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For Release: Tuesday, October 5, 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."

Hamlet of Nineveh
Broome County
Susquehanna River
Airboat Training:
On Sept. 30, Forest Rangers from Regions 4, 7, and 8 participated in low-light and night airboat operation training. This training allows Rangers to gain proficiency and knowledge in night airboat operations when many swiftwater, flood, and flat-ice rescues occur.


Airboat training on Susquehanna River

Village of Little Valley
Cattaraugus County
Technical Rope Training:
On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Forest Rangers from Regions 8 and 9 participated in technical rope rescue training to learn about new systems for raising and lowering subjects in high-angle environments, as well as how to install and use a new fat tire wheel fitted to a rescue litter for long carry outs. Rangers also reviewed skills including patient packaging, personal rigging, and rappelling.


Wheeled litter training with newly promoted Captain Rogers


Wheeled litter training


Technical rope rescue training

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 1 at 6:53 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from two hikers who became disoriented while hiking Sleeping Beauty Mountain. The 65- and 69-year-old hikers from Long Island were on a trail, but were not sure which trail, as the trail markers were not the same color as the markers on their original trail. Neither hiker had headlamps, maps, food, water, or hiking equipment. At 9:40 p.m., Forest Rangers Donegan and Arnold located the couple on the trail near Bumps Pond, approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The Rangers provided the hikers with jackets, food, and water before escorting them to the trailhead. Forest Rangers and the hikers were back at the trailhead at 12:20 a.m.

Town of Kinderhook
Columbia County
Community Event:
On Oct. 2, Forest Ranger Jackson participated in the Wee Wonders event at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook. The event was hosted by the National Park Service in a partnership with DEC and was focused on educating children about trees and wildfire prevention. Participants got the chance to meet and interact with Smokey Bear, learn about fire safety, and take home white spruce saplings from DEC's Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery.


Ranger Jackson and Smokey Bear

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 2 at 11:15 a.m., Central Dispatch received a call from Greene County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a 28-year-old hiker from Albany who was experiencing a seizure while hiking Huckleberry Point Trail in the Kaaterskill Wild Forest. Forest Rangers from Region 3 and 4 responded, along with Greene County EMS, and Tannersville and Cedar Grove volunteer fire departments. Forest Rangers and EMS staff located the hiker approximately 1.5 miles in from the trailhead. After a medical assessment, the hiker was packaged up and transported by UTV back to the trailhead where they were transferred to Hunter Ambulance for hospital transport. Resources were clear of the scene at 1:35 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 3 at 1:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a 26-year-old hiker from Brooklyn having seizures near Avalanche Pass in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area. Four Forest Rangers, two Assistant Forest Rangers, and the Marcy Dam Caretaker responded to assist. At 2:12 p.m., rescuers located the hiker, performed a medical assessment, and helped them back to the trailhead. At 4:13 p.m., the hiker was turned over to Lake Placid Rescue for transport to a local hospital.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 3 at 2:09 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by the Lake Colden Caretaker that she was with a 68-year-old hiker from Vermontville displaying symptoms of hypothermia. Caretaker Kelly warmed the hiker and began escorting her toward the Marcy Dam Outpost. Forest Ranger Evans met the hiker at the outpost and continued to assist her out of the woods. They reached the trailhead at 5:32 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 3 at approximately 3 p.m., Greene County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance at Kaaterskill Falls for a report of a hiker with a head injury. Forest Ranger Fox and Assistant Forest Ranger France were at the Laurel House trailhead at the time of the call and began searching for the hiker. Two additional Rangers responded to assist. The 61-year-old woman from India was located at the intersection of the middle pool and staircase trail, where had she tripped and fallen, sustaining a head laceration and left knee abrasion. Rangers assessed the subject for a possible traumatic brain injury and provided basic first aid to control the bleeding. No serious head injury was immediately observed and responders proceeded to walk the hiker back out to the trailhead at Laurel House Road. At 4:35 p.m., the hiker was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Suffolk County
ATV Detail:
On Oct. 3, Forest Ranger Hicks participated in the Suffolk County Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council Multi-Agency ATV detail. The detail included DEC Forest Rangers, Suffolk County Park Rangers, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, Suffolk County Police Department, and the Suffolk County Police Aviation Unit. Seven individuals were caught illegally riding on public and private lands, as well as roadways. All vehicles were impounded and multiple summonses issued for parents and guardians allowing juveniles to operate an ATV in violation of local law and illegal operation of an ATV.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 3 at 5:09 p.m., Forest Ranger McCartney received a call from Nicks Lake Campground staff reporting two lost hikers in the vicinity of Nelson Lake Outlet in the Black River Wild Forest. The husband and wife from Chittenango set out around noon to hike the 4.7-mile Nicks Lake Loop trail, when they changed their plans and attempted to complete the Nicks Lake Outlet trail, unknowingly adding 14 miles to their hike. The couple began to realize they were in trouble around 3 p.m., but continued onward until they were off the trail and lost. They were both wet and didn't have a source of light to help them navigate. The couple sent a photograph of a map from their smartphone showing their location near the outlet of Nelson Lake. Forest Ranger McCartney canoed downstream from the Nelson Lake trailhead on the Middle Branch of the Moose River to the vicinity of the lost hikers and made contact at 6:53 p.m. Ranger McCartney shuttled the couple across the river to shore, where they hiked the railbed back to the trailhead and met Ranger Lt. Hoag for transport back to the campground.


Couple rescued from near Nelson Lake

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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