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For Release: Tuesday, January 25, 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 from across New York State.

In 2021, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests. Some of these incidents featured each week result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, the "DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights" is transitioning to a new title, "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 Hunter
Greene County
North-South Lake Ranger Headquarters:
The DEC Operations team in Region 4 worked to repair the Forest Ranger headquarters and give it a much-needed facelift over the course of the last few months. Walls, gutters, and soffits were repaired, new siding installed, and heat and internet systems upgraded. This building is vitally important to the Forest Rangers as it serves as a central emergency equipment storage location for Region 4 Zone A and Greene County. Stokes baskets, rescue wheels, Skeds, rope rescue equipment, and a utility terrain vehicle with a slip-on unit for a water tank are all kept inside the building. The Ranger headquarters also houses a portable radio repeater to enhance communications around the Kaaterskill Falls area. The now-renovated building will serve the Rangers for many years to come.

Construction working at small building, doing work on a ladder
Work on the Region 4 Forest Rangers headquarters

small building with newly completed siding and doors
Work completed at the Region 4 Forest Rangers headquarters

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 19 at 1 p.m., Forest Rangers Martin and Sabo responded to a personal locator beacon activated for an injury report half a mile from Camp Santanoni, approximately 4.5 miles from the trailhead. The hiker's companions were keeping her warm while waiting for help to arrive. Rangers reached the 22-year-old hiker from Maine one-half hour later and stabilized the knee injury. With the help of the Newcomb Fire Department, Rangers transported the hiker back to Camp Santonini, where she declined further medical attention.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 20 at 10:45 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Ranger assistance for a 63-year-old with a hip injury. The hiker from Orangeburg was approximately three-quarters of a mile in on Cobble Lookout Trail. Forest Rangers Balerno, Black, Bode, Evans, and Lewis responded. At 11:37 a.m., Ranger Black reached the subject and assessed the injury. Rangers packaged the hiker and carried her out to Wilmington EMS who transported the subject to the hospital for treatment. Resources were clear at 1 p.m.

Rangers kneel and help hiker in snowy woods
Rangers rescue injured hiker in Wilmington

Rangers pull injured hiker on sled through snowy woods
Rangers rescue an injured hiker in Wilmington

Village of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Recovery:
On Jan. 20 at 5:36 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call for Ranger assistance from Washington County 911 after a hiker reported finding a body at the base of Shelving Rock Falls in the Lake George Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Laczko, St. Claire, Savarie, Donegan, and Kabrehl responded. At 6:44 p.m., Rangers located the subject approximately one-third of the way up the falls. Using technical rope rescue techniques, Rangers lowered the deceased subject from the ledge in a sled. From the ground, Rangers conducted a low-angle carry up the hill. Once out the woods, the subject was turned over to the county coroner. Resources were clear at 9:12 p.m. New York State Police (NYSP) identified the hiker as 55-year-old Timothy Gillen of Peekskill.

Town of Sherburne
Chenango County
Rogers Environmental Education Center
Winter Living Celebration:
On Jan. 22, Rangers Oldroyd, Burkholder, and Oldroyd presented flat ice rescue demonstrations at the Rogers Environmental Education Center Winter Living Celebration. Rangers spoke to event attendees about how to safely recreate on iced-over lakes and ponds. Throughout the day, Rangers demonstrated how to self-rescue and how to help rescue someone else who falls through the ice. Once out of the water, it's important to stay low and distribute body weight as much as possible. The Forest Ranger airboat was also on display. The airboat operates on open water and ice to help rescuers bring rescued subjects back to shore.

Ranger speaking to people standing behind a barrier in the snow
Ranger Burkholder talks about ice safety

Large hole cut out of ice, with Ranger on their stomach crawling away from the hole
Ranger demonstrates how to climb out of the water

Ranger kneels and gives demonstration to people behind a guard rail
Rangers teach proper use of throw bag

Large silver and grey boat-shaped vessel with a fan on the back as a motor
DEC airboat

Town of Windham
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 22 at approximately 2:30 p.m., Central Dispatch contacted Ranger Fox about an exhausted and hypothermic subject on the Escarpment Trail near Burnt Knob in the town of Windham. Rangers Fox, Mitchell, and Skudlarek responded. At 6:45 p.m., Rangers reached the 24-year-old from Milford and his hiking companion approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The hiker was unable to walk. Ranger Mitchell built a warming fire and Rangers provided the subject with food, hot drinks, and dry gear. More resources were requested in the event the subject was unable to hike out on his own and Rangers Jackson and Martin also responded. The subject's condition improved so Rangers provided lighter snowshoes and trekking poles and carried the hiker's pack to help him make it back to the trailhead. The subject declined further medical care and was given a ride home by his family. Resources were clear at 8:30 p.m.

flashlight shines on a hiker that has been wrapped up in an emergency blanket while Rangers help them get warm
Rangers warm hiker during rescue

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 22, at 7:41 p.m., Forest Ranger Scott was on patrol and encountered a subject on the Newcomb-Blue Mountain Lake snowmobile trail with symptoms of a stroke. Ranger Scott transported the 73-year-old man from Indian Lake by snowmobile to Ranger headquarters on State Route 30. Blue Mountain Lake EMS provided further medical assistance. Resources were clear at 8:10 p.m.

Town of Ellery
Chautauqua County
Public Outreach:
On Jan. 22, Ranger Robitaille attended Bemus Point Winterfest, which is sponsored by local snowmobile clubs in Chautauqua County to raise funds for trail maintenance and operations. Ranger Robitaille discussed snowmobile safety and regulations, as well as his duties as a Forest Ranger. Other agencies in attendance included the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department and NYSP.

Ranger and law enforcement lined up on snowmobiles
Ranger Robitaille (L) and partners at Bemus Point Winterfest

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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