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For Release: Tuesday, May 4, 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 Rush
Monroe County
Prescribed Fire:
On April 26, Forest Rangers from Regions 8 and 9, with the help of DEC Wildlife and Forestry staff, conducted a prescribed fire at the Rush Oak Openings Unique Area. The property is a mosaic of mature oak trees and warm season native grasses that provide good habitat for wildlife. The prescribed fire was approximately 70 acres in size and will improve habitat and keep invasive plants at bay. This prescribed fire was the last in a series of carefully planned and implemented fires designed to help DEC land managers accomplish specific objectives. Forest Rangers, DEC staff, and volunteers collectively accomplished the most successful prescribed fire season since DEC began using carefully managed prescribed fires as a tool to manage habitat on DEC lands in Region 8.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On April 30 at 10:57 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance in locating a 66-year-old man from Erieville. The man's vehicle was located by family and New York State Police at his camp earlier in the day, but the subject was nowhere to be found. Forest Rangers, along New York State Police using a drone, State Police K-9, Town of Webb Police Department, and Herkimer County agencies, searched the area during the night with negative results. At 9 a.m. on May 1, a State Police K-9 search team located the missing man near West Pond, a short distance from his camp. The subject had suffered an injury and was extremely cold. Search personnel immediately warmed and fed the man before transporting him out to Old Forge Ambulance where he was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On May 1 at 2 a.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from New York State Police requesting Forest Ranger assistance to search for a missing individual. State Police had located the missing subject's vehicle at the Laurel House parking lot. Forest Rangers Fox, Bink, Gullen, Martin, Mitchell, Petit, and Slade responded, along with New York State Police K-9s and Greene County Sheriff's Deputies. Forest Ranger Slade searched from the air in a State Police helicopter, while Ranger Martin used a drone to cover other dangerous terrain. Rangers located items believed to belong to the subject, which served to focus the search to a specific location. Divers from the Sheriff's Office and State Police located the subject, a 36-year-old from Yonkers, deceased in one of the Kaatterskill waterbodies. Haines Falls and Tannersville fire departments assisted in the carry-out to the trailhead where the subject was released to the Greene County Coroner.

Town of Bleeker
Fulton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 1 at 2:21 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office reporting a hiker with a possible femur fracture on the County Line Lake Trail in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Thompson, Nally, and Kerr responded, along with the Caroga Lake Fire Department. The 37-year-old hiker from Gloversville was located approximately one mile up the trail by Ranger Kerr and fire department personnel. After providing medical care, Rangers Thompson and Nally coordinated with rescuers to package the hiker for extrication, utilizing a stokes litter and a six-wheel ATV. The hiker was transported to the trailhead and turned over to ambulance personnel for transportation to a local hospital for additional medical care.

Town of Alma
Allegany County
Wilderness Search and Rescue:
On May 2 at 8:40 p.m. Forest Rangers Thaine and Krulish responded to a search for a missing 75-year-old man from the town of Alma. The subject had gone for an ATV ride and was three hours overdue. New York State Police responded along with Alma, Wellsville, Allentown, and Willing fire departments, Wellsville Rescue, and Allegany County Sheriff's Deputies. Forest Rangers established an Incident Command Post and began search assignments. Using an Allegany County Sheriff's drone to survey the area, the responders spotted the man and a team in the field quickly deployed to the subject's location. The missing man was involved in an ATV accident but suffered no significant injuries. However, the ATV caught fire and started a small surface fire that the responders were able to quickly suppress. The subject was assessed and returned home. Rangers cleared the scene by 1:30 a.m.

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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