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For Release: Tuesday, October 25, 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 Charlemont
Franklin County, MA
Whitewater Training:
On Oct. 15, Forest Rangers Lomnitzer, Martin, Perryman, and Scott attended the American Canoe Association (ACA) instructor development training at Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort in Massachusetts. All four Rangers successfully completed the clinic and became recertified as ACA whitewater instructors for the next four years.

Rangers standing next to kayaks in the woods during training
ACA instructor training

Ranger in a kayak on the water during training exercise
ACA instructor training

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 19 at 6:10 p.m., Forest Rangers Fox and Franceschina responded to a call for a hiker with leg issues on the Warner Creek trail. At 7 p.m., Ranger Franceschina arrived on scene and walked up the trail to find the 62-year-old from Pennsylvania in significant pain and unable to bend his leg. Ranger Franceschina gave the hiker ibuprofen and electrolytes, and helped him back to the trailhead. Ranger Fox assisted the hiker until Greene County EMS arrived. EMS determined the hiker overexerted himself and was dehydrated. Resources were clear at 8:10 p.m.

Town of Arietta
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search
: On Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Kerr, Nally, