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For Release: Tuesday, September 21, 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 Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 14, at 11:14 a.m., Essex County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a hiker with a knee injury on the summit of Hopkins Mountain in the Giant Mountain Wilderness. Rangers Lewis, Morehouse, Martin, and O'Connor responded. Rangers Lewis and Morehouse stabilized the hiker's knee and carried him down the trail where he was transferred to a 6x6 UTV. The hiker was taken to the trailhead where he was met by his spouse and then driven to a hospital. Resources were clear at 4 p.m.

Rangers in the woods carrying hiker to safety on the trail
Rangers carry out injured hiker on Hopkins Mountain

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 14 at 3:08 p.m., Essex County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 32-year-old hiker from Texas with a head injury on Giant Mountain. Lt. Dubay requested New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation assistance to insert Rangers into the location. Two Forest Rangers were inserted by NYSP one-half mile from the hiker's coordinates. The hiker was located at 7:45 p.m., evaluated, and treated for his injuries. Rangers helped the subject hike down to reunite with his hiking partner at 12:23 a.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 15 at 7:45 p.m., Greene County 911 contacted DEC's Central Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a 30-year-old man from Saugerties lost near the Prediger Road trailhead in the Indian Head Wilderness. Rangers Fox and Gullen responded, joining a Hunter Police patrol and NYSP Officer at the trailhead. Rangers bushwhacked toward cell phone coordinates collected by Greene County 911. Rangers located the hiker, provided him with a flashlight, and escorted him back to his vehicle. Resources were clear of the scene at 10:15 p.m.

Town of Pinckney
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 16 at 8:30 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch notified Lt. Hoag of a pair of climbers from Fort Drum in need of assistance at Inman Gulf in Tug Hill State Forest. Ranger Thomes responded to the scene where he met NYSP and a Lewis County Sheriff's Deputy. The climbers were looking for a nearby waterfall and ended up stranded, approximately 180 feet down in the shale substrate gulf. Rangers Hanno, McCartney, and Candee also responded to the scene and set up a technical rope rescue system to lower a Ranger to the climbers. The climbers were individually raised to the top of the gulf using the rope system. Lewis County 911, NYSP, Lewis County Sheriff's Office, Lewis County Search and Rescue, and the Martinsburg and Copenhagen fire departments assisted with this rescue. Resources were clear of the scene by 2:20 a.m.

Forest Rangers in the dark woods with headlamps performing a rescue
Rescuers use steep angle rope system at Inman Gulf

Town of Berne
Albany County
UAS Training:
On Sept. 15 and 16, Rangers Scott, Petit, and Virkler participated in a DEC-wide Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) training at Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area. Ranger trainees completed the six-day program involving a Federal Aviation Administration written test, instruction in risk management and DEC standards, and a flight obstacle course. Upon the completion of two supervised flight missions, Rangers will be designated as DEC-certified UAS operators.

Two Rangers work on getting drones ready for UAS training
DEC UAS training

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 17 at 2 a.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from a hiker requesting assistance locating and helping his partner out of the woods. The caller, who hiked ahead of the group from Illinois to get cell coverage, reported the subject was dehydrated, experiencing cramps, and could not continue. The caller believed the group was near Marcy Dam. Ranger O'Connor located the hiker, provided an assessment, and assisted her back to the trailhead at 4:30 a.m.

Town of Wells
Hamilton County
Rope Rescue Training:
On Sept. 17, Forest Ranger Scott joined New York State Fire and New York Task Force-2 at Auger Falls in the Sacandaga River Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area for a practice rescue scenario. Ranger Scott placed a mannequin at the falls and the team rigged a highline over the gorge to recover the mannequin. The training scenario focused on rigging, packaging, and extricating the patient. Photos, courtesy of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DSHES), can be viewed at DSHES Flickr page (link leaves DEC website).

emergency response personnel perform rope training in the woods
Rescue training at Auger Falls, photo courtesy of DSHES

Emergency response personnel training near a waterfall
Rescue training at Auger Falls, photo courtesy of DSHES

City of Plattsburgh
Clinton County
Community Outreach:
On Sept. 17, members of DEC's Office of Public Protection (Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers) participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This 5K event in the city of Plattsburgh involves Officers and athletes from across the North Country to raise awareness about the Special Olympics of New York. The Fall Games take place in Glens Falls this October. Learn more at the Special Olympics New York website (link leaves DEC's website).

