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For Release: Tuesday, August 16, 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 Watson
Lewis County
Mountain Bike Accident:
On Aug. 8 at 3:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Evans responded to a call for a mountain biker who suffered a concussion on the Otter Creek Horse Trail approximately one-half mile from the trailhead. When Ranger Evans reached the 54-year-old from Pennsylvania, the subject was complaining of injuries to his knees and elbows and had no memory of what happened. The subject's party indicated that he had hit a maple syrup line causing his ejection from the bike. Ranger Evans provided first aid and did a spinal assessment. Ranger Hanno, ECO Jarecki, and Martinsburg Fire helped transport the subject to a Lewis County Search and Rescue ambulance. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Towns of Haverstraw and Highlands
Orange and Rockland Counties
Wildland Fires:
On Aug. 8, Forest Rangers responded to two wildland fire calls at Harriman State Park, the first at 4:25 p.m. in the town of Highlands, Orange County, and the second at 4:47 p.m. in the town of Haverstraw, Rockland County. Rangers Pries and Rusher worked with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to secure a perimeter around the 2.6-acre Rockland County fire. Thiells, Tallman, Hillcrest, Hillburn, Sloatsburg, Stony Point, Pearl River, Blauvelt, Congers, Munsey, and New County fire departments also assisted. Ranger Pries then responded to the Highlands fire, where he assisted Ranger Jahn in constructing a fire line. State Parks, Stony Point Fire, West Point Fire, and Fort Montgomery Fire helped get the six-acre fire under control. On Aug. 10, both fires were put in patrol status. Video of the fire in Highlands can be found on DEC's website.

Smokey landscape with flames coming from the area beyond some rocks
Harriman State Park fire in Highlands

large, bright orange flames burn in a forest area
Harriman State Park fire in Highlands

Forest Ranger dressed in yellow fire gear helps extinguish wildfire
Harriman State Park fire in Haverstraw

Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County
Wildland Fire:
On Aug. 9 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger Gagne responded to a fire at the Yaphank Landfill. By 9 p.m., the 1.9-acre fire was put in patrol status. The next day, Rangers Gagne and Scott assisted the Pine Barrens Commission to extinguish hot spots. Responders also bulldozed a fire line to prevent the fire from spreading. On Aug. 14, the fire was declared out.

Forest Rangers in the woods where it was recently burned by a fire
Yaphank Landfill fire

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wildland Fire Update:
The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area wildland fire that began Aug. 7, is currently in patrol status. Twelve Forest Rangers and four DEC-trained firefighters continued with suppression efforts throughout the week. The fire is suspected to have started as an unattended campfire before spreading to at least five acres. When weather permitted, Rangers worked with New York State Police Aviation to fly to a safe landing zone approximately one-quarter mile from the fire. Rangers also arrived by boat and hiked approximately three miles in to the fire, which was on a cliff, approximately 300 feet in elevation.

DEC continues to urge New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when building campfires this summer. Dry weather throughout June and July increased the risk of fires. More information about how to reduce the risk of wildfires can be found at DEC's website.

Aerial view from helicopter of smoky wildfire below
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area fire

Forest Ranger on steep incline helping extinguish wildfire
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area fire

Town of Putnam Valley
Putnam County
Wildland Fire:
On Aug. 10 at 4 p.m., Forest Ranger Pries responded to a wildland fire at Fahnestock State Park. The fire began as an unextinguished campfire that burned into the ground. Ranger Pries, State Parks staff, and Putnam Valley Fire brought the fire under control. DEC reminds campers to never leave a campfire unattended; even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly. When finished, campers are advised to drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath.

Scorched land where fire burned leaves on forest floor
Fahnestock State Park fire

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 13 at 1:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Quinn, Sabo, and Savarie responded with Assistant Forest Rangers to a call for a hiker with a knee injury on the Lillian Brook trail. When Rangers reached the 51-year-old from Warrensburg, the hiker advised she had dislocated her knee, but as a nurse, knew how to get it back into place. Rangers packaged the subject into a wheeled litter and brought her one-and-a-half miles back to the trailhead. The subject sought further medical attention on her own. Resources were clear at 7:10 p.m.

Rangers carrying injured hiker on wheeled litter down a trail in the woods
Lillian Brook trail rescue

Town of North Hudson
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 14 at 1:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Evans and Lee responded to a call for a subject injured by a horse. The 72-year-old from Owego was at the South Creek Horse Trails in the Independence River Wild Forest. Ranger Evans reached the subject at 2:15 p.m. Her party stated she was walking next to the horse when it reared up and came down on top of her. The subject complained of neck, chest, back, shoulder, and arm pain. Rangers called for aviation assistance and packaged the subject into a litter to carry her one-half mile to Moose Pines Road where Lewis County Search and Rescue EMS met the group with an ambulance. The subject was driven to a landing zone and flown to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for treatment. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 14, at 7:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Allwine and Gullen responded to a call from a distressed hiker near the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. Two adults and seven children had planned a trip from Notch Lake trailhead to the fire tower, but didn't leave until approximately 3:30 p.m. When the group reached the fire tower, they realized they were running out of daylight and didn't have the necessary headlamps, warm clothes, or water. Rangers reached the group by 9:45 p.m., and helped the hikers back to the trailhead.

Even in the summer months, temperatures get cold at night in the mountains, putting people at risk for hypothermia. Rangers remind everyone to know their limits, check the forecast, and plan ahead.

night-time photo of fire tower and Forest Ranger vehicles
Hunter Mountain rescue

Village of Oriskany
Oneida County
Forest Ranger Academy:
The Division of Forest Protection's 23rd Basic School for Forest Rangers continued at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. Ranger recruits recently received training in Swiftwater/Flood Rescue, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, Nature and Control of Civil Disorder, and Crash Management. Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned to patrol public lands across the state.

Two Ranger recruits on a yellow raft in the water during training
Ranger recruits at swiftwater/flood rescue training

Two Ranger recruits come up for air in the water during training
Ranger recruits at swiftwater/flood rescue training

Ranger recruits take a group photo in front of rushing water training area
Ranger recruits at swiftwater/flood 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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