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For Release: Tuesday, October 18, 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 Wurtsboro
Sullivan County
Airboat Stuck:
On Oct. 12 at 8:36 a.m., DEC received a request for assistance to help remove a fire department airboat stuck in the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. The airboat was deployed as part of a multi-agency fire department response the evening before to assist in rescuing a stranded kayaker. Firefighters reached the kayaker and retrieved her from the water at 1 a.m. The swamp-like conditions and thickness of the vegetation caused the airboat to become stuck during the rescue and the firefighters had to swim ashore and leave the airboat behind. Rangers Cowart and Parlier went out in a canoe and were guided by Ranger Franceschina using a drone. The Rangers soon found and helped retrieve the airboat. If someone needs assistance on State land, call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS.

Aerial view of air boat stuck in thick vegetation
Airboat stuck in Bashakill Wildlife Management Area

two Rangers prepare canoed in the woods to rescue air boat
Rangers Cowart and Parlier ready to remove stuck airboat

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 12 at 12 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker with a potentially dislocated knee approximately one mile from the summit of Mount Marcy. Due to the subject's condition and location, New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was called in to assist. At 2 p.m., Ranger O'Connor, the hoist operator, inserted Ranger Curcio approximately one-half mile from the subject. Ranger Curcio hiked down to the 63-year-old from North Carolina, who had hit his knee on a rock and possibly tore a ligament. Ranger Curcio splinted the leg, walked the hiker to a safe location for a hoist, and harnessed him for Ranger O'Connor to hoist him into the helicopter. NYSP Aviation flew the patient to Adirondack Medical Center. Ranger Curcio hiked out to Marcy Dam with the subject's wife. Ranger Lewis transported the pair to Adirondak Loj and resources were clear at 7:11 p.m.

injured hiker gets lifted out as Forest Ranger supervises from below
Hoist rescue at Mount Marcy

Ranger assists as injured hiker is lifted out of the woods by helicopter
Hoist rescue at Mount Marcy

Town of Colonie
Albany County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 14, Forest Ranger Mitchell participated in an annual Emergency Services Open House hosted by the Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department. This event drew hundreds of people from surrounding communities to meet representatives of a variety of emergency services in the area. In addition to fire department personnel, representatives from DEC's Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York State Fire, State Police, LifeNet, Albany International Airport Fire Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Colonie Police, and Colonie EMS were all present. Ranger Mitchell provided information on how to become a Forest Ranger, a Ranger's duties and responsibilities, equipment and gear used by Forest Rangers, hiking and recreation safety, and wildfire prevention.

Rangers stands with rescue equipment around him during outreach event at firehouse
Ranger Mitchell at Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department

City of Albany
Albany County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 15, Forest Ranger Mitchell and Smokey Bear joined News 10 ABC for an interview about fire safety during the annual Smokey Bear Day at the Albany Pine Bush. The event was attended by hundreds of people looking to meet Smokey in person. Participants learned about the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, hiked the numerous trails, and became more informed about prescribed fire and its necessity in maintaining this unique habitat while getting a hands-on look at fire tools and equipment.

Ranger, Smokey Bear, and Albany Pine Bush staff pose outside for a photo
Ranger Mitchell, Smokey Bear, and Albany Pine Bush staff at Smokey Bear Day

Newscasters, Smokey Bear, and Ranger stand in the studio for a picture
Ranger Mitchell and Smokey Bear at WTEN

Town of Pinckney
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 15 at 12:49 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to Inman Gulf for a hiker who had fallen 50 feet down an embankment and suffered significant ankle injuries. Ranger Thomas arrived to the area and determined the subject was near the lean-to at the end of the trail. Due to the steepness of the trail and unsafe conditions of the stream bed, Rangers determined a rope rescue up the slide was the safest option. Seven Rangers worked to package the 22-year-old from Texas in a litter, tied him into the rope system, and raise him up the slide. At 6:06 p.m., the subject was released to Lewis County Search and Rescue, who transported him to the hospital. Copenhagen, Rodman, and Natural Bridge fire departments, DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, and Lewis County Sheriff's Office also assisted.

Rangers working on steep hill in the woods to rescue injured hiker
Inman Gulf rescue

emergency response teams in woods holding ropes during rescue
Inman Gulf rescue

Town of Corinth
Saratoga County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 15 at 3:35 p.m., Ranger Hess responded to a report of an injured hiker in Moreau State Park. Ranger Hess hiked in on foot and reached the 62-year-old from Northville. The subject had an unstable leg injury and needed carrying out. Ranger Hess helped carry the hiker to a Fire Department ATV, which transported her to a Corinth-based ambulance service for transport to Saratoga Hospital. Resources were clear at 6:22 p.m.

Town of Walton
Delaware County
Ranger Honored:
On Oct. 15, Ranger Ellis attended the Delaware County Firefighters Association dinner and was honored with the 'Support Person of the Year' award. Ranger Ellis has been active with the Delaware County technical rescue team for the last three years. Ranger Ellis assists the team with training in flat water ice rescue, rope rescue, land navigation, and general search and rescue.

Ranger and Firefighters take a group photo at event
Ranger Ellis named Support Person of the Year

Town of Glenville
Schenectady County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 16, Forest Ranger Mitchell participated in an annual open house hosted by Glenville Hill Fire Department. Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department and LifeNet also attended the event, where local residents had the opportunity to meet local emergency services personnel and explore fire department engines, a simulated smoke room, Forest Ranger fire trailer, and LifeNet helicopter. Forest Rangers frequently work with fire departments to respond to wildland fires and search and rescue incidents.

Helicopter flies over firehouse during open house event
Glenville Hill Fire Department open house

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 16 at 7:15 p.m., Forest Ranger Mecus was deployed to assist two stranded climbers on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch. Ranger Mecus spoke to the climbers on the phone, who reported that their rappel rope was stuck. Ranger Mecus determined the rope was still safely anchored and explained that one of the subjects could ascend using two prusiks, a friction hitch, or knot. Since the two 29-year-olds from Rochester didn't have prusiks, Ranger Mecus instructed the pair about how to create two loops out of other material so the hikers could climb up and clear the rope from the crack where it was stuck. A climber from Adirondack Volunteer Climbers Rescue Team responded and helped the pair find remaining rappel stations in the dark. The volunteer climber then assisted the subjects across the west branch of the Ausable River. Resources were clear by 9:15 p.m. Neither climber had a headlamp. Even if only planning a day trip, climbers and hikers should always prepare for an overnight trip in the event something goes wrong.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 16 at 8:15 p.m., Ranger Milano responded to a call for a hiker experiencing medical problems on the Owl's Head Mountain trail. An hour later, Ranger Milano reached the hiking party and determined the 23-year-old from Alabama has fallen and had a weakened pulse, blurred vision, and nausea, likely caused by low blood sugar. The hiker had not eaten anything since the early afternoon. Ranger Milano treated the low blood sugar and started warming the patient and their companion. A few minutes after they started walking, the patient's condition deteriorated and she lost consciousness. When the patient came to, she had no recollection of the fall, and started vomiting. Rangers Curcio and Milano built a fire and spent the next few hours warming and feeding the two hikers. Ranger Sabo arrived in an ATV and transported the subject to Long Lake EMS. Resources were clear at 1:20 a.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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