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For Release: Tuesday, June 29, 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."

Village of Voorheesville
Albany County
Cave Rescue Training:
From June 11 to 19, Forest Ranger Gullen participated in training offered by the National Cave Rescue Commission. Training participants included both rescue professionals and recreational cavers who worked together to learn and apply the best practices of cave rescue and how to handle the unique challenges found in the cave environment. Participants that completed the course are now certified as Level 1 Cave Rescue Technicians.

Person in cave with orange helmet on
Cave rescue training

person in cave with orange helmet giving directions to others
Cave rescue training

pair of feet sticking out of a narrow cave
Cave rescue training

Town of Lake Pleasant
Hamilton County
Storm Damage Response:
On June 21, Forest Rangers Nally, Thompson, and Kerr responded to a call for Forest Ranger assistance from the caretaker at Moffitt Beach State Campground. The caretaker reported several impassable roadways, downed trees and phone lines, and power outages in the area. Rangers helped clear storm damage in and around the campground and assisted local fire departments, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, and highway officials with localized storm impacts. Rangers, working through Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Dispatch, also responded to 911 calls, supplementing local resources. Rangers checked on campers at undeveloped and isolated State Land campsites in areas without cell service. On Powley Road in the town of Stratford, Ranger Thompson discovered the road impassable. The Ranger began cutting his way down the road where he made contact and assisted stranded campers.

Large tree broken at the base of the trunk that has fallen onto an RV
Hamilton County storm damage

Side angle view of fallen tree on RV
Hamilton County storm damage

Town of Keene
Essex County
State Land Violations:
On June 23 at 12 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a ground fire at an illegal campsite near the Wash Bowl in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area. Forest Ranger Evans and Assistant Ranger Raudonis responded to the scene and put out the small ground fire. Later that evening, Forest Ranger Mecus identified two subjects from Otego as the subjects responsible for the illegal campsite, and the Ranger issued six tickets for multiple State Land violations.

Town of Lido Beach
Nassau County
Cub Scout Event:
On June 23 at 6:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Scott and Hicks attended a Cub Scout event at Mushroom Park in Lido Beach. The event was designed to expose local scouts to all the police and fire departments in the area. The event featured 12 police and fire departments, as well as Region 1 Forest Rangers, and was attended by more than 100 scouts. The Rangers were a huge hit, as they were accompanied by a Type 4 Fire Engine, ATV, UTV, and Smokey Bear. This event brought attention to the Forest Ranger profession and smiles to the attending kids and adults.

Forest Rangers and Smokey Bear pose for group photo
Forest Rangers and Smokey Bear at Nassau County cub scout event

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 23 at 9 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting his companion was experiencing dehydration on the summit of Mount Marcy. Forest Rangers Evans and Praczkajlo located the hikers at 12:33 a.m. After conducting an assessment and giving the pair food, the Rangers assisted the hikers from Geneseo and Rochester to the trailhead at the Adirondak Loj, arriving at 5:12 a.m.

Town of Root
Montgomery County
Search for Missing Child:
On June 24 at 12 p.m., DEC Dispatch received a call from Montgomery County 911 requesting DEC assistance in locating a missing two-year-old boy. The boy was playing with his twin brother and a puppy in the yard when the mother noticed he was missing. Forest Rangers and DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) responded to the scene to assist the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. Numerous agencies assisted in the search, including New York State Police, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and Schoharie County Search and Rescue Team, as well as several area fire departments, EMS providers, and more than 100 volunteers. At approximately 3:40 p.m., one of the volunteer search crews, led by an ECO, located the missing boy and the dog in a thick wooded area several hundred yards behind the family's home. The boy was carried out of the woods and reunited with his family. All resources cleared the scene at 5 p.m.

ECO holds young boy after search
ECO and boy following successful search

Town of Hadley
Saratoga County
Swiftwater Rescue Training:
On June 24, Forest Rangers from Regions 4 and 5 participated in swiftwater rescue training on the Sacandaga River. Rangers learned about self-rescue swimming, wading with belay assist, go-rescue, and "throw bag" techniques.

Forest Ranger swimming in river
Swiftwater training on Sacandaga River

Forest Ranger reaches for pack while swimming in river
Swiftwater training

Forest Rangers work together during training in river
Swiftwater training on Sacandaga River

Town of Stony Creek
Warren County
Wilderness Search:
On June 24 at 2:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by a 50-year-old man who became disoriented while hiking on West Stony Creek Road. Forest Rangers Savarie and Donegan responded to assist. At 4:17 p.m., Ranger Donegan located the hiker from Stony Creek and escorted the subject out of the woods. At 4:49 p.m., Ranger Donegan and the hiker were out of the woods and clear of the scene.

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On June 25, Forest Rangers Mitchell and Slade, along with staff from the Albany Pine Bush, The Nature Conservancy, DEC program staff, and volunteers participated in a prescribed burn at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The Diversity Unit is 15 acres in size and was burned to reduce undesirable shade vegetative species while promoting desirable pitch pine and oak species to create openings for wild blue lupine and other vegetation. These prescribed burns also reduce fuel loads to prevent future wildfires.

Forest Ranger monitors fire during prescribed burn
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Town of Hadley
Saratoga County
Whitewater Training:
On June 25, Forest Ranger Lomnitzer organized the annual New York State licensed guide whitewater raft training, in this case an American Canoe Association L4 workshop with five stations. Skills covered in the training included knots/mechanical advantage, wading, throwbags, rescue swimming, and go-rescue. Thirty-three guides participated in the training and shared positive feedback with their trainers.

Forest Ranger jumps into moving river water
Whitewater training

Town of Croghan
Lewis County
ATV Accident:
On June 25 at 6:18 p.m., Forest Ranger Hanno advised that while on routine patrol, he witnessed an ATV accident in the Frank E. Jadwin Memorial State Forest. A 57-year-old man from Pahrump, Nevada, was operating the ATV, pulling a trailer with two 14-year-old girls from Liverpool inside when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The accident caused the trailer to disconnect from the ATV and roll over. Ranger Hanno assessed the two young passengers in the trailer and determined one subject had injured her arm and the other was exhibiting signs of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a wrist injury. Ranger Hanno stabilized the subject with the suspected TBI and contacted Lewis County 911 for EMS response. Both girls were wearing helmets, or their injuries could have been much worse. Once Lewis County Search and Rescue was on scene, the subjects were loaded into the ambulance for transport to a local hospital and the young person exhibiting TBI symptoms was later airlifted to a hospital in Syracuse. All resources were clear of the scene at 11:15 p.m. Several citations were issued.

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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