Group of law enforcement officials pose for photo on steps before torch run
Law Enforcement Torch Run

Town of Cheektowaga
Erie County
Public Outreach:
On Sept. 17, Forest Rangers Kennedy and Thaine provided a drone demonstration at the Reinstein Woods fall festival. Ranger Kennedy demonstrated the ability to fly a personal floatation device (PFD) to someone in distress with the aid of the Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). This UAS is equipped with forward looking infrared (FLIR), which allows the operator to view what the craft is seeing from a monitor on dry land.

Ranger stands near water while controlling a drone that is flying above
Ranger Kennedy using UAS to fly PFD

Town of New Scotland
Albany County
Public Outreach:
On Sept. 18, Ranger Mitchell and Smokey Bear attended the Fall Festival at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar. More than 1,500 people attended the family-friendly environmental celebration featuring hands-on educational activities, interactive exhibits, interpretive walks, and outdoor safety tips from Ranger Mitchell and Smokey Bear.

Smokey Bear and a Ranger pose for picture under a pergola
Ranger Mitchell and Smokey Bear at Five Rivers Fall Festival

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept 18 at 10:15 a.m. Hamilton County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 34-year-old hiker from Baldwinsville with a knee injury on the Castle Rock Trail in Blue Mountain Lake Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Lomnitzer and Milano reached the subject at 11:12 a.m., and assisted him back to the trailhead. At 11:30 a.m., he advised he would seek medical attention on his own.

Town of Naples
Ontario County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m., Ranger Dormer received a call from ECO Crain reporting a 47-year-old hiker from Florida with a lower leg injury at the High Tor Wildlife Management Area. The hiker twisted her ankle while descending steep terrain at Conklin-Parish Gully. Ranger Dormer responded, and with assistance from local agencies, wrapped the hiker's ankle and assisted her out. She declined further medical treatment and responders were clear at 6:30 p.m.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Washington County 911 advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch there was a lost hiker on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. The hiker from Wynantskill lost the trail near the summit during a thunderstorm. After contacting 911, the hiker used an app to help him move toward the trail. Without a flashlight and a dying cell phone battery, he waited for help. Forest Ranger Donegan located the lost hiker at 8:15 p.m., and gave him water and a light. They walked out to the trailhead and were clear at 9 p.m.

Town of Steuben
Oneida County
State Land Protection:
On Sept. 18 at 10:30 p.m., Ranger McCartney located an underage drinking party at a popular scenic overlook on Penn Mountain State Forest. There were approximately 20 people and a large fire in the parking area. Ranger McCartney issued three tickets, extinguished the fire, and dispersed the group by 11:44 p.m.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 19 at 5:22 p.m., Warren County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch to report two hikers lost on Tongue Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. The hikers did not have food or water and had hiked down to the shore on Lake George. Ranger Donegan responded by boat from Green Island and brought the pair back to the boat launch. From there, they were given a courtesy ride to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 8:10 p.m.

Town of Providence
Saratoga County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 19 at 9:24 p.m., Saratoga County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a hiker lost in the woods on the county trail system. Ranger Nally responded with Sheriff's Deputies and located the hikers in a swampy area. The pair was escorted back to their vehicle by 11:30 p.m.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 19 at 10:10 p.m., Ulster County contacted DEC's Central Dispatch reporting a 69-year-old overdue hiker from Pine Plains on Wittenberg Mountain in the Slide Wilderness Area. Rangers Martin and Franceschina responded with State Police, Shandaken Police, Ulster Emergency Management, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Phoenicia FD, and Shandaken Ambulance. The missing hiker was last seen by his family at the intersection of the Wittenberg and Terrace Mountain trails. Ranger Russell located the hiker, uninjured, approximately one mile from the trailhead. The hiker stated he had taken the trail to Terrace Mountain and, after realizing his mistake, returned to the red trail to rest from fatigue. Ranger Martin assisted him out of the woods and resources were clear at 1:40 a.m.

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.

If a person needs a Forest Ranger, whether it's for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. If a person needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for every Ranger listed by region.

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