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For Release: Wednesday, February 17, 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."

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 7 at 12:04 p.m., DEC Forest Rangers Hoag, Hanno, and McCartney immediately responded to radio reports from Herkimer County 911 regarding a snowmobile crash on the C7 trail, approximately 1.5 miles south of the hamlet of Thendara. Three Rangers on snowmobile patrol in the area were the first to arrive at the scene where they found two snowmobilers down an embankment with lower leg injuries. The Rangers quickly administered first aid to the 17-year-old man from Kirkville and 17-year-old woman from Woodgate. Old Forge Fire and EMS personnel also responded and assisted in providing additional medical care and packaging the injured snowmobilers for transport by rescue sleds to waiting ambulances at nearby trailheads. The subjects were then taken to a local hospital for further medical treatment. Town of Webb Police Department and New York State Police are investigating the accident.

Town of Keene, Sentinel Wilderness Area
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 14 at 2:00 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a 32-year-old woman from Brooklyn, who had suffered an injury while skiing the Jackrabbit Ski Trail. Forest Ranger Acting Lt. Burns and Forest Ranger Evans responded to assist. Once on scene, Acting Lt. Burns skied to the woman's location, assessed her injury, and proceeded to splint her unstable knee. Ranger Evans arrived via snowmobile and transported the subject out of the woods. The woman declined additional medical treatment stating she would seek help on her own. Rangers were clear of the incident at 4:15 p.m.

Lewey Lake
Hamilton County
Public Service:
On Feb. 14, Forest Rangers Temple and Thompson were on snowmobile patrol in the Jessup River Wild Forest. While on patrol crossing Lewey Lake, the Rangers observed two abandoned snowmobiles that appeared to be broken down and stuck on the ice. The Rangers took the information from the snowmobile's registration stickers and did a cursory search of the area looking for any signs of the snowmobile operators. With no signs of anyone in distress and the snowmobiles frozen in the surface slush of the lake, the Rangers continued their patrol and attempted to locate the operators through other means. On Feb. 15, Forest Rangers Thompson and Nally again patrolled the area and observed three individuals in a UTV attempting to recover the snowmobiles. The Rangers interviewed the group and learned that one of the snowmobiles broke down and was being towed out by the second when it began to have mechanical issues causing both sleds to get stuck. Prior to the Rangers' arrival, the group attempted to remove the snowmobiles without proper equipment and got their UTV stuck in the surface slush, as well. Rangers proceeded to Moffitt Beach campground to gather equipment and returned, freeing all three machines from the slush. The Rangers then escorted the group off the ice. Due to one of the snowmobiles not being registered, the operator was issued a summons returnable to the Lake Pleasant Court.

Snowmobile on a very icy and snowy lake with mountains in the background
Snowmobile Stuck in Lewey Lake

Town of Bethlehem
Albany County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 15, Forest Ranger Mitchell was patrolling the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center when he responded to a 911 call for an injured skier on the Red Trail on the Center's property. Ranger Mitchell located the injured skier 0.5 miles from the trailhead. The 61-year-old woman from Delmar was cross country skiing when she fell, injuring her upper leg. Ranger Mitchell provided first aid and directed two other Rangers to their location. The Rangers proceeded to warm the woman and packaged her into a litter to be driven out on a fire department's UTV. The subject was then transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment.

New York State DEC staff continue to serve in leadership roles at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the state. For information about efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers and to check eligibility for vaccinations, go to New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 vaccination website.

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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