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For Release: Tuesday, April 27, 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 Fires:
On April 19 at 6:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Chappell received a call from Onondaga County 911 Dispatch about a woman setting fires in several parking lots at the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Phoenix Fire Department responded and extinguished the fires. Ranger Chappell and Ranger Lieutenant Jackson also responded to the site to conduct a preliminary investigation and found the remnants of bonfires in the parking lots. Ranger Chappell interviewed witnesses and identified a possible subject. The following day, Ranger Chappell, along with Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Thomas, attempted to locate the suspect at home and were advised by the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office that its Officers had caught the subject back at the WMA tending another fire. Ranger Chappell and ECO Thomas responded and the individual was issued several tickets for a variety of DEC violations, including leaving a fire unattended, depositing trash on a WMA, and unlawful open burning.

Town of Sandy Creek
Oswego County
Wildland Search:
On April 21 at 12:50 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from the New York State Police (NYSP) requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a search for a missing 12-year-old in the town of Sandy Creek. Forest Rangers Chappell, Virkler, and ECO Brown responded to assist. After almost three hours of searching, the child was located in the woods by a NYSP Trooper and NYSP K9 Rudd. This successful search is the result of great teamwork by NYSP, Forest Rangers, ECOs, State Park Police, Oswego County Sheriff's Deputies, Oswego County Search and Rescue, Sandy Creek Fire Department, and NOCA Ambulance.

ECOs and NYSP with K9 pose for a photo behind ambulance
Successful Search for missing child in Sandy Creek

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 24 at 12:15 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Warren County 911 reporting a 51-year-old woman from Malta with an ankle injury was approximately one mile up the Buck Mountain Trail. Forest Ranger Baker responded along with Pilot Knob Fire and EMS. Once on scene, Ranger Baker assisted with the carryout of the hiker to the trailhead where she was transferred to EMS and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Binghamton
Broome County
Wildland Fire:
On April 24 at 8:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Oldroyd responded to a wildfire in the town of Binghamton. The fire spread to heavy log slash (coarse and fine woody debris generated during logging). Ranger Oldroyd determined that debris burning was the cause of the fire, explained New York's open burning regulations to the individual responsible for starting the fire, and issued a ticket for illegal burning. The Binghamton Fire Department suppressed the fire and declared the fire out at 9:25 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 Albion
Oswego County
Party/Unattended Fire:
On April 24, Region 7 Forest Rangers received a complaint about a large party in the Happy Valley WMA. Forest Ranger Chappell responded and documented a large amount of trash and an unattended bonfire. The following day, Rangers received a complaint about another overnight party at the same location. Ranger Chappell responded and found an individual still present at the site, along with several cars partially blocking the roadway. The individual was instructed to clean up the trash and the vehicles on the road were towed at the owners' expense. DEC's investigation is ongoing.

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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