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For Release: Tuesday, August 3, 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 Allen
Allegany County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 25 at 12:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Thaine was notified by Allegany County 911 that a 24-year-old hiker from Wilson became stranded while attempting to hike around Allen Lake in the Allen Lake State Forest. There was no trail and she encountered difficult vegetation and wetland features. Ranger Thaine contacted her by cellphone and determined the best solution was to canoe across to pick her up. At 3 p.m., Ranger Thaine located the hiker and paddled her back across the lake to her vehicle. All were clear of the scene at 3:30 p.m.

Town of Kirkland
Oneida County
Wildland Search:
On July 26 at 5:57 p.m., Forest Ranger Bills received a request from Hamilton College Campus Safety to assist with the search for a student last seen by staff on a wooded campus trail at 1 p.m. Forest Rangers Bills and McCartney organized the resources on scene and developed several rapid search technique assignments. At 8:34 p.m., the 19-year-old student from Louisiana was located at the base of the Kirkland Glen approximately a half-mile from where he was last seen. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Agencies assisting with the search included Hamilton College Campus Safety, Oneida County 911, Oneida County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police (NYSP), NYSP Special Operations Response Team, and the Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 27 at 2:15 p.m., Forest Rangers Quinn and Sabo responded to the Lillian Brook trail near Elk Lake in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area for a report of a 64-year-old hiker from Southampton with a dislocated shoulder. According to the caller, he received a GPS text message from his parents' Garmin InReach Emergency Beacon requesting assistance. He stated that his parents were descending South Dix when his father slipped and grabbed a tree to stop his fall resulting in the injury. He also indicated that his parents were continuing to hike out to the trailhead. At 3:30 p.m. Rangers Quinn and Sabo, along with DEC Wildlife Technician Geyer, located the couple approximately two miles from the Elk Lake trailhead. Rangers stabilized the injury and gave the couple an ATV ride to the trailhead. They said they would seek medical attention on their own. All units were clear at 4:30 p.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wildland Rescue:
On July 30 at 9:37 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance from Hamilton County 911 regarding a 75-year-old hiker from Farmington suffering a knee injury from a fall approximately one-third of the way up Rondaxe Mountain. Forest Rangers Evans and Temple responded and were met by rescuers who were with the injured hiker. Rangers Evans and Temple established an anchor and belay system and coordinated lowering of the man through a steep section of exposed granite. He was carried to the trailhead via a wheeled litter and transported by ambulance to a local hospital at 11:07 a.m. Agencies assisting with the rescue included Old Forge Fire, Eagle Bay Fire, Old Forge Ambulance, and Webb Police.

Town of Canton
St. Lawrence County
State Land Enforcement:
On July 30 at 9:20 p.m., Forest Ranger Shea responded to the Upper/Lower Lake Wilderness Management Area for a report of a party on State land that was also connected to an ongoing criminal mischief investigation from June 21. Ranger Shea witnessed an individual using a pick-up truck to break a chain that locked the gated access to the area, providing access to an additional 50 partygoers. The gathering was quickly dispersed, and the area was cleaned up. A 20-year-old male was taken into custody on a criminal mischief charge and transported to State Police Canton for processing. Assisting with this enforcement action was Forest Ranger Benzel, New York State Police, and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.

Town of Deerpark
Orange County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 12:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Jahn overheard radio traffic from Orange County 911 Dispatch about an injured hiker on the Lenape Ridge Trail in Huckleberry Ridge State Forest. Ranger Jahn responded and at 1:18 p.m., made cell phone contact with the reporting party who stated the 35-year-old hiker from Warwick was complaining of an unstable lower leg injury. The injured woman was evaluated by EMS and packaged in a wheeled litter provided by the Huguenot Fire Department. Ranger Jahn assisted with the carry out and at 2 p.m., the woman was transferred to a Port Jervis EMS ambulance to go to a local hospital. All units were clear of the scene at 2:30 p.m.

