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For Release: Tuesday, December 15, 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 Arietta
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 12 at 11:25 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified via radio by Forest Ranger Milano about a 60-year-old hunter from Long Lake who had fallen out of a tree stand. While on routine patrol in Sargent Ponds Wilderness Area, Ranger Milano noticed a truck parked at the end of North Point Road and saw an injured man crouched next to his vehicle waving frantically. The Forest Ranger had recently transferred into the Long Lake area and was in the right place at the right time -- North Point Road is a dead-end road with no cell phone coverage and the hunter had not informed anyone he was going into the woods. Ranger Milano called dispatch to request an ambulance and administered medical care while waiting for the Long Lake Rescue Squad. Once the ambulance arrived, the hunter was transported to a local hospital for additional medical care. DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Buswell and Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigators (BECI) Unit were notified to investigate as a possible elevated hunting incident.

DEC reminds hunters that one of the basics of hunter safety is to let someone know where you will be hunting and when you will return. A map showing tree stand locations makes it easier for others to find hunters if they do not return on time. For more hunter safety information, go to DEC's website.

Tree stand in the woods that has fallen down from the side of a tree
Fallen tree stand in Sargent Ponds Wilderness Area

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 13 at 2:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers on the Baxter Mountain trail, reporting a hiker with a lower leg injury. Forest Rangers van Laer and Lewis responded to assist. Once on scene, Ranger Lewis located the injured hiker and stabilized the injury. Forest Rangers Bode, Lewis, Burns, and van Laer proceeded to carry out the 48-year-old woman from New Russia to the Route 9 trailhead where she was transferred to the Keene Rescue Squad to be transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. The incident concluded at 5 p.m.

Town of Watson
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 13 at 4:40 p.m., Lewis County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance to locate two lost teenage hikers from Felts Mills in the Independence River Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Hanno, McCartney, and Hoag responded, along with a Lewis County Sheriff's Deputy, two New York State Police Troopers, and five members of the Felts Mills Fire Department. At 8:47 p.m., a search crew located the lost hikers, cold but otherwise unharmed, 3.5 miles from the trailhead. The lost teens were escorted back to the trailhead and released to their parents at 11:23 p.m.

Town of Southampton
Suffolk County
Law Enforcement Detail:
On Dec. 13, Forest Ranger Hicks participated in a multi-agency Suffolk County Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council ATV detail. The detail included DEC Forest Rangers, New York State Park Police, New York State Police, Suffolk County Park Rangers, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, and Town of Southampton Police Department. During the detail, the Suffolk County Sherriff's Office Aviation Unit spotted a group of 10 illegal ATV/dirt bike riders headed into the David A. Sarnoff Preserve. Ranger Hicks and five Suffolk County Park Rangers responded to the area and apprehended eight of the illegal operators. All vehicles were impounded, and operators were issued summonses for operating ATVs on public land in the county of Suffolk.

Truck with trailer attached that has a few ATVs inside
Suffolk County Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council ATV Detail

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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