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For Release: Tuesday, July 12, 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.

"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 Minerva
Essex County
Underage Drinking:
On July 4 at 1:10 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a report of a large group of off-duty camp counselors at an underage drinking party off the Boreas Trail in Minerva. Rangers issued 24 tickets for underaged possession of alcohol on State land and shuttled the subjects back to their camps. Resources were clear at 4:35 p.m.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 6 at 2 a.m., Forest Rangers were called to search for a group of campers returning from a hike to Mount Marcy. The 21- and 19-year-old group leaders were with a 15-year-old, two 13-year-olds, and a 12-year-old. Despite rain in the forecast and the group's general lack of hiking experience, their plan was to hike Marcy and Algonquin in one day. The group brought a spot beacon to stay in touch with people back at the camp and reached the summit of Marcy at 4:30 p.m. On the way down, the group lost the trail and ended up behind Lake Colden in waist deep water. They turned around and sent an SOS from the beacon at 12:15 a.m. The Lake Colden caretaker reached the campers at 4 a.m. Rangers Martin and Quinn reached the group at 5:15 a.m. The group did not have enough food and blankets. Rangers helped the group to the Colden outpost and provided dry clothes, as well as food, drink, and beds. The group slept until approximately 11 a.m., before Rangers helped them back to the trailhead by 4 p.m.

Five people hiking up steep rocks in the woods
Campers rescued

Town of Keene
Essex County
Illegal Camping:
On July 7, Rangers were alerted by Adirondack Mountain Club staff about two hikers camping above the last trail junction on the Van Hoevenberg Trail. An interior caretaker, Forest Ranger, and Assistant Forest Ranger escorted the subjects to Adirondak Loj. The Rangers issued nine tickets for multiple violations including camping above 4,000 feet, having a campfire in the Eastern High Peaks, and failure to maintain control of a dog.

two people with their dog cleaning up an illegal campsite
Illegal camping

Village of Tupper Lake
Franklin County
ATV Dumped:
On July 7 at 1:30 p.m., Forest Rangers DiCintio, O'Connor, and Praczkajlo were on boat patrol on Tupper Lake when they found an ATV submerged near the shoreline. Rangers looked at the tracks and determined someone drove the vehicle off the railroad bed and down a 20-foot embankment. The crashed vehicle still had fishing poles attached to it, as well as a 25-inch walleye hanging from the back rack. Rangers searched for an injured driver with negative results. A New York State Police trooper went to the owner's residence but was told the 41-year-old from Tupper Lake was out of town. Police eventually found him with a stolen winch he was planning to use to retrieve the ATV. ECO Newell issued three tickets to the owner and Rangers removed the ATV from the water.

ATV partially submerged in water
ATV dumped

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 9 at 12:15 p.m., Forest Rangers Dawson, Fox, and Skudlarek responded to Kaaterskill Falls for an injured hiker who had fallen off the stone staircase and down a steep slope. Ranger Dawson located the 12-year-old from Brooklyn, treated his unstable arm injury, and determined the subject could walk without bringing in additional rescue personnel for a carry-out. Ranger Dawson helped the subject and his family to the Route 23A trailhead where Hunter Ambulance was waiting to take him to Albany Medical Center. Resources were clear at 2:33 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 9 at 7:45 p.m., Central Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker experiencing persistent vomiting and weakness on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail. Ranger Fox responded with Haines Falls Fire, Tannersville Rescue, Cedar Grove, and Centerville Fire, Hunter Ambulance, and Greene County Paramedics. Ranger Fox reached the 23-year-old from Philadelphia by 8:30 p.m., and helped carry her out to Laurel House Road where the group was met by an ambulance to take the subject to the hospital.

Town of Easton
Washington County
Wilderness Recovery:
On July 10 at 1 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a six-year-old boy with autism last seen at his home in Easton at 10:10 a.m. Forest Rangers and an ECO Lieutenant joined members of New York State Police (NYSP), Albany County Sheriff's Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Greenwich Police, Middle Falls Fire/EMS, Argyle EMS, Greenwich Fire/EMS, and Northeast Mobile Search and Rescue. At 2:25 p.m., Rangers organized the search efforts with NYSP using aviation and a dive team at a pond where an angler reported seeing the boy at 11 a.m. Ranger Donegan followed several footprints in the area. At 6:35 p.m., Ranger Lieutenant Kerr followed the footprints to the water's edge of a smaller adjacent pond and saw something in the water. Lieutenant Kerr dove in and recovered the boy's body, which was turned over to the NYSP Greenwich Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Washington County Coroner. NYSP Greenwich Bureau of Criminal Investigations is leading the investigation.

Town of Johnsburg
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 10 at 11:30 a.m., Warren County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with an injured climber on Crane Mountain. Ranger Morehouse reached the trailhead when the caller reporting the incident said the 36-year-old from Ballston Spa made it out on her own. While at the trailhead, someone else requested assistance for a broken wrist. The Forest Ranger splinted the wrist of a 58-year-old from Stillwater. Ranger Morehouse then found the original climber, who still needed help with their ankle and knee injury. The Ranger administered first aid and helped the climber back to the trailhead.

Town of Fine
St. Lawrence County
Forest Ranger Academy:
The Division of Forest Protection's 23rd Basic School for Forest Rangers is underway at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Ranger School campus in Wanakena. Ranger recruits recently received training in Swimming and Water Survival, New York State Navigation Law, U.S. Coast Guard Rules to Navigation, and Use of Deadly Force and Defensive Tactics. Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned to patrol public lands across the state.

Rangers flipping a blue raft in the water
Swimming and water survival training

Aerial view of rangers in the water during training
Swimming and water survival training

Rangers fitted with protective head gear and boxing gloves during training
Use of deadly force and defensive tactics 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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