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For Release: Tuesday, June 8, 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 Cattaraugus
Cattaraugus County
Wildland Fire:
On June 2 at 2 p.m., Forest Ranger Rogers responded to a wildland fire at an old log mill site. Fire personnel and equipment from Cattaraugus, Little Valley, Leon, Conewango, East Randolph, and Randolph fire departments also responded to assist. The one-acre fire, which burned old mill slabs and brush, is currently under investigation.

Forest Ranger walks through charred remains of wildland fire
Ranger Rogers Checks for Hot Spots After Wildland Fire in Cattaraugus

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
On June 3 at 6:05 p.m., Forest Ranger Morehouse received a call from staff at the Wanakena Ranger School reporting a student lost in the woods. Two Forest Rangers responded to assist Ranger School staff who were able to locate the missing 30-year-old student from Marcellus by using cell phone coordinates. Rangers helped her use her compass to find her way out of the woods and the incident concluded by 8 p.m.

Town of Cairo
Greene County
Swiftwater Rescue Training:
On June 3, Region 4 Forest Rangers and Assistant Forest Rangers participated in swiftwater rescue training on the Catskill Creek. Rangers learned about self-rescue swimming, wading with belay assist, go-rescue, and "throw bag" techniques.

Forest Rangers standing in creek as they practice training
Swiftwater Rescue Training on Catskill Creek

Forest Rangers watch and participate as they pull eachother in from the creek during training
Swiftwater Rescue Training on Catskill Creek

Forest Rangers in creek with ropes practicing training
Swiftwater Rescue Training on Catskill Creek

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On June 4 at 1:06 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a 20-year-old man from Penfield overdue from a hiking trip in the Lake Placid Region. Per Forest Ranger Acting Lt Balerno, Rangers began searching trailheads in the High Peaks for the man's vehicle. At 1:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Evans found the vehicle at the Adirondak Loj parking lot with no itinerary in the register book. After speaking to the reporting party further, Ranger Evans determined he was hiking Mount Marcy. Five Forest Rangers and Assistant Forest Rangers, along with two caretakers, responded to the location to assist with the search. New York State Police Aviation with a Forest Ranger on board performed two flights over the area with negative results. At 9:25 p.m., the missing hiker was located a quarter mile up the trail from the Panther Gorge lean-to. Forest Ranger Scott advised they would spend the night in the lean-to and head out the following morning. On June 5, Ranger Scott and the hiker walked out to the Elk Lake trailhead. Ranger Evans then transported the man back to North Elba where he was reunited with his family. All resources were cleared from the scene at 2:15 p.m.

Town of Hunter/ Kaaterskill Falls
Greene County
Wildland Rescue:
On June 5 at 1:45 p.m., Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) France located a 49-year-old woman from Queens feeling lightheaded near the middle pool of Kaaterskill Falls. Forest Ranger Lt. Pachan, who was at the top of the falls, responded and gave the woman an electrolyte water mix and some glucose gel packets to help with hydration and energy during the 90-degree heat. The woman was able to continue walking out under her own power for a short distance but continued to feel weak and lightheaded. Forest Ranger Jackson and AFR Lasselle responded to assist, along with Tannersville Rescue, Haines Falls Fire Department, Hunter EMTs, and a Greene County Paramedic. The woman was packaged in a litter with a rescue wheel system, given an IV for dehydration, and carried the remaining 0.3 miles to a staged ambulance at the trailhead. The woman was transported by Hunter Ambulance to a local hospital for additional treatment. All resources were cleared from the scene at 3:30 p.m.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 5 at 4:58 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of four hikers on the Whiteface Mountain trail reporting that a 23-year-old female hiker in their party suffered a knee injury approximately one mile from the summit. The injured woman from Buffalo was able to bear some weight on the knee and the group was advised by Forest Ranger Lt. Kallen, via dispatch, to continue to the summit for extraction by vehicle. Forest Ranger Curcio responded by driving up the Whiteface toll road to the summit. Once on scene, Ranger Curcio hiked down to the group and splinted the injured party's knee. She also supplied the hikers with headlamps and additional clothing before assisting them to the summit. The group reached Ranger Curcio's vehicle at 10:46 p.m., where they were later driven down the toll road and then assisted by a New York State Police patrol unit in getting back to their vehicle. The incident concluded at 12:20 a.m.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Missing Person:
On June 5 at 5:16 p.m., Forest Ranger Quinn advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch that a vehicle belonging to a missing 80-year-old man from Clifton Park was located by State Police on Route 9 in the town of North Hudson. Witnesses in the area stated the car was parked at that location since 5:30 that morning. Ranger Quinn and State Police searched the wooded area near the man's truck as well as the banks of the Schroon River with negative results. A passing New York State Police unit found the missing man when he exited the woods and stepped out onto a highway in the area of the Sharps Bridge Campground approximately 4.5 miles north of his vehicle. The man was then transported back to the Schroon Lake Barracks to reunite with a family member.

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 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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