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For Release: Tuesday, November 23, 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 Norway
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 16 at 3:23 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 regarding an overdue hunter last seen at Stanley Road and Black Creek Road in the town of Norway. Rangers Bills and Piersma responded, along with a friend of the hunter. Rangers made voice contact and found the 45-year-old hunter from Herkimer at 5:19 p.m. The subject was in good condition, but cold and wet. Rangers walked the hunter out of the woods and he declined further medical attention.

Town of Philipstown
Putnam County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 17 at 4 p.m., Forest Ranger Pries was notified about an injured hiker off the Wilkinson Trail in Breakneck Ridge. Rangers Cowart, Jahn, and Pries responded. At 5:45 p.m., Ranger Pries reached the 54-year-old hiker from New Jersey, who suffered an ankle injury. Rangers carried the hiker out on a litter and EMS checked the subject's injury at 6:30 p.m. All resources were clear at 7:30 p.m.

Belleayre Mountain
Ulster County
Rescue Training:
On Nov. 18, Forest Rangers trained with Belleayre Mountain Ski Patrol to become more proficient with the gondola rescue system. In addition, the training served as a useful platform to foster relationships with regional search and rescue experts with a variety of backgrounds, including arborists, fire department members, ski patrol, outdoor guides, and community members with search and rescue experience. In the event that the Belleayre gondola lift stops functioning, this group of rescuers will respond to get everyone riding the lift safely to the ground. This requires either climbing a support tower and being lowered to each car via the lift cable, or ascending a fixed line at each gondola car. Once a car is reached, everyone inside is put into a harness and lowered to the ground one at a time.

Town of Windham
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 19 at 2:57 p.m., Forest Rangers were alerted to a report of a hiker with a leg injury on Windham High Peak, approximately three miles from the trailhead. Rangers Dawson, Fox, Gullen, Mitchell, and Jackson responded. Rangers hiked up with a wheeled litter and found the 65-year-old hiker from Fishkill. Rangers splinted the subject's ankle and helped the hiker back out to the trailhead. The hiker declined further care and resources were clear at 9:49 p.m.

Rangers splint hiker's ankle on Windham High Peak

Town of Coxsackie
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m., Green County 911 received a call for an overdue hunter off of Medway Earlton Road in the town of Coxsackie. Forest Rangers Dawson and Gullen responded, along with a Greene County Sheriff's Deputy and a member of the hunter's group. At the hunter's blind, the responders found his ATV, but no sign of the hunter. The responders fired signal shots and the lost hunter responded with a single shot. Rangers made voice contact, saw the hunter's light, and reached the 72-year-old subject, who was in good condition. The hunter had become disoriented after dark when he attempted to return to the house, but couldn't reach out because his cell phone battery died. At 8:45 p.m., patrol vehicles transported the search party and the hunter back to the command post.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 21 at 5:15 p.m., Greene County 911 received a call about two hikers from Long Island having trouble walking out to Prediger trailhead in the town of Hunter. On the way from hiking out from Echo Lake after a two-night camping trip, the pair stopped and climbed a tree to check out the view. One of the hikers fell approximately 20 feet to the ground. The other hiker assisted the fallen hiker before calling 911. Forest Rangers Dawson and Gullen responded and located the hikers three-quarters of a mile in and 100 feet off the trail. The hikers realized they lost the trail and started a fire. Rangers provided medical care and determined the hikers could both walk out with the assistance of hiking poles. Ranger Ellis assisted with the walkout and the group made it to the trailhead by 8 p.m.

Rangers splint hiker's ankle on Windham High Peak

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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