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For Release: Tuesday, March 9, 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 Plattsburgh
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 1 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger assistance was requested by DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) LaCroix and the Cumberland Head Fire Department for two anglers stranded on a floating ice sheet on Lake Champlain. Fire department personnel accessed the men from Plattsburgh with an inflatable rescue craft and brought one of the subjects safely to shore. When Forest Rangers arrived on scene, two fire department personnel and the second angler and his gear were still on the ice sheet. ECOs and Rangers launched the airboat and Ranger Bronson was able to retrieve all parties and gear from the ice and bring them back to shore.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 5, Greene County 911 received a call for a 27-year-old hiker from Queens who had fallen on the ice at Kaaterskill Falls. According to the caller, the injured woman and her friend went for a hike at the falls and were attempting to hike from the top to the bottom of the stone staircase, which was covered in ice, creating a steep, slippery surface. The woman was wearing micro spikes but lost hold and slid approximately 100 feet to the bottom. Three Forest Rangers responded from North South Lake field station. Two of the Rangers hiked in and located the injured woman, administered first aid, and rewarmed her with the assistance of a Greene County paramedic. Once the hiker began to feel better, rescuers and Rangers assisted her back to the Route 23A trailhead where she was transported to a local hospital for additional medical treatment.

Town of Brookfield, Beaver Creek State Forest
Madison County
Stranded Vehicle:
On Mar. 6, Forest Ranger Virkler responded to assist two individuals from the Utica area whose vehicle became stuck during their camping trip. According to the vehicle operator, he had followed other vehicle tracks into the forest on an unplowed road. When road conditions got worse, the subject attempted to turn around, but the vehicle became stuck almost a mile from the plowed portion of the roadway. Ranger Virkler assisted the vehicle operator and found someone with the proper equipment to pull the vehicle out of the snow.

Town of Georgetown
Madison County
Snowmobile Accident:
On March 6 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger Virkler responded to a personal injury snowmobile accident in which three people were injured. Once on scene, the Forest Ranger reported that the injured snowmobilers had been transported to a local hospital and the Ranger was assisting with getting the snowmobiles and the uninjured members of the group off the trail. The Ranger was assisted by members of the New York State Police, Madison County Sheriff's Office, and Georgetown Fire Department and EMS.

Town of Brighton
Franklin County
Snowmobile Accident:
On Mar. 7 at 5:22 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Franklin County 911 advising of a snowmobile accident on the C7 snowmobile trail in the town of Brighton. The snowmobile operator appeared to have struck a power pole. Forest Rangers O'Connor, Milano, Lt. Burns, and DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Cranker responded to the scene, along with Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths-Gabriels fire departments. The 33-year-old subject from Altona was packaged by EMS responders and transported approximately two miles to Route 86 in Gabriels, where Forest Rangers established a landing zone for New York State Police Aviation. The snowmobiler was transferred to North Country Life Flight Medics for air transport to a hospital in Vermont. Rangers and ECOs were cleared of the scene at 7:30 p.m. and State Police is investigating the incident.

Ambulance and emergency response personnel at snowy night snowmobile accident
Town of Brighton snowmobile accident response

Town of Duane, Debar Wild Forest
Franklin County
Stranded Vehicle:
On Mar. 7 at 7:06 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request from New York State Police for assistance locating a vehicle reported stuck on a remote snowmobile trail. Forest Rangers Milano and O'Connor responded with snowmobiles to conduct a search for the vehicle and occupants. Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Cranker assisted with communications. At 10:03 p.m., Rangers located the 59-year-old couple from Peru, NY, and their vehicle further down the snowmobile trail. At 10:33 p.m., Rangers and the couple were out of the woods and the vehicle owner made arrangements to have the vehicle removed.

New York State DEC staff also 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 Vaccine 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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