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For Release: Tuesday, May 18, 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."

Towns of Coeymans and Berne
Albany County
Prescribed Fire and Wildfire:
On May 13, DEC Forest Rangers conducted a 15.2-acre prescribed burn on the Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area. DEC Forest Ranger DiCintio, under the supervision of Forest Ranger Carpenter, along with Region 4 Forest Rangers, DEC Division of Wildlife personnel, Albany Pine Bush staff, volunteers, and the Coeymans Hollow Fire Department, successfully conducted the burn. Prescription burning on this wildlife management area reduces undesirable shade vegetative species while promoting desirable pine pitch, oak, and blueberry vegetation. The vegetation provides cover and food to wildlife including songbirds, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, whitetail deer, and eastern cottontail rabbits. While nearing completion of mop-up, Forest Ranger Mitchell received a call regarding an active wildfire at the Cole Hill State Forest. While other staff continued mop-up, Forest Rangers Gullen, Jackson, and Mitchell responded with fire engines to suppress the one-acre wildfire. Forest Ranger wildfire investigators determined the fire was caused by target shooting in the area. Also responding to the wildfire were fire departments from Berne, East Berne, Westerlo, Knox, Onesquethaw, Rensselaerville, Huntersland, New Salem, Guilderland Center, and North Bethlehem.

Forest Ranger walks through woods patrolling fire
Prescribed burn at Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area

Forest Rangers in woods monitoring prescribed fire
Prescribed burn at Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area

Forest Rangers use hose to fill up fire truck with water
Forest Rangers refilling engine before responding to wildfire at Cole Hill State Forest

Town of Ossian
Livingston County
Helicopter Ground School:
On May 13, Forest Rangers from Regions 8 and 9 participated in a biannual helicopter ground school. The training took place at Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area and covered aviation safety, emergency procedures, patient packaging, and hoist rescue operations.

Helicopter flying over field with Forest Rangers below
Forest Rangers participate in helicopter ground school

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wildland Fire:
On May 14 at 11:52 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by Hamilton County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a wildfire off of Starbuck Road in the town of Indian Lake. Forest Rangers Lomnitzer, Temple, Miller, and Scott responded to assist. Over the course of several hours, Forest Rangers worked with the responding volunteer fire departments to suppress and control the fire. After approximately seven acres burned, the fire was placed in patrol status later in the evening. The fire was patrolled and monitored for several days before being declared out. The cause of the fire was traced back to an illegal debris burn by a nearby homeowner. The individual was issued several tickets for illegal burning and related charges.

Town of Andes
Delaware County
On May 14 at 4:10 p.m., Delaware County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance for a brush fire approximately 3/4 of a mile into the woods off of Butler Road in the town of Andes. Members of the Andes Fire Department used a UTV with a water pumper and had the fire suppressed when Forest Rangers Bink and Seeley arrived. Rangers assisted with the suppression and mop up, which was time consuming due to several downed and dead trees that ignited during the fire. Approximately .2 of the one-acre fire crept onto Delaware Wild Forest Preserve land. Investigators determined that ATV/hunter activity is the possible cause. The fire was put into patrol status overnight and declared out on May 15.

Tree after brush fire, charred at the bottom
Brush fire in town of Andes

path through the woods after a brush fire, charred on both sides
Brush Fire in Town of Andes

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wildland Search:
On May 14 at 8:46 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from New Jersey two hikers on Buck Mountain without reliable light sources. The pair advised they were still on the trail, but concerned their cell phone lights would not last until they got back to the trailhead. Forest Ranger Poulton arrived on scene at 9:29 p.m., walked up the trail, and located the hikers immediately. The Ranger escorted the pair back to the trailhead and the incident concluded at 9:45 p.m.

Town of Horicon
Warren County
Wildland Fire:
On May 15 at 4:05 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by Warren County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a fire off Shaw Hill Road in the town of Horicon. Forest Rangers Saverie, Kabrehl, and Donegan responded to assist. Over the course of several hours, Forest Rangers worked with the responding volunteer fire departments to suppress and control the fire. After approximately four acres burned, the fire was placed in patrol status later that evening. The fire is currently in patrol status and is being monitored daily by Forest Rangers.

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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