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For Release: Tuesday, November 9, 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 Lexington
Greene County
Graffiti Arrest:
On Nov. 2, DEC Central Dispatch received a call about a social media post showing graffiti on a lean-to on State lands at Hunter Mountain. Rangers Fox and Dawson began an investigation with DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI). On Nov. 4, Lt. Pachan and Ranger Dawson received information that the suspect was currently at the John Robb lean-to attempting to clean up the graffiti. Rangers Fox and Dawson responded to the scene and notified BECI investigators. Rangers learned that the subject drove up the mountain on Hunter ski resort roads and got stuck in a snowbank at the top of the Kaatskill Flyer chairlift. Ski resort staff and Ranger Dawson freed the vehicle from the snowbank, and the Officers escorted the subject down to the ski lodge where they met responding BECI investigators. The 39-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested and transported to the New York State Police (NYSP) barracks in Hunter. He was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for making graffiti and violations for defacing rock and natural materials on state land and defacing a DEC structure. The suspect is due back in court on Dec. 15.

Lean-to in woods with bright paint all over it and a wall next to it.
Graffiti at John Robb lean-to

Lean-to cleaned of the graffiti that was on it.
John Robb lean-to graffiti cleaned up by Rangers

Town of Piercefield
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 2 at 8:36 p.m., a woman called Ray Brook Dispatch to report her husband overdue from hunting on the western side of Tupper Lake in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest. Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), NYSP, and volunteers were part of the search team. On Nov. 3, Rangers used Type 1 and Type 2 searches, while ECOs searched the shoreline and water, and NYSP K-9 units searched the ground. On Nov. 4, with a Ranger acting as crew chief, 178 search, fire, rescue, and police personnel continued the search, including eight NYSP drones and a NYSP helicopter. Around 12 p.m., a search crew found the hunter's body. He had been dragging a deer he shot while hunting. At 2:39 p.m. the subject's body was recovered, flown out, and turned over to the coroner.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 3 at 10:45 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call regarding three lost hikers from Brooklyn and Queens on Slide Mountain. The hikers were dressed appropriately and had two cell phones with adequate battery charge, allowing Ulster County to ping their location. Forest Rangers Brand and Martin reached the hikers at 1:57 a.m. The hikers were in good condition. Rangers Brand and Martin gave the group food and water and helped them back to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 5:15 a.m.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Community Service:
On Nov. 5, Forest Rangers Slade, Kerr, and Stratton, along with Forestry and Operations staff, and the NYSP Aviation Unit flew new lean-to kits into the Catskill Mountains. Two lean-tos will be built at Table Mountain and Terrace Mountain in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Bruderhof Communities are building the lean-tos. Supplies were donated by the Catskill 3500 Club.

Forest Ranger helps another ranger hook up their safety gear with helicopter in the background
Rangers Stratton and Cowart helping with lean-to project

Helicopter hovers in field as Forest Rangers prepare to attach supplies to it
Lean-to building project

Forest Rangers attach lean-to supplies to hovering helicopter
Lean-to building project

Pine Bush Preserve
Albany County
Prescribed Burn:
On Nov. 5, Forest Ranger Jackson, along with staff from the Albany Pine Bush, DEC, and volunteers participated in a prescribed fire at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The Region G burn units included a total of 17 acres, of which 15 acres were successfully burned to promote the growth of warm season grasses like wild blue lupine, top kill woody shrubs, expose mineral soil, and reduce fuel loads for potential future wildfires.

fire scorches the ground during prescribed burn
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush

Forest Ranger and other staff along a sandy trail in the Pine Bush
Ranger Jackson at prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush

Steuben County
Town of Wheeler
Stolen Trailer:
On Nov. 5, Forest Rangers received a complaint about an abandoned pop-up trailer left along with garbage in Pigtail Hollow State Forest. Photos sent with the complaint showed a license plate, which allowed Rangers to identify the registered owner of the trailer. Rangers determined the owner took the trailer to a local dealership for servicing and when she went to pick it up, found out it was stolen. The investigation was turned over to Bath Police.

Small, white pop-up trailer in the woods
Stolen trailer dumped in Pigtail Hollow State Forest

Greene County
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 6 at 3:40 p.m., a hiking group returning down the Pecoy Notch trail at Twin Mountain called 911 after a member of their group tripped over a tree root and hurt her ankle. After carrying the 65-year-old woman from Elmhurst down the trail, the hikers realized they had another mile to go and needed help. Rangers Gullen and Dawson hiked in with a wheeled litter and reached the hiker at 5:05 p.m. After stabilizing the leg injury and warming the hiker in a hypo-wrap, Rangers Gullen and Dawson packaged the hiker in the litter. With the help of Ranger Petit and other hikers, the subject was wheeled to the trailhead. Ranger Dawson re-examined and re-splinted the injury, the hiker declined further medical attention, and the incident concluded at 7:30 p.m.

Essex County
Town of Wilmington
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 6 at 4:35 p.m., Forest Rangers were called to assist two hikers stranded on a trail on Whiteface Mountain near the summit. At 7:06 p.m., Rangers Russell, Curcio, Black, and Mecus reached the hikers from New Jersey approximately 100 feet off the trail, in snow and icy conditions. Rangers warmed and fed the hikers before assisting the pair across the steep, ice-covered terrain to the summit. The hikers were taken by ATV to their vehicle at 9:09 p.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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