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For Release: Tuesday, December 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 Colonie
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On Dec. 14, Forest Rangers Petit and Pries were joined by staff from DEC, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Albany Pine Bush, and volunteers to participate in a prescribed fire at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The Intern East and West prescribed fire burned a total of two acres of grasses to reduce woody shrub invasion and create openings and a better growing environment for warm season grasses and wild blue lupine.

Large portion of grassy area burns during prescribed fire
Prescribed Fire at Albany Pine Bush

A Forest Ranger and Forester, both wearing yellow, monitor prescribed fire burning in the background
Ranger Petit and DEC Forester MacKenzie at Albany Pine Bush prescribed fire

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 14 at 4:45 p.m., Essex County 911 received a call from a hiker requesting assistance on the Hurricane Trail in Keene. The 40-year-old from Broadalbin became turned around on the trail and was concerned about the impending darkness. The hiker didn't have a light source or enough charge on his cell phone for a light, was not appropriately dressed in layers for the weather, and did not have micro spikes, a map, or a compass. At 6:39 p.m., Forest Ranger Curcio located the hiker approximately one mile and a half up the trail, and walked him to his vehicle.

Town of Bath
Steuben County
Public Outreach:
On Dec. 14, 2021, the Bath Police Department hosted its 5th annual "Shop with a Cop" event to help children displaced during the holiday season by raising money for Christmas gifts. Forest Ranger Carpenter and Lieutenant Wickens and Environmental Conservation Police Officers Crain and Baker attended the event, which kicked off at the VFW in Bath with vehicle tours, during which the kids had the opportunity to use the lights and sirens in each patrol unit. After the tours, Officers paired up with children and helped them pick out gifts for family members. A bus then shuttled participants from store to store in a convoy of law enforcement vehicles. The day concluded with snacks, lunch, and Officer-aided gift wrapping. It was a wonderful event that provides an opportunity for law enforcement to make a positive impression on local youth.

Group of Forest Rangers and other law enforcement take a group photo with a Christmas tree in the background
Forest Rangers take part in 5th Annual 'Shop with a Cop' in Bath

Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Ulster County
On Dec. 16, Forest Rangers in the Division of Forest Protection's Aviation Program from DEC Regions 3, 4, and 5 conducted a joint hoist training with New York State Police Aviation and Park Rangers from Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Forest Rangers presented field training on the use of litters, commercial and tied harnesses, and operations in and around helicopters. Flight operations were conducted for Forest Ranger Crew Chief proficiency and provide experience for DEC and Minnewaska Rangers who are expected to support future rescue operations. Forest Rangers conducted 18 personnel hoists and four litter hoists.

Forest Ranger hoisted in the air by hovering helicopter in a field during training
DEC participates in hoist training at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Rescue litter dangles over a field from a hovering helicopter during training
DEC participates in hoist training at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Helicopter flies overhead while a Forest Ranger is hoisted above ground over a field during training
DEC participates in hoist training at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

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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