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For Release: Tuesday, April 26, 2022

DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review

Recent Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

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.

"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 Brookhaven, Guilderland, and Lysander
Albany, Onondaga, and Suffolk Counties
Prescribed Burn:
On April 18, Forest Rangers conducted a prescribed burn in the grasslands of the Rocky Point Pine Barrens in the town of Brookhaven. Rangers treated 98 acres to protect the nesting habitats of grassland birds. Rangers also treated seven acres of land to reduce fuels created when southern pine beetles infested and killed trees in this area.

On April 22, Forest Rangers, DEC Wildlife Staff, and Bureau of Invasive Species staff conducted a prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in the town of Lysander. A total of 30.7 acres of warm-season grass was treated with fire to improve and maintain grassland habitat for wildlife.

On April 24, Forest Rangers, DEC Staff, and staff from the Albany Pine Bush Commission conducted a prescribed burn of 10 acres in the Albany Pine Bush.

Ranger walking through dry grass with fire burning in the background
Ranger Oldroyd at prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

fire burns in a field near a road
Prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Forest Rangers lined up in a field for a picture during prescribed burn
Prescribed burn at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area

Ranger Carefully walks through a wooded area while monitoring a prescribed burn
Ranger Sabo at prescribed burn in Suffolk County

smoky picture of prescribed fire buning in a field near some trees
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Lenox
Madison County
Search Training:
On April 20 and 23, Rangers Lunt and Virkler instructed 22 people in the Basic Wildland Search Skills Course at the Madison County Emergency Management Training Center. Wildland searches require skilled resources from multiple agencies and this course gives students a basic understanding of how to participate in a wildland search for a lost or missing person.

Group poses for photo in front of large warehouse
Wildland search skills course

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County
Regional Swift Water Training:
On April 21, Forest Rangers practiced swift water rescue and navigation skills at Zoar Valley Unique area. The Rangers used rafts and kayaks to navigate the difficult terrain and practice maneuvering around obstacles.

Ranger in kayak on the water during training
Swift water rescue training

Town of Millerton
Dutchess County
Technical Rope Rescue Training:
On April 21, Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 3 and 4 held a technical rope rescue exercise at Taconic State Park in the town of Millerton. The exercise consisted of a simulated rescue from a technical area on the Brace Mountain Trail. Rangers used a high-angle alpine lower with a deflection system to remove a subject from a narrow shelf of a waterfall. Rangers are working with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation staff to prepare for potential backcountry incidents in the area.

Rangers get ready for training with ropes tied around trees and around themselves
Technical rope rescue training

Ranger uses ropes on the side of a steep cliff in the woods during training
Technical rope rescue training

Rangers practice using rescue tools during ropes training
Technical rope rescue training

Ranger carries rescue cage up a steep cliff while attached to ropes during training
Technical rope rescue training

Town of Hyde Park
Dutchess County
Animal Recovery:
On April 21 at 5 p.m., Rangers Gullen and Sweeney responded to Norrie Pointe State Park after a call from the park manager that a dog fell into a culvert. With the dog's owners looking on, Ranger Sweeney helped Ranger Gullen into the culvert where Ranger Gullen eventually found the dog, deceased. Resources were clear at 8 p.m.

view of a Ranger going down a culvert pipe attached to a rope
Ranger Gullen working to recover a dog

Town of Colonie
Albany County
Bucket Training:
On April 22, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Gullen, Lewis, Martin, Nally, Savarie, and Thompson took part in helicopter bucket training with the New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation Unit. Rangers helped guide the helicopter pilot down to the water to fill up the 240 gallon bucket and then determine the proper altitude to dump the water on top of wildfires. During this exercise, the crews hit targets to ensure accuracy. Video of the training is available on DEC's YouTube channel (leaves DEC website).

