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For Release: Tuesday, October 4, 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 Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 27 at 8 p.m., two hikers called 911 requesting a helicopter ride down from Allen Mountain. Forest Rangers Martin and Quinn and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Jackson advised that Rangers would hike up to help the pair. The 19- and 35-year-old hikers did not have headlamps, a map, a compass, or adequate food and water. Rangers reached the hikers from Utica at 10:40 p.m., and found the pair hypothermic and dehydrated. It was raining with temperatures in the 40s. Rangers provided warm clothing and food, and helped the hikers down to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 12:45 a.m. Allen Mountain is an approximately 20-mile round-trip hike. This was the pair's first attempt at a high peak. Hikers are reminded to prepare before heading outdoors, including knowing their limits and gearing up for a 24-hour trip, even if the hike is not planned to be long. Learn more at DEC's website.

UTV travelling on a woodsy trail in the dark
Hikers rescued from Allen Mountain

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
River Search:
On Sept. 29, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 reporting that a 60-year-old male fell into the Ausable River near the Flume Trail System. Local fire departments, EMS, and New York State Police responded and began the search. In the following days, State Police Dive and Aviation, K-9 units, and drone teams, as well as the Forest Ranger Swift Water Team and Wilmington and Saranac fire departments, worked to access pools and eddies by boat and utilizing rope systems to lower personnel into technical sections for underwater camera searches. The search is ongoing.

View from above a large ravine with water rushing through it
Ausable River flume search

Rangers in blue raft in the water during search
Ranger Swift Water Team searches the Ausable

Ranger stands on the top of a rocky cliff holding a rope during a search
Forest Ranger Morehouse assists in the Ausable search

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 1, Ranger Evans received notification of an injured hiker on the Street Mountain and Nye Mountain Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker had an unstable leg injury. After splinting the ankle, responding Forest Rangers coordinated a carry out with an Assistant Forest Ranger and Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks to Heart Lake where the hiker was given a canoe transport to the Lake Placid Ambulance for medical transport.

Rangers using carrier to get injured hiker out of the woods
Rangers Baldwin, Evans, and other rescuers conducting a carryout in the High Peaks Wilderness

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescues:
On Oct. 2, two separate incidents on Cascade Mountain were reported to Ray Brook Dispatch a little over an hour apart. At approximately 11:43 a.m., the caller reported a male hiker with a knee injury. Ranger Evans went to meet the injured hiker, but after splinting the injured knee, the hiker was unable to walk. At approximately 1 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a report from Essex County 911 of a subject that had fallen 80 feet from a cliff on Cascade. State Police Aviation assistance was requested to help evacuate the potentially injured hiker. Rangers boarded a State Police Helicopter and were inserted near the injured, but conscious, subject. The hiker was packaged and loaded into a litter, hoisted into the helicopter, and flown to a trauma center in Vermont. When that mission was complete, the helicopter was utilized to safely evacuate the subject with the injured knee. A long, labor-intensive carry out involving several Rangers was avoided, and the injured hiker was safely extracted to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

These back-to-back incidents are just two of many instances of the strong partnership between DEC's Division of Forest Protection Forest Rangers and the New York State Police Aviation Unit. Almost weekly, Forest Rangers join forces with State Police to search for lost or missing persons or rescue injured people in the backcountry. When someone is injured in the backcountry, getting the subject to a hospital can be an arduous task. Many backcountry trails are not passable by 4x4 vehicles or ATVs, leaving rescuers to carry those unable to walk out of the woods. In some instances, as many as 20 Forest Rangers are needed to evacuate an injured person 10 miles over rough terrain. If weather conditions allow in a suitable location, for nearly two decades State Police helicopter crews working with specially trained Forest Rangers have been undertaking some of DEC's most difficult rescue and recovery missions.

Helicopter hovers over thick woods as it carries injured hiker out of the woods
Aerial rescue of injured hiker from Cascade Mountain

Town of New Hudson
Allegany County
State Land Protection:
On Oct. 2, Forest Rangers received a report of a cannabis cultivation operation on Hanging Bog Wildlife Management Area. Rangers responded and located a site that had been cleared of trees to make space for 15 tended plants. The Rangers cut the plants and brought them offsite to be destroyed. Although marijuana laws have changed in the state, unlawful agricultural use of State lands is prohibited under New York's Environmental Conservation Law.

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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