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For Release: Tuesday, April 6, 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 Maine, Broome County
Town of Fenner, Madison County
Wildland Fires:
On Mar. 30, Region 7 Forest Rangers responded to wildfires in the towns of Maine and Fenner to assist local fire departments with fire suppression efforts. In both cases, the cause of the fire was determined to be someone violating wildfire regulations. Due to dry conditions and high winds, the fires quickly burned out of control until the fire departments and Rangers arrived. Tickets were issued for the violations. 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 Bainbridge
Chenango County
Illegal Dumping on State Land:
On Mar. 31, Forest Ranger Oldroyd investigated a complaint about trash dumped in the South Hill State Forest. Ranger Oldroyd's investigation led him to an individual from Sidney, New York, who admitted the trash was his. The suspect was issued a ticket for depositing trash on State lands and was directed to clean it up.

large pile of debris and garbage dumped in the woods
Illegal Dumping in South Hill State Forest

Town of Greene
Chenango County
Airboat Training:
On Apr. 1, Region 7 Forest Rangers conducted swiftwater airboat operation training on the Chenango River. The annual training keeps the Rangers' qualifications current and increases proficiency. Forest Ranger airboats are utilized statewide for search and rescue missions.

Rocky Point State Forest
Illegal Dumping:
On Apr. 3 while one patrol, Forest Ranger Hicks observed a pickup truck and trailer disposing landscape debris from an adjacent shopping center into the Rocky Point State Forest. Ranger Hicks apprehended the subjects as they began to exit the parking lot, ordering the pair to clean up the debris. The subjects were charged with unlawfully disposing of waste on State Lands.

view from inside car looking out at someone dumping debris illegally
Illegal Dumping in Rocky Point State Forest

Town of Highland
Sullivan County
Wilderness Search:
On Apr. 3 at 3:15 p.m., Forest Ranger Allwine overheard Sullivan County 911 Dispatch calling for Fire/EMS/Police to respond to the scene of an ATV accident in the town of Highland. Dispatch stated the injured person was located approximately two miles into the woods. Ranger Allwine responded to the Excelsior Hunting Club where club members used an UTV to transport Ranger Allwine to the injured party. The 55-year-old woman from New Windsor had a compound fracture of her lower right leg. Ranger Allwine assisted EMS with a tourniquet, splinting, packaging, and transporting the subject to the UTV. Once out of the woods, the woman was flown via LifeNet helicopter to a local hospital. Ranger Allwine was clear of the scene at 5:15 p.m. Agencies assisting were New York State Police, Mobile Medic, American Legion EMS, and White Lake Fire Department.

Town of Vestal
Broome County
Wildland Search:
On Apr. 4 at 3:10 a.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from Broome County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance with locating a 19-year-old man from Vestal who had gone for a walk in a local park and hadn't returned home. Local police, fire, EMS, and the Broome County OEM had been searching for the subject since midnight. Forest Rangers Lunt, Burkholder, and Petit responded. Shortly after Ranger Lunt arrived, the man returned home on his own. He had lost his way in the dark and did not have a light source, so he spent the night in the woods. As morning approached, the subject was able to find his way out. The incident concluded at 8:30 a.m.

Town of Royalton
Niagara County
Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area
Wildland Fire:
On Apr. 4, at 2:30 p.m., Ranger Kennedy received a call from the local fire department at the scene of a grass fire behind the target range in the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area. Ranger Kennedy responded to assist with suppression and mapping the size of the fire. After cold trailing the edge, Ranger Kennedy determined the fire burned 8.9 acres of land. By 6:45 p.m., the fire was classified as in patrol status.

aerial view of grassland that has been burned in a wildfire
Grass fire at Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area

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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