Helicopter drops water from a large bucket during training
Bucket training with New York State Police Aviation

Town of Naples
Ontario County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 22 at 4:51 p.m., Yates County 911 called for Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker from Holley who claimed she was stranded in Clark Gully. Ranger Dormer responded and called the hiker to assess the situation. The Ranger established a Unified Command with Naples Fire and Ambulance. The first search team made voice contact with the subject, who was located in a feeder stream to Clark Gully. Ontario County High Angle Rope Rescue Team members set up a rope system to help the hiker out of the stream. Once rescued, the subject declined further medical attention. Resources were clear at 8:15 p.m.

Rangers with group of people during a rescue call
Wilderness rescue team in Naples

Village of Greenwood Lake
Orange County
Wildland Fire:
On April 22 at 4:45 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a brush fire likely started by a fire pit in the Greenwood Lake area. Rangers Franceschina and Jahn helped extinguish the six-acre fire and put out hot spots the next day. The fire was declared out on April 23 at 3:43 p.m.

burned area of land after fire
Greenwood Lake fire

Town of Brookfield
Madison County
Underage Drinking Enforcement:
On April 22, Rangers Oldroyd and Virkler were patrolling in the vicinity of Charles Baker State Forest when they encountered a line of 13 vehicles, including three pickup trucks loaded with pallets, entering Charles Baker State Forest. The Rangers interviewed the individuals in the vehicles, who admitted they were going to have a party on the State Forest. The group included approximately 30 people ranging in age from 15 to 19 years old. An 18-year-old from Norwich had three cases of beer. Rangers issued a ticket for underage possession of alcohol on a State Forest. After ensuring none of the drivers were impaired and notifying the parents of the minors involved, Rangers cleared the scene.

Town of Corinth
Saratoga County
Search and Rescue Training:
On April 22, Forest Ranger Baker took part in search and rescue training organized by Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue (LASAR). Rangers often work with LASAR members during large search missions. Members of Hudson Mohawk Search and Rescue were also in attendance.

people hiking up a hill during rescue training
Search and rescue training

City of Peekskill
Westchester County
Public Outreach:
On April 22, Forest Rangers Ashida, Cowart, and Sweeney participated in an Earth Day event at Peekskill High School. Approximately 500 students and faculty members participated. Rangers discussed their job and how it relates to the environment.

Rangers stand at an informational table during event
Rangers at Peekskill High School's Earth Day event

Otsego and Schoharie Counties
State Land Public Safety:
On April 23 and 24, Forest Ranger Petit received multiple phone calls from the public regarding trees that fell across access roads on Burnt-Rossman Hills State Forest, Arnold Lake State Forest, and Milford State Forest. Ranger Petit used a chainsaw to clear the trees and alleviate any public safety issues.

Large tree that has fallen across a road
Trees blocking access roads

ECO vehicle stopped at a downed tree
Trees blocking access roads

Town of Catskill
Greene County
Wildland Fire:
On April 24 at 2:16 p.m., Ranger Dawson responded to a wildfire in the town of Catskill. The fire started in a garage and spread to an adjacent wooded area. With the help of multiple fire departments, Ranger Dawson helped extinguish the flames, containing the fire to one acre. Ranger Dawson declared the fire out at 8:02 p.m.

Town of Ischua
Cattaraugus County
Wildland Fire:
On April 24 at 5:30 p.m., the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department requested Forest Ranger assistance with a brush fire in the town of Ischua. The 0.1-acre fire was put out by the Ischua Fire Department. Ranger Hettenbaugh issued a ticket for leaving a fire unattended and resources were clear at 8 p.m.

Town of Canadice
Ontario County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 24 at 2:44 p.m., Ontario County 911 contacted Forest Ranger Dormer about two hikers on Rob's trail, one of whom was reportedly dehydrated and unable to continue. Honeoye Volunteer Fire and Ambulance responded, as well. Ranger Dormer arrived by boat and coordinated rescue personnel from the Hemlock Lake boat launch. EMS members hiked in from Route 15A to help the subjects to the shoreline, where they were met by Ranger Dormer. The Ranger helped to hydrate the subjects. The rescuers returned everyone to the boat launch approximately 2.5 miles away. The subjects refused further medical attention and resources were clear at 4:15 p.m.

Ranger approaches hiker on shoreline in Forest Ranger boat
Wilderness rescue in Canadice

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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