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For Release: Tuesday, October 11, 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 Benson
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 28 at 6 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with two hikers who became separated from each other on the Northville Placid Trail. Rangers Miller, Nally, and Thompson responded to the area and started checking trail registers before searching three different sections of the first 18 miles of the trail. Ranger Thompson located the 35-year-old from Arizona asleep at the primitive campsite where the hikers originally planned to meet. The hikers unknowingly passed each other at one point. Rangers ensured the hikers met up the following day.

Town of Thurman
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 1, at 9:30 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with students lost near Dippikill Pond. Ranger Thompson contacted the students via phone and responded to the area, where the Ranger made voice contact and reached the students a short time later. The students were cold, hungry, and thirsty, but healthy. The young people were on a day retreat through a local university, but the buses left while they were lost in the woods. Ranger Thompson provided warm clothing, food, water, and headlamps, and led the students out of the woods to the Dippikill Wilderness Retreat facility where they stayed until one of their parents picked them up the following morning. Resources were clear at 1:30 a.m.

Ranger and two hikers stand next to truck after rescue
Ranger Thompson rescues hikers near Dippikill Pond

Town of Naples
Ontario County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 7 at 4:33 p.m., Ontario County 911 reached out to Forest Ranger Dormer about three hikers stranded in the Parish Conklin Gully in High Tor Wildlife Management Area. Ranger Dormer responded to the scene, met with EMS and volunteers, and set up a Unified Command. Search teams approached the rim trail via UTV and the streambed by foot. At 5:47p.m., search teams located the hikers and determined rope rescues were the best option to get the subjects out safely. Rescue crews helped one hiker from Canandaigua by a low-angle rope technique, assisting her down some waterfalls, and back to the trailhead where she was warmed up in an ambulance. The other two hikers from Pennsylvania were evacuated by rescue crews via a 200-foot vertical rope hoist. Yates County Rope Rescue Team, Ontario County High Angle Rope Rescue Team, Naples Ambulance, and the Yates County Sheriff's Department all assisted in the rescue. Resources were clear at 9 p.m.

Ranger helps hiker out of a rocky gully with a rope during rescue
Parish Conklin Gully rescue

Rangers and rescue teams gather during search effort
Parish Conklin Gully rescue

Town of Wells
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Thompson heard radio traffic about a 19-year-old who fell into Austin Falls on the Sacandaga River and was stranded on the west side of the river. Ranger Thompson hiked down, located the subject from Speculator, and helped her back to her parents on the east side of the river. Speculator Fire/EMS, Wells Fire, Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputies, and Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance also responded.

City of Oneonta
Otsego County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 8, Forest Ranger Petit joined Smokey Bear at a fire safety event at the Oneonta Home Depot. Ranger Petit talked about a Ranger's job duties and the role of wildfires play in sustaining certain ecosystems.

Ranger and Smokey Bear stand at back of vehicle with informational boards and flyers during event
Smokey Bear and Ranger Petit at fire safety event

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 8 at 4:39 p.m., a hiker called 911 to report another hiker on Algonquin Peak near McIntyre Falls was suffering from headaches and dizziness. Forest Ranger Mecus responded and reached the 51-year-old from Quebec at 5:50 p.m. Ranger Mecus helped the subject down the trail where they were met by Ranger Praczkajlo in a UTV to transport them back to the trailhead. The subject declined further medical attention. Resources were clear at 6:43 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 9 at 11:20 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker suffering from a non-ambulatory leg injury approximately three-quarters of the way up the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East trail. Rangers Mecus, O'Connor, and Praczkajlo responded along with an ORDA medic. The medic reached the 49-year-old from Croghan at 12:03 p.m. Rangers and the medic packaged the subject in a litter and carried her out to the trailhead where Lake Placid Ambulance then transported the subject to Adirondack Medical Center. Resources were clear at 2 p.m.

Town of Willsboro
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 9 at 1:10 p.m., Ranger Black responded to Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain for two subjects unable to continue on the trail due to rocky and wet terrain. Ranger Black spoke to the subjects on the phone and told the pair to stay where they were. Ranger Black reached the hikers from Big Flats at 2:42 p.m. The hikers were well-prepared for a day hike and able to shelter in place during a rainstorm. Ranger Black assisted the hikers back to the trailhead by 3:15 p.m.

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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