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For Release: Wednesday, January 20, 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 2020, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 492 search and rescue missions, extinguished 192 wildfires that burned a total of more than 1,122 acres, participated in eight prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate more than 203 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 3,131 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."

Javits Center - Manhattan
New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Center:
On Jan. 5, Forest Rangers were deployed to support the State's effort establishing a vaccination center at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan. Four DEC Forest Rangers were assigned with the mission of helping to meld the Department of Military and Naval Affair's military command structure with their civilian counterparts in the Department of Health into a Unified Command Team using the Incident Command System (ICS). Rangers assumed roles as Deputy Incident Commander, Deputy Logistics Chief, Deputy Operations Chief, and Plans Chief. The Unified Command Team is responsible for the construction and design of the site, as well as the training, assigning, supervision, and logistical support of nearly 650 staff on site.

The ICS put in place and reinforced by the Forest Ranger contingent supports the Unified Team's success in the long-term mission of vaccinating New Yorkers. Additional agencies assisting with the Javits Center Vaccination Site are the State Department of Homeland Security, Office of Information Technology Services, Department of Transportation, New York State Police, and New York City Police Department.

Forest Ranger at vaccination site sits speaking to other staff
Jacob K. Javits Center Mass Vaccination Site

Forest Rangers and other staff stand and listen at vaccination site
Jacob K. Javits Center Mass Vaccination Site

Forest Ranger stands on balcony overlooking vaccination site below.
Jacob K. Javits Center Mass Vaccination Site

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 12 at 6 p.m., DEC's Central Office Dispatch received a call from Greene County 911 regarding two lost hikers on Layman's Monument Trail near Kaaterskill Falls. After notification, Forest Ranger Fox contacted the hikers on their cellphone and ascertained their location and condition. The hikers from New York City informed Ranger Fox they were at Layman's Monument on the Escarpment Trail with no injuries, but needed assistance hiking out due to darkness and icy trail conditions. Ranger Fox and Acting Lt. Breigle responded to the trailhead, along with the Hunter Police Department. Rangers located the hikers a mile in on the Escarpment Trail and provided them with hand/feet warmers, head lamps, and micro spikes. The group then proceeded to hike back out to the Lauren House Road trailhead and Rangers were clear of the scene at 8:20 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 18 at 8:57 a.m., Forest Ranger Acting Lt. Burns was notified of a hiker with a possible hip dislocation on Cobble Hill in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers evaluated the 52-year-old woman from Lake Placid. After placing her in a vacuum splint, the Rangers packaged the subject into a litter and sled. The hiker was brought to the trailhead and transferred to the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service for additional medical treatment. All Rangers were back in service 10:24 a.m.

Forest Rangers wrap up injured hiker on a snowy trail
Wilderness Rescue in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest

Forest Rangers carry injured hiker down a snowy trail
Wilderness Rescue in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest

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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