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For Release: Wednesday, July 7, 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 Rochester
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 29 at 1 p.m., Forest Ranger Slade overheard a 911 call regarding a missing 70-year-old man at Vernooy Kill Falls. Ranger Slade responded to the location along with Forest Rangers Stratton, Franceschina, Lieutenant Morse, Ulster County Sheriff's Deputies, the Accord Fire Department, and the Kerhonkson/Accord First Aid Squad. The hiker had been dropped off at the Upper Cherrytown Road lot by his wife at approximately 9 a.m. When the subject had not returned by 1 p.m., the caller became concerned and flagged down a passing motorist to call 911. Once on scene, Ranger Slade set up a command post at the trailhead on Upper Cherrytown Road, while Rangers Stratton and Franceschina searched the area. At 2:40 p.m., Rangers located the missing man from Harpursville and transported him back to the trailhead by ATV where EMS evaluated and released him. The hiker became disoriented when he attempted to return from the falls and ended up 2.5 miles from the falls when search crews reached him. All units were clear of the scene at 3:30 p.m.

Town of Colton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
On June 30 at 10:30 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the husband of a hiker who became lost while bushwhacking between the Cranberry Lake 50 trail and the Conifer Emporium Easement. Forest Rangers Benzel and Shea responded and located the 65-year-old woman from Gouverneur who made her way back to a logging access road. The hiker was in good health and Rangers gave her a ride back to her residence at 12:55 p.m.

Town of Benson
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 30 at 10:24 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) reporting receipt of a Garmin inReach device activation at Woods Lake in the Silver Lake Wilderness Area. IERCC received the message from a 30-year-old woman from Winooski, Vermont, who was experiencing chest pain, increased heart rate, dizziness, and nausea. Forest Rangers Thompson and Kerr responded along with the Northville Fire Department and the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Forest Rangers reached the subject at 11:51 p.m. She was able to walk back out to the trailhead with EMS assistance. Once at the trailhead, the hiker was loaded into an ambulance and transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Watson
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 1 at 4:24 p.m., Forest Ranger Hanno advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch via radio that he and Forest Ranger Evans would be on the Erie Canal Road in Watson assisting with a rescue of an individual injured while horseback riding. At 4:46 p.m., Ranger Hanno notified Dispatch that the 52-year-old woman from Cheektowaga was brought out of the woods to an ambulance for transport to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Schroon
Essex County
Wildland Fire:
On July 3 at 3:50 p.m., Assistant Forest Ranger Cleinman advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch that he located a fire while on routine patrol near a lean-to at Pharaoh Lake in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. The Assistant Forest Ranger reported that the fire, later determined to have been started by a campfire, was approximately 100 ft. by 100 ft. in size and smoldering with no active flames. Forest Rangers Arnold and Kabrehl responded by ATV with a pump and hoses. The half-acre fire was safely contained due to rain. The next day, two Rangers and an Assistant Forest Ranger returned to patrol the grounds. On July 5, at 4:11 p.m., Ranger Kabrehl declared the fire was out.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 3 at 7:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a 53-year-old man from Glens Falls with a weight-bearing knee injury at Seward Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. After speaking with the injured party, Forest Ranger DiCintio advised that the injured hiker and his partner were going to continue down the herd path while he and Rangers Praczkajlo and O'Connor were responding with two ATVs. The hikers made it down the trail to the Rangers and were driven out to where the Rangers' trucks were parked. The hikers were then given a courtesy ride back to their vehicle and all units were clear of the scene at 11:15 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 4 at 1:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from three climbers in the Trap Dike reporting that one of the group had suffered a lower leg injury after a fall. Five Forest Rangers, four Assistant Forest Rangers, and two volunteer climbers responded to assist. A team comprised of two Rangers and two volunteer climbers were inserted at the base of the Mt. Colden Trap Dike by New York State Police Aviation. Additional resources responded via Avalanche Pass with technical rescue equipment. At 5:30 p.m., Rangers reached the 59-year-old woman from Greenwich, Connecticut, stabilized the injury, and developed an evacuation plan. The responders established a steep-angle belay system, lowering the subject approximately 100 yards down slope to a location better suited for a hoist extraction. At 6:15 p.m., State Police Aviation returned with Ranger DiCintio and the woman was hoisted from the Trap Dike and transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment.

Helicopter flying over steep rock face
Helicopter arrives to assist in Essex County hiker rescue

Forest Rangers securing injured hiker into a stretcher
Rescue crews package up woman injured while hiking

Forest Rangers and hikers using ropes to climb down rock wall
Rope rescue of injured hiker in Trap Dike, Essex County

Two Forest Rangers in helicopter
NOTE: Essex County rescue photos provided by Assistant Forest Ranger Jonathan Leff and Assistant Forest Ranger Brendan Jackson

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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