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For Release: Tuesday, December 28, 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."

Breakneck Ridge State Park
Dutchess County
Wilderness Search:
On Dec. 16 at 5:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Pries responded to a call for a lost hiker at Breakneck Ridge State Park. With the assistance of the North Highland and Cold Spring fire departments, Ranger Pries located the hiker about an hour later. The 29-year-old from Chappaqua did not have a headlamp so he was unable to see the trail. Ranger Pries assisted the hiker through a steep and rocky area and both were out of the woods by 7:40 p.m.

Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County
Debris Fire:
On Dec. 21 at approximately 6:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Hicks overheard a Suffolk County dispatch call for a debris fire in Yaphank in the town of Brookhaven. Ranger Hicks responded along with Brookhaven and Yaphank fire departments. The fire was caused by a homeowner dumping fireplace ash onto debris behind his home. The responders suppressed the 0.3 acre fire in approximately one hour and Ranger Hicks educated the homeowner about proper disposal to help prevent a fire from happening again.

dark smokey woods
Debris fire in Brookhaven

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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