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For Release: Tuesday, November 30, 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 Watson
Lewis County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 24 at 10:17 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Lewis County requesting Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a missing person from Lowville. The county indicated they found the subject's vehicle at Francis Lake in the Independence River Wild Forest in the town of Watson. Rangers Hanno and McCartney responded and found the missing person at 12:29 a.m. Rangers determined the subject was likely suffering from hypothermia, packaged her into a litter, and carried her out of the woods to a Lewis County Search and Rescue ambulance by approximately 1 a.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 25 at 3:10 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County about two hikers on the Soda Range Trail who had lost their way and did not have headlamps or cold weather gear. The hikers were using a trail app, which was draining their cell phone battery. At 4:27 p.m., Rangers Black and Evans found the hikers and helped them out to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 4:45 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 25 at 4:50 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County about three hikers on the summit of Mount Marcy requesting a ride off the mountain. The hikers were wearing regular sneakers and complaining of frozen feet with at least eight inches of snow near the peak. Rangers Black and Evans responded. The hikers could not read a map properly, making it more difficult for Rangers to pinpoint their location. At 9:52 p.m., Rangers reached the hikers and helped them to Marcy Dam and then to their vehicle. Resources were clear at 10:36 p.m.

City of Kingston
Ulster County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 26 at 3:55 p.m., Ranger Franceschina received a call from ECO Johnson about a 46-year-old hunter who was disoriented and in need of assistance in Bluestone Wild Forest near Jockey Hill Road. The hunter from Lake Katrine sent a location pin drop, but did not trust the app to guide him out of the woods. Ranger Franceschina and ECO Johnson responded to assist. At 4:15 p.m., Ranger Franceschina spoke to the hunter, who provided his coordinates. Ranger Franceschina entered the woods from the north side of Jockey Hill Road and ECO Johnson entered from the south side along Route 28. At 4:30 p.m., Ranger Franceschina located the hunter in good health and led him out of the woods. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 27 at 4:33 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Warren County about two hikers from the Syracuse area who were lost between Cat and Thomas mountains. Ranger Donegan responded to the location shared by the hikers and found the two women on the summit of Thomas Mountain. Ranger Donegan escorted the hikers back to the trailhead at 6:51 p.m.

Winter Safety

DEC encourages people heading outdoors this time of year to be safe and prepared. Dress properly: thermal undergarments that wick moisture; fleece or wool insulating layers; waterproof or water-resistant outer layers; thick socks, a winter hat, and gloves or mittens; and waterproof, insulated boots. Also carry plenty of food and water to eat and drink, and rest often. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes people more susceptible to hypothermia. For more hiking safety information, visit DEC's website.

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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