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For Release: Wednesday, April 13, 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."

Towns of Riverhead, Brookhaven, and Rathbone
Suffolk and Steuben Counties
Prescribed Burns:
On April 4 and 5, Forest Rangers conducted a prescribed burn at Otis Pike Pine Barrens State Forest in Suffolk County. Over two days, Rangers Bills, Gagne, Gallagher, Hicks, Lunt, Praczkajlo, Scott, Scott, Shea, and Thompson burned approximately 65 acres of grassland to maintain grassland nesting bird habitats. On April 5, Forest Rangers conducted a prescribed burn at Helmer Creek Wildlife Management Area in Steuben County. Rangers Carpenter, Dormer, Hettenbaugh, Rogers, and Staples burned approximately 45 acres of grassland to protect rattlesnake habitat. Both operations served as fire training for all involved.

Rangers use a hose at the back of a small Forest Ranger truck
Rangers Thompson, Scott, and Gagne at Otis Pike controlled burn

Rangers monitor controlled burn in a field
Rangers Praczkajlo, Scott, and Scott at Otis Pike controlled burn

Ranger carries hose as another Ranter monitors controlled fire
Rangers Bills and Hicks at Otis Pike controlled burn

Aerial view of scorched land from controlled burn
Steuben County controlled burn from drone

Two Rangers walk along smoky controlled burn
Helmer Creek controlled burn

Two firefighters and a Ranger look at weather tool
Ranger Carpenter instructs new firefighters on weather readings

Town of Jerusalem
Yates County
Fire Safety:
On April 6, Forest Ranger Dormer conducted a wildland fire safety course for 26 members of the Branchport Keuka Park Fire Department. The fire department is putting its UTV in service and the course helps ensure its members are trained to use it. Ranger Dormer discussed UTV tactics and required safety practices during a wildland fire.

Group photo of Ranger and other people during safety course
Ranger Dormer conducts wildland safety course

Chenango County
Town of Greene
Airboat Training:
On April 7, Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 4, 7, and 8 took part in airboat training. The Rangers used the Region 7 airboat on the Chenango River to maintain proficiency in operating the boat in swift water conditions.

Rangers on an airboat on the water
Airboat training

Town of Schuyler Falls
Clinton County
Crew Boss Training:
On April 7 and 8, Forest Rangers conducted a Crew Boss-level course for the Clinton, Essex, and Franklin county Sheriff's departments' Special Response Team (SRT). Ten members completed the certified training for search techniques, personnel management, and land navigation. Once certified, these individuals are better prepared to partner with Rangers and help coordinate search and rescue missions.

Rangers instruct others during training
Rangers provide Crew Boss training

A person kneels in the woods with a map and navigation tool during training
Learning navigation skills during Crew Boss training

Towns of Gardner and Shawangunk
Ulster County
Navigation Training:
On April 7 and 8, Forest Rangers Cowart, Jahn, Kreft, and Rusher led a land navigation course for 27 Wallkill Corrections Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) members from Shawangunk and Wallkill correctional facilities. Rangers taught terrain analysis, map reading, and compass skills and conducted a field exercise to practice these techniques. C.E.R.T. handles emergency situations in correctional facilities and are sometimes activated to assist Rangers with search missions in the field.

Group of people lined up in the rain during training
Navigation training

Rangers speaks to group of people during training
Navigation training

Town of Bristol
Ontario County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 8 at 11:37 a.m., Forest Ranger Dormer responded to a report of a State land user with a lower leg injury. Ranger Dormer was joined by BECI Lieutenant Didion, Environmental Conservation Police Officer Leavenway, New York State Police, and Bristol Fire Department. Rescuers stabilized the leg injured, loaded the subject into a litter, and brought him to an ATV for transport to a Canandaigua Ambulance. Resources were clear at 12:35 p.m.

Rangers and others help carry injured hiker through woods
Rescue in Ontario County

Hamlet of North River
Warren County
Swift Water Training:
On April 8, Forest Rangers from Region 5 took advantage of seasonally high waters on the Hudson River to train for emergency swift water rescues. Rangers used an inflatable rescue boat to perform whitewater maneuvers including ferry angles, j-turns, and upriver/downriver travel. These training exercises help Rangers perform at advanced levels when responding to incidents in difficult conditions.

Rangers on a red raft in the water during training
Swift water rescue training

Rangers on red raft in rough waters during training
Swift water rescue training

Town of Redfield
Oswego County
ATV Enforcement:
On April 9, Forest Rangers patrolled Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to curb illegal ATV activity connected to an event in Lewis County that previously resulted in damage when ATVs illegally travelled through the WMA. Rangers encountered approximately 30 ATVs and issued 21 tickets for illegal ATV operation on WMA roadways. One ticket was issued for an unregistered ATV. Several ATV operators were turned away before they could enter the WMA.

Town of Montague
Lewis County
Wildland Recovery:
On April 10 at 12:42 a.m. Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a missing 72-year-old. Frederick Moat, from Kirkwood, went missing during the SNIRT ATV/UTV run in the Tug Hill region of Lewis County. Ranger Lieutenants Hoag and Nowalk and Rangers Evans, Lee, Snyder, and Thomes responded along with DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, Lewis County Sheriff's Department, Lewis County Emergency Management Services, Martinsburg and Turin fire departments, and multiple volunteers. The search was challenging because of the large, six-town search area. Ranger Evans set up a command post in Martinsburg with crews checking in remotely, because they were searching areas up to an hour away. At 1 p.m., crews found the man's ATV stuck near a seasonal access road in the town of Montague. All crews were moved to that area to begin a ground search. At 2:15 p.m., Moat was found deceased. Rescue crews carried him approximately one-half mile out in swampy conditions to the road. Resources were clear at 4:35 p.m. Lewis County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

Town of Hancock
Delaware County
Rescue Training:
On April 10, Ranger Ellis assisted with rescue training at the Hancock Fire Department for the Delaware County Technical Rescue team and fire departments from throughout Delaware County. Ranger Ellis demonstrated techniques used during search and rescue missions. This training involved a live scenario of a low-angle rescue in a remote setting. The training provided participants with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each other since they will likely work together in the field. Rangers and other rescuers were involved in multiple technical rescues at Jensen Ledges, which borders State Forest Preserve land and the town of Hancock.

Rangers carry a rescue tool up a steep hill in the woods
Search and rescue training in Delaware County

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 10 at 8:15 p.m., Warren County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance regarding a group hiking Cat and Thomas mountains. One of the members got separated and called for help. Ranger Kabrehl responded to the coordinates provided by 911 and located the subject approximately one-half mile from the Edgecomb Pond trailhead. Ranger Kabrehl assisted the 18-year-old from the Bronx to the trailhead where the subject was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Resources were clear at 11:30 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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