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For Release: Tuesday, January 4, 2022

DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review

Recent Statewide 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 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. Some of these incidents result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, DEC's "Forest Ranger Highlights" is transitioning to a new title, "DEC Forest Rangers - Week In Review."

"Over the last decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC saw an uptick in people visiting State lands to experience New York's abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC's Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely, as well as to protect our state's irreplaceable natural resources. 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 Forestport
Oneida County
Wilderness Search:
On Dec. 27 at 2:41 p.m., Forest Ranger McCartney overheard a radio call for a search for a 14-year-old who had run away from her parents and into the woods. Rangers McCartney and Bills responded to help the Oneida County Sheriff's Department. At 3:57 p.m., Ranger McCartney found the subject and walked her out of the woods to a waiting ambulance for further medical assistance. New York State Park Police and New York State Police (NYSP) assisted in this response.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 27 at 11:30 a.m., Forest Rangers were alerted to an ice climber with a possible leg injury on the Arm and Hammer/Tendonitis climbing route of Pitchoff Mountain. The 49-year-old climber from Pennsylvania fell approximately 50 feet. He was wearing a helmet, but injured both legs in the fall. A nearby guide saw the climber in danger. The guide, Roth, is a member of a DEC-trained volunteer climbing rescue team. Roth reached the climber at the cliff, performed a mid-face rescue, and lowered the subject to the base. Rangers Mecus, Lewis, Evans, Praczkajlo, and O'Connor accessed the base of the climbing area utilizing steep-angle mountaineering techniques. At 2 p.m., Rangers took the injured climber to a waiting Lake Placid Ambulance.

Forest Rangers working on steep snowy hill to rescue climber
Rangers rescue ice climber in North Elba

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 31 at 1:24 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call for assistance at a location between Dial and Nippletop mountains for a hiker with health issues, including potential hypothermia. Forest Rangers Mecus and Lewis responded. The 34-year-old from Ballston Spa was with a hiking companion and was well prepared for a day hike, but concerned her symptoms would get worse as the pair hiked down and lost cell service. At 4:55 p.m., Rangers located the subjects on Lake Road and gave them a courtesy ride to their vehicle. The hiker stated she would seek further medical assistance on her own and the incident concluded at 5:20 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 31 at 5:10 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County about a group of 19-year-olds at Marcy Dam reporting one member of their party was suffering from alcohol poisoning. Forest Rangers Evans, Mecus, and Lewis responded. At 5:55 p.m., Rangers determined three teens were intoxicated. Due to the potentially life-threating situation, Rangers assisted one of the teenagers to South Meadows Road and the Adirondak Loj where he was taken to the hospital by Lake Placid Ambulance. The remaining two teenagers were transferred to NYSP after their admission of using alcohol and hallucinogens. Resources were clear at 8:24 p.m.

Town of Duanesburg
Schenectady County
Off-Road Law Enforcement:
On Jan. 2, Central Dispatch received a call about vehicles off-roading on Featherstonhaugh State Forest. Forest Ranger Mitchell responded to the area and met with NYSP and the owners of the vehicles. The owners brought the Ranger and Troopers to the vehicles that got stuck on a snowmobile trail. NYSP requested a tow, which required more than three hours of work and a skid steer with a recovery winch to remove the vehicles. Ranger Mitchell issued tickets to both drivers related to motor vehicle use on State lands.

Red truck stuck in deep mud in the woods
Truck stuck after off-roading on snowmobile trail

white truck stuck in deep mud in the woods
Truck stuck after off-roading on snowmobile trail

muddy trail in the woods with deep tire marks where trucks were stuck
Damaged snowmobile trail in Schenectady County

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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