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For Release: Tuesday, March 15, 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 hundreds of 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
Technical Rope Rescue Training:
On March 4, Forest Rangers in the technical rope rescue cadre from DEC Regions 3 and 4 met at Kaaterskill Falls for winter rescue training. Nine Rangers participated in the training, which includes traversing steep terrain in snow and ice, and using crampons and ice axes. Rangers also practiced safely and efficiently moving an immobilized patient through mountain terrain.

Rangers practice rope training on steep side of cliff
Rangers Ellis and Kreft conduct technical rope rescue training

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On March 7, 14 Forest Rangers conducted the annual Flat Ice Rescue Training at DEC's Cranberry Lake Complex. Four members of DEC's Division of Environmental Remediation Spill Response Unit also attended. The classroom portion of the training included pre-planning, response, and coordination of flat ice rescue incidents. The field portion of the training highlighted self-rescue techniques, along with reach, throw, and go responses. The Region 6 airboat was deployed to provide operators and crew with additional training to deliver personnel to the scene and safely transition victims from the water to the deck of the airboat. The Region 6 airboat was recently used in the rescue of stranded subjects in Lyonsdale, Lewis County.

Rangers approach ice from open water on large boat
Flat ice rescue training

Ranger laying flat on ice while two others are in the water during rescue training
Flat ice rescue training

Town of Wilton
Saratoga County
Search and Rescue Training:
On March 9, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Ganswindt and Rangers Baker and St. Claire led a search and land navigation course for the Saratoga County Sheriff's Special Operations Team. Rangers explained terrain analysis through map reading, basic map and compass skills, and search techniques. Forest Rangers have a long history of partnering with the Sheriff's Department to conduct searches.

Forest Rangers and law enforcement sit in a classroom during training
Rangers lead training for Saratoga County Sheriff's Special Operations Team

Rangers and other law enforcement gather under a pavillion
Rangers lead training for Saratoga County Sheriff's Special Operations Team

Brush Burn Ban: From March 16 through May 14, New York's annual statewide ban prohibiting brush burning is in effect. Since 2009, DEC has enforced the ban to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires each spring. Backyard fire pits and campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter are allowed. Small cooking fires are allowed, but only charcoal or dry, clean, untreated, or unpainted wood can be burned. People should never leave these or any fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York 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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