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For Release: Tuesday, April 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."

Town of Lysander
Onondaga County
Illegal Dumping on State Land:
While patrolling on April 7, Forest Ranger Chappell found two old toilets and some other trash dumped at the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. Ranger Chappell's investigation led him to an individual from Baldwinsville who admitted to dumping the trash. The suspect was issued a ticket for depositing trash on State lands and directed to clean it up.

Box in the woods with a broken toilet inside
Illegal Dumping at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Town of Dannemora
Clinton County
Law Enforcement Action:
On April 16 at 12 p.m., Forest Ranger Booth overheard New York State Police emergency radio traffic advising of a domestic situation involving a loaded firearm. Ranger Booth responded to the location, and once on scene, quickly sized up the situation. From a position of cover, the Ranger encouraged the male subject, who had access to a loaded firearm, to calmy come outside. After complying with Ranger Booth's request, the unarmed subject was taken into custody and turned over to the State Police.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 17 at 3:15 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch Center received a call regarding a hiker with a possible broken ankle on Blake Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. After consulting with Forest Ranger Captain Kostoss and based on the injury, location, and amount of daylight left, Forest Rangers Praczkajlo and Lewis requested New York State Police Aviation assistance to conduct a helicopter hoist operation. With Ranger Balerno as Crew Chief, Rangers O'Connor and Lewis were inserted near the summit of the mountain. From there, the Rangers quickly located the 61-year-old subject from Johnstown. The woman was safely hoisted out and flown to a local hospital for medical treatment. Rangers then escorted the remaining members of the hiking party out of the wilderness. All Rangers and hikers were clear of the incident at 8:30 p.m.

View through trees looking up at hovering helicopter
Hoist Rescue on Blake Mountain

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 17 at 4 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch was contacted by Ulster County 911 regarding an injured hiker in the Beaverkill Valley area of the Balsam Lake Wild Forest. The caller's hiking companion had broken their ankle while descending Balsam Lake Mountain. Forest Ranger Martin arrived on scene at 4:50 p.m., and assisted EMS with administering first aid and packaging the 50-year-old man from Chester. The hiker was evacuated to the trailhead via UTV and transferred to an ambulance that delivered him to a local hospital at 7:30 p.m.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 17 at 7:20 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from two lost hikers in the Tongue Mountain Range. The pair was concerned about becoming lost in the woods after dark. The hikers were still on the trail, 3.5 miles from the nearest trailhead, and an additional five miles away from their vehicle. The hikers were encouraged to continue making their way out of the woods. About an hour later, the hikers called back as one of them was having a panic attack, fearful that their cell lights wouldn't last much longer. Forest Ranger Kabrehl responded to assist the 26-year-old women from Montgomery, NY, and Oradell, NJ. By 10:14 p.m., Ranger Kabrehl and the hikers were out of the woods.

Town of Lyonsdale
Lewis County
Wilderness Search:
On April 18 at 8:34 a.m., Acting Forest Ranger Lt. Hoag received a call from DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch advising of a request from Lewis County 911 for assistance with a missing 39-year-old man from Pittsburgh, PA, in the Fowlersville area, along the Moose River. The camper missed a planned meeting with a relative on April 17, and had not been heard from since April 13. Forest Ranger Snyder responded to the scene and met with Lewis County Sheriff's Deputies, New York State Police, and family members. Forest Rangers Hanno and Evans also responded to aid in the search, along with Forest Ranger Baldwin with a drone. Further investigation determined the man had sustained an arm injury on April 14, and he evacuated to a nearby road where he was transported to a local hospital by a passing motorist. All units were clear of the scene by 12:35 p.m.

New Yorkers are reminded that in an effort 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.

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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