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For Release: Tuesday, April 5, 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 increase in people visiting State lands to experience New York's abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC's Forest Rangers continue to be 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 Esopus
Ulster County
Drone Mission:
On March 29, Forest Rangers Martin and Franceschina conducted a drone flight over a 200-acre mine in Ulster County. Rangers were requested to assist DEC's Division of Mineral Resources in documenting the progress of a mine reclamation project. Rangers used multiple small unmanned aircraft systems to collect photos and videos of the site. Flights will be conducted again later this year to document the progress of the project. DEC maintains a large Unmanned Aviation Unit consisting of members from several divisions including the Division of Forest Protection, which has several highly trained, FAA-certified Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilots across the state. Rangers use drones to assist with search and rescue operations, fighting wildfires, and other non-emergency missions as requested.

aerial view of former mine
Drone mission at mine reclamation project

aerial view of large waterbody in former mine
Drone mission at mine reclamation project

two rangers holding small drones
Rangers Martin and Franceschina at drone mission

Hamlet of Valhalla
Westchester County and
Town of Pleasant Valley
Dutchess County
Fire Suppression Training:
On March 30, Forest Rangers Parlier and Sweeney taught the DEC Basic Wildland Fire Suppression course to recruits at the Yonkers Career Fire Academy. On April 2 and 3, Forest Rangers Parlier and Sweeney taught the course to eight fire departments in Dutchess County. These field exercises took place at Taconic Hereford Multiple Use Area in Pleasant Valley and more than two dozen firefighters attended. All participants learned about fire suppression techniques, as well as fire behavior and how weather plays a role in wildland firefighting.

ranger raking leaves to make a path
Fire suppression training in Dutchess County

training group poses for a photo with rakes
Fire suppression training in Dutchess County

trainee digs along the edge of a path during fire suppression training
Fire suppression training in Dutchess County

trainees rake across a path made in the leaves in the woods
Fire suppression training in Dutchess County

Ranger shows trainees different tools for training
Ranger Parlier leads training at the Westchester Fire Academy

Town of Windham
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 2 at approximately 8:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch notified Forest Ranger Fox of a hiker who was vomiting and unable to continue hiking in the Elm Ridge Wild Forest. Ranger Fox made contact with the subject, a 77-year-old from Farmingdale, who was experiencing nausea and weakness. After determining the subject's location on the Escarpment Trail, Rangers Fox, Gullen, and Mitchell hiked in to meet him and his hiking partner, who were slowly continuing. Rangers provided hot fluids and food, and started a fire to warm the pair. Eventually, the subject recovered enough strength to continue. Rangers carried his pack and assisted the subject out of the woods. Rangers provided a courtesy transport to the subject's vehicle at the East Windham trailhead. Resources were clear at 2:30 a.m.

Ranger leads hiker out of dark woods while wearing a headlamp to light the way
Rangers rescue hiker in Windham

hiker sits next to fire while getting rescued
Rangers rescue hiker in Windham

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 3 at 9:30 a.m., Forest Rangers Evans and Lewis responded to a call for an injured hiker on Big Slide Mountain. At 11:25 a.m., Ranger Evans found the 34-year-old from Scotia, splinted the hiker's injured shoulder, and helped her to the trailhead. Ranger Lewis and Keene Valley EMS were hiking up from the Garden trailhead and met the group to provide pain medication. Rangers assisted the subject back to the trailhead at approximately 1 p.m.

Town of Wells
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 3 at 3:14 p.m., Forest Ranger Nally overheard a Hamilton County radio call for an injured subject on the Auger Falls trail. Ranger Nally responded with Wells Fire, Speculator Fire, Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputies, New York State Police, and ambulances from Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Wells Ambulance. A Sheriff's Deputy located the 61-year-old from Connecticut, who was hiking up from the falls when he fell and injured his right knee. A passing hiker saw the subject and drove into Speculator to call for help. Ranger Nally worked with other rescuers to splint the subject's leg before packaging him into a wheeled litter. The subject was then transported by Wells ambulance to the hospital. Resources were clear by 4 p.m.

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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