Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Tuesday, December 8, 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 Ohio
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On Dec. 2 at 7:21 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting an overdue hunter in the area of North Lake/Ice Cave Mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Murphy responded, along with Forest Rangers McCartney, Hanno, Candee, and Evans. Once on scene, Rangers spread out on key terrain and fired signal shots to see if the hunter would respond. The Rangers heard a shot in return, proceeded east into West Canada Lake Wilderness in the direction of the shot fired, and made voice contact with the 59-year-old hunter from Beaver Falls. At 2:14 a.m., Lt. Murphy advised that Rangers had located the subject cold, but otherwise in good condition, and were assisting him out of the woods. Earlier in the afternoon, the hunter's GPS died and with the heavy snowfall, he was unable to follow his own tracks and became lost about three miles from camp. The hunter was returned to his camp at North Lake at 3:47 a.m.

Town of Bleecker
Fulton County
Wilderness Search:
On Dec. 4 at 9 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a member of a hunting camp in the Sander Road area advising that a 45-year-old hunter from Scotia was overdue from an afternoon hunt. Forest Rangers Kerr and Miller responded to investigate and search the area. The Rangers searched throughout the night and located tracks and personal items left by the hunter but could not locate the subject. On Dec. 5 at first light, four additional Rangers arrived on scene and conducted searches of the thick, swampy forest. At 3:03 p.m., Forest Rangers located and recovered the hunter's body from the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the cause of death with support from DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the Fulton County Coroner's Office.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 5 at 11:15 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 31-year-old hiker from Nutley, New Jersey, who became disoriented while hiking Dix Mountain. Coordinates provided by Essex County 911 placed the hiker considerably off the trail and he was advised to stay where he was. The hiker indicated he was prepared with a small tent and warm clothing. Forest Rangers Evans, LaPierre, and Curcio entered the woods through the Round Pond trailhead and began making their way to the coordinates provided. Ray Brook and Essex County 911 Dispatch worked together to ping the hiker's phone to more accurately pinpoint his location. Since the hiker's cellphone battery was low, the subject was advised to shut off the phone and keep it warm, and only to check it periodically for messages from rescuers. Rangers located the hiker at 5:05 p.m. Once warmed after his extended exposure to subfreezing temperatures, the hiker was safely escorted back to his vehicle at 9:21 p.m.

Forest Ranger in the snowy woods poses for a picture
Ranger Curcio responding to Essex County rescue, her first in Region 5 since transferring to the Adirondacks

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.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Jeff Wernick
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions