 911 placed the hikers about a quarter mile off the trail. Forest Ranger Kabrehl responded to assist. At 8:50 p.m., Ranger Kabrehl located the hikers and began escorting them out of the woods. At 9:40 p.m., Ranger Kabrehl and the two hikers were back to their vehicle.

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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