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For Release: Tuesday, April 19, 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 Rush, Lysander, and Cicero
Monroe and Onondaga Counties
Prescribed Burn:
On April 11, Forest Rangers conducted a prescribed burn at Rush Oak Openings Unique Area. Rangers burned approximately 50 acres of warm season grasses to maintain proper vegetative cover. On April 11 and 12, Forest Rangers, DEC Wildlife Staff, and DEC Wildland Firefighters conducted prescribed burns at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in the town of Lysander and Cicero Swamp Wildlife Management Area in the town of Cicero. A total of 67 acres were burned in an effort to improve and maintain grassland habitat for wildlife.

ranger leans over using tool with prescribed burn in the background
Prescribed burn in Rush Oak

Rangers monitor prescribed fire in a field
Prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Rangers control prescribed burn in a field near woods
Prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wildland Rescue:
On April 11 at 1:07 p.m., Raybrook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 advising that a hiker had sustained a head injury near the summit of Rondaxe Mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Hoag and Rangers Evans, McCartney, Milano, Miller, Shea, and Thomes responded. EMTs from Old Forge Ambulance administered care to the 57-year-old hiker from Sherrill. Rangers conducted the technical rope work necessary to safely lower the subject down the mountain through four steep-angle locations to an ambulance. The hiker was transported to Old Forge Airport where Mercy Flight flew him to the hospital. Also assisting in the rescue were members of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, Old Forge Fire, Inlet Fire, Eagle Bay Fire, and Webb Police. Resources were clear by 4:30 p.m.

Rangers and a group of hikers help carry an injured hiker off the summit of a mountain
Rondaxe Mountain rescue

Town of Caneadea
Allegany County
Public Assistance:
On April 13 at 2:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Krulish and Thaine received a report of two anglers stranded in a pickup truck on Allen Lake State Forest. Rangers spoke to the 68- and 72-year-olds and determined they were following GPS directions after a fishing trip and ended up on an abandoned road, unable to turn around. Because one of the subjects needed their medication, which was back at their camp, Rangers walked in and escorted the subjects back to their camp. A tow truck with specialized off-road equipment arrived at 9:15 p.m. to assist the stuck vehicle and resources were clear by 10 p.m.

nighttime view of a tow truck with bright lights towing a blue truck out of some mud
Truck towed from Allen Lake State Forest

Town of Washington
Dutchess County
Wildland Fire:
On April 14 at 2:55 p.m., Forest Ranger Sweeney responded to a fire on Valley Farm Road in the town of Washington. The illegal debris burning scorched 38 acres of private land. After making sure the fire was under control, Ranger Sweeney returned over the next two days to mop up hot spots. By April 16 at 12:43 p.m., the fire was declared out. The 82-year-old homeowner was issued tickets for violating the State's burn ban.

New York's annual statewide brush burning ban is in effect through May 14. Since 2009, DEC enforces 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.

scorched trees and earth from wildland fire
Wildland fire in town of Washington

Towns of Warrensburg and Horicon
Warren County
Wildland Fire:
On April 14 at 9:30 p.m., National Grid requested Forest Ranger assistance during a storm response to bring a power line across the Schroon River in the towns of Warrensburg and Horicon after the previous line was damaged. Using a line gun, Rangers used their expertise in swift water navigation techniques to safely establish a line and haul rope across the seasonally elevated river. This allowed the National Grid crews to pull new primary wires across and continue their work to restore power to the northern Bolton area.

Town of Corinth
Saratoga County
Wildland Fire:
On April 15 at 2:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildland fire off of County Route 10 in the town of Corinth. Rangers Baker, Poulton, and St. Claire responded, in addition to the Corinth, Edinburg, and Greenwich fire departments. The fire started with an outdoor campfire for cooking and spread to 7.8 acres, destroying a cabin. At 9:12 p.m., the fire was put into patrol status and declared out on April 16.

Town of Olive
Ulster County
Wildland Fire:
On April 15 at 3:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Franceschina, Martin, and Rusher responded to a report of a fire in the town of Olive. The fire was caused by downed powerlines and burned approximately four acres of land. The fire was officially declared out on April 16 at 12:38 p.m.

Town of Wawarsing
Ulster County
Wildland Fire:
On April 15 at 4:50 p.m. Ulster County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with a fire at Foordmore Road in the town of Wawarsing. Rangers Franceschina and Rusher responded to the fire, which spread to 12 acres. By 7:30 p.m., Rangers put the fire in patrol status. The next morning, Rangers returned to put out the remaining hotspots.

Ranger helping extinguish a wildland fire
Ranger Rusher at fire in town of Wawarsing

Town of Woodhull
Steuben County
Wildland Fire:
On April 15 at 3 p.m., Steuben County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with a brush fire in the town of Woodhull. Rangers Cordell and Roberts responded and declared the fire contained at 4:17 p.m. The fire was caused by downed power lines and burned 4.7 acres.

Village of Waverly
Chemung County
Wildland Fire:
On April 15 at 6:10 p.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officer Lifrieri contacted Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens about a brush fire on Drybrook Road in the village of Waverly. Rangers Burkholder, Cordell, and Roberts, as well as multiple responding fire departments, put out the 15-acre fire. Ranger Roberts determined the fire started with someone burning brush. Resources were clear at 8:50 p.m. DEC's investigation is ongoing.

Ranger in red jacket looks over wildland fire damage
Ranger Roberts at wildland fire in village of Waverly

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County
Swiftwater Rescue/Rope Training:
On April 16, Ranger Sprague participated in a multi-county swift water and technical rope training. More than 20 agencies including police, fire, and search and rescue teams participated. The day-long event focused on techniques using motorized boats and highline rope systems to rescue individuals who could become trapped in swift water conditions.

Rangers using rafts and tow lines during training in and aroudn the water
Swift water rescue training

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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