Rangers and local emergency response carrying hiker out of woods to parking lot
Hiker rescued in Huckleberry Ridge State Forest

Town of Colchester
Delaware County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 1 p.m., Forest Ranger Stratton overheard radio traffic requesting Roscoe-Rockland EMS and Fire Department to Huggins Lake for a hiker approximately one mile from the trailhead who reportedly suffered a seizure while hiking. Ranger Stratton arrived on scene at 1:45 p.m. and was informed that rescue personnel already entered the woods with a UTV and were making their way to the 34-year-old hiker from Westwood, New Jersey. Ranger Stratton and Assistant Forest Ranger Mitchell hiked in on foot and assisted with the carry out of the hiker. At 2:20 p.m., the man was out of the woods and said he would seek further medical attention on his own.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescues:
On July 31 while on patrol at Kaaterskill Falls, Ranger Dawson encountered three separate hikers who requested medical assistance. The first hiker was a 54-year-old male feeling lightheaded and tired with a medical history of diabetes. Ranger Dawson gave him water and let him rest, then walked him to his official truck and gave him a ride to his group's vehicles at the North South Lake campground. The other two hikers had stable ankle injuries. Ranger Dawson provided medical care, and assisted them out to their vehicles.

Town of Tannersville
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 8:40 p.m., a 33-year-old hiker with a small dog called 911 to report she was lost while hiking the Escarpment trail on South Mountain. She started at Laurel House trailhead and became disoriented when it started getting dark and she encountered several trail junctures. Ranger Dawson received her coordinates from Greene 911, called her, and told her to stay where she was. When Ranger Dawson arrived, he learned she walked three-quarters of a mile on the trail in the opposite direction. He hiked to the new location, found her near Boulder Rock, and they hiked out. He gave her a ride to her vehicle and the scene was cleared at 10:47 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 5:32 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a report from a hiker in Avalanche Pass that a 22-year-old hiker from Johnson City was yelling for help in the Trap Dike on Mount Colden in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. With only verbal contact with the reporting party, the hiker described an unstable lower leg injury and said he was unable to move. Forest Ranger Lt. Burns requested a NYSP Aviation Unit to assist with transporting a technical rescue team, consisting of two Forest Rangers and two local volunteer climbers, to the base of the Colden Trap Dike. In preparation for a carry out, a second team of six Rangers, two Assistant Forest Rangers, and the Lake Colden Caretaker responded with additional equipment via the Avalanche Pass trail. At 8 p.m., the NYSP Aviation Unit and Rangers located the hiker on a ledge just north of the Trap Dike. Forest Ranger Praczkajlo was lowered down to the hiker's location and determined the hiker was uninjured. However, the hiker was in a compromised location that required a technical rope rescue. The technical rescue team continued their ascent of the Trap Dike and assisted with safely evacuating the hiker. At 10:46 p.m., the evacuation was complete, and the hiker was reunited with his hiking companion. Rangers were cleared of the incident and responded to another rescue (below).

Ranger in green and Ranger in yellow inside a helicopter after rescue
Ranger Crew Chief Evans and Ranger Praczkajlo help rescue hiker from the Trap Dike on Mount Colden

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 6:38 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a hiker approximately one mile above Indian Falls on the Van Ho Trail to Mount Marcy with a non-weight bearing ankle injury. Forest Rangers Lewis and O'Connor and Assistant Forest Ranger Raudonis were redirected from the Trap Dike incident to begin coordinating. Six additional Rangers and a paramedic were also requested to assist. At 9:28 p.m., Forest Rangers located the injured hiker above Indian Falls where they conducted an assessment of her injury and applied a splint to her ankle. At 12:08 a.m., additional Rangers and a paramedic from Trap Dike Rescue arrived on scene and began assisting with the carry out of the hiker. They reached Marcy Dam outpost at 4:06 a.m. and the 24-year-old hiker from Rochester was then taken to South Meadow via UTV and transferred to Lake Placid Ambulance for transport to a local hospital for further medical care. All Ranger units were clear of the incident at 5 a.m.

Rangers with headlamps lighting trail for rescue
Rangers conducting a carry out on the Van Ho trail

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 1 at 9 p.m., a group of hikers contacted Greene County 911 requesting assistance after losing the trail in the Platte Clove Preserve. The caller stated they were unable to find the trail markers. The group began their hike to Echo Lake in the Indian Head Wilderness Area at 2 p.m. and upon their return, they were losing daylight and decided to take a shortcut out to Platte Clove Road. With only the dim light from their cell phones, they were unable to follow the trail markers and called 911 for assistance. Forest Rangers Nelson and Dawson responded, along with Hunter Police Department. At 10 p.m., the hikers from Kingston were located, given lights, and assisted out of the woods.

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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