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For Release: Tuesday, March 23, 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."

Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge
Ulster County
Prescribed Burn:
On Mar. 15, Region 3 Forest Rangers assisted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) with a prescribed burn at the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife refuge. The operation successfully burned 417 acres. Prescribed fire benefits include improvement of wildlife habitat by maintaining grasslands for nesting birds and improving wildlife habitat by maintaining a diverse forest environment. Additional benefits include reducing highly combustible fuel loads that could potentially feed a wildland fire, as well as the establishment and maintenance of fire breaks that improve control and access to wildland fires. Prescribed fires also represent a valuable training opportunity for local firefighters who develop skills needed to fight wildland fires. Before fires are conducted, careful consideration is given to environmental factors such as current and expected weather conditions and smoke management considerations in close coordination with the National Weather Service.

Forest Ranger on an ATV monitoring prescribed burn
Prescribed burn, Ulster County

Forest Ranger monitors burning grass during prescribed burn
Prescribed burn, Ulster County

Town of Italy
Yates County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 20 at 4:20 p.m., Forest Ranger Dormer was dispatched to a rescue in the High Tor Wildlife Management Area. A 20-year-old individual from Geneseo was hiking with friends and fell into the Parrish Gully. Ranger Dormer responded, along with DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Levanway and DEC Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) Lt. Didion. Once on scene, the Naples Fire Department and the Ontario County Ropes Rescue Team quickly located the subject and hoisted him out to a waiting UTV. The subject was brought to a roadside ambulance but refused transport to a local hospital, and instead sought additional treatment on his own.

City of Beacon
Dutchess County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 20 at 6 p.m., Forest Ranger Cowart overheard State Parks Dispatch reporting a hiker with a lower leg injury on a hiking trail in Hudson Highlands State Park. The hiker became disoriented on the trail network while hiking with a group of 16 visiting the park. Ranger Cowart and State Parks staff hiked in and located the 25-year-old subject from New York City approximately one mile in. The Ranger provided medical care for a lower leg injury, and with the assistance of the group, the hiker walked out to the trailhead. The individual refused further medical care and the group returned home.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 20 at 8:11 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance from Warren County 911 for a report of three 19-year-old hikers from Saratoga Springs lost on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. The reporting party stated the hikers had no light source and were cold. Forest Rangers St. Claire and Donegan responded to the trailhead and hiked into the woods, locating the lost group at 9:44 p.m. The hikers were in good condition and able to hike out on their own. All parties involved were cleared of the incident at 10:15 p.m.

Town of Salem
Washington County
Wildland Fire:
On Mar. 21 at 3:28 p.m., Forest Ranger Quinn responded to the town of Salem for a report of a brush fire. Fire crews had extinguished the fire by the time Ranger Quinn arrived, but after a brief investigation, the property owner was issued a ticket for setting forest lands on fire during the State's residential brush burning ban. Ranger Quinn was clear of the scene by 4 p.m. To reduce the number of spring brush fires, New York State's residential brush burning ban is in effect through May 14. For more information, go to DEC's website.

Town of Warrensburg
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 21 at 7:42 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Warren County 911 reporting a woman lost with her two horses on private property in the town of Warrensburg. The 22-year-old subject from Queensbury became lost when she left the trail to take a shortcut back to her starting point. At 9:16 p.m., Forest Ranger Savarie advised dispatch that the woman and her horses were located and safely escorted back to their barn. Ranger Savarie was clear from the scene shortly afterward.

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 NYS 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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