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For Release: Tuesday, August 23, 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."

Village of Altamont and Town of Walton
Albany and Delaware Counties
Public Outreach:
During the week of Aug. 15, Forest Rangers attended the Altamont and Delaware County Fairs. Rangers educated attendees about hiking safety, how to be prepared in the outdoors, fire safety, and State land use regulations. Additionally, Rangers demonstrated tools and equipment used for backcountry search and rescue missions, including the wheeled litter. Rangers also explained job duties and provided recruitment information to aspiring Forest Rangers.

Ranger standing at informational table
Ranger Mitchell at Altamont Fair

Forest Ranger informational table
Delaware County Fair

Town of Ramapo
Rockland County
Wildland Fire:
On Aug. 15 at 6:40 p.m., Forest Rangers and members of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation responded to the Wanoksink Fire in Harriman State Park. By 11 p.m., the fire had spread to 12 acres. Rangers started burning a control line to keep the fire contained to a 34-acre area. By Aug. 17, the fire was put into patrol status. Drone video of the fire is available for download at DEC's website. The fire is believed to have started as an unattended campfire. DEC continues to urge New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when building campfires this summer.

Forest Rangers stand in a smoky forest while extinguishing wildland fire
Wanoksink fire

Forest Ranger extinguishing wildland fire on a trail in the woods
Wanoksink fire

Aerial view of wildland fire, smoke coming up above the trees
Wanoksink fire

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 19 at 6:10 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a severely dehydrated 28-year-old subject hiking Whiteface Mountain. Ranger Lewis hiked down from the summit and reached the hiker from Chicago at 7:25 p.m. Ranger Lewis provided food and water before walking the subject out to the highway and giving her a courtesy ride to her vehicle. Resources were clear at 9 p.m.

hiker sitting on rocks with Forest Ranger jacket on, mountain views in the background
Whiteface Mountain rescue

Town of Fine
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m., two hikers called for assistance on the Cranberry Lake 50, reporting that one of the pair was suffering from a knee injury and dehydration. Forest Ranger Benzel responded by boat and picked up the 59-year-old from North Tonawanda. Ranger Benzel brought the subjects back to the High Falls trailhead. The subject advised he would seek medical attention on his own. Resources were clear at 8:20 p.m.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Enforcement:
On Aug. 20 at 8 a.m., Forest Ranger Franceschina received several photos of a couple camped on the summit of Wittenberg Mountain. Rangers Franceschina and Martin responded, but by the time they reached the summit at approximately 11:30 a.m., the subjects had left the area. Rangers continued their foot patrol, checking neighboring peaks and the Terrace Mountain lean-to. Rangers spoke to passing hikers and determined the illegal campers were on their way back to the trailhead. At 4 p.m., Rangers found the pair and issued tickets for camping above 3,500 feet and having a fire above 3,500 feet in the Catskill Park.

Between March 22 and Dec. 20, camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills, except in an emergency. Fires are prohibited above 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks and 3,500 feet in the Catskills, except in an emergency.

people camping on some rocks on a mountain
Illegal camping on Wittenberg Mountain

hammocks and other camping gear at an illegal campsite
Illegal camping on Wittenberg Mountain

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 20 at 11:15 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a 72-year-old who dislocated her hip approximately two miles up the trail on Ampersand Mountain. An off-duty paramedic helped the subject before Rangers arrived. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation inserted Ranger Evans at the summit, where hikers volunteered to help Ranger Evans carry rescue equipment down to the injured hiker. Ranger Mecus was then inserted to assist with the extraction. The Rangers packaged the subject and she was flown to Adirondack Medical Center. Resources were clear at 2 p.m.

Town of Livonia
Livingston County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 20 at 10:20 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a call for a 33-year-old who walked away from the Hemlock Lake boat launch and hadn't been seen since 6 p.m. The subject was not wearing shoes or a shirt. Rangers searched overnight with the Livingston County Sheriff's Office using K9, thermal imaging, and linear search techniques. After sunrise, Captain Rogers and Ranger Dormer conducted shoreline searches by boat, while four other Rangers continued linear search work. At 11:00 a.m., a friend of the subject alerted authorities to his location and a Sheriff's Deputy walked him back to safety.

Forest Ranger in a red jacket driving a boat on the water
Ranger Dormer boat search at Hemlock Canadice State Forest

Town of Wawarsing
Ulster County
Wildland Fire:
On Aug. 21 at 4:30 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to the Losees Hill Fire behind Laurel Mountain Road in Wawarsing. Rangers worked on bulldozer lines to contain the fire to 2.5 acres. Rangers were assisted by multiple volunteer fire departments and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. By 10:40 p.m., the fire was 75 percent contained. Drone video of the fire is available for download at DEC's website.

Dry weather throughout the summer has increased the risk of fires. More information about how to reduce the risk of wildfires can be found at DEC's website.

Aerial view of wildland fire burning, smoke rising up above the trees
Losees Hill fire

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 21 at 3:30 p.m., six Forest Rangers, an Assistant Forest Ranger, and the Marcy Summit Steward responded to a call for a hiker with a significant knee injury near the summit of Mount Marcy. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation attempted to insert Ranger Evans, but strong winds made the insertion unsafe. At 6 p.m., a second attempt approximately one mile away from the subject near Indian Falls was successful. Ranger Evans hiked the mile to the 57-year-old from Schenectady, who was accompanied by his 15-year-old son. While Ranger Evans provided first aid, nine additional Rangers, two Assistant Rangers, and three volunteers from Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) and Northeast Mobile Search and Rescue (NEMSAR) were hiking to their location. Rescuers used backpack carriers to bring the subject more than three miles out from the summit where they were met by Lake Placid EMS. The subject was taken to Adirondack Medical Center for further care. Resources were clear at 3:15 a.m.

Forest Rangers wearing headlamps carrying injured hiker down a trail at night
Mount Marcy rescue

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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