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For Release: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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.

"During New York's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are enjoying the outdoors than ever before and our Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help people get outside responsibly and get home safely," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Rangers' knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to white water rivers, and throughout our vast forests statewide."

Town of Cortlandt
Westchester County
Wilderness Search:
On Dec. 29, 2020 at 6 p.m., a New York State Police Investigator contacted Forest Ranger Lt. Ashida for assistance locating a missing person. The individual was last seen fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident in the town of Cortlandt on Dec. 15, 2020. At 11 a.m. on Dec. 30, Lt. Ashida and Forest Ranger Pries organized a search effort along with New York State Police and the Peekskill Police Department, conducting a type 1 search along Sprout Brook Road south of where the accident occurred. A gray hooded sweatshirt that fit the description of what the man was wearing was found approximately 100 yards south of the accident site, just above the water line of Sprout Brook. After several days of searching, on Jan. 4, the missing man was located deceased in a stream about 3/4 of a mile from the accident scene. The incident is being investigated by Peekskill and State police.

Town of Dresden
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 9 at 5:16 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 28-year-old hiker from Ballston Spa who became disoriented and lost the trail while hiking Erebus Mountain. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Ranger Hess entered the Lake George Wild Forest at the end of Shelving Rock Road while Rangers Donegan and St. Claire entered by boat from the Green Island Maintenance Center. At 9:30 p.m., Rangers located the lost hiker and proceeded to warm her and assess her injuries. The hiker was safely escorted down to the boat for transport back to the maintenance center and given a courtesy ride back to her vehicle at the trailhead. Rangers were cleared of the scene and back in service at 10:55 p.m.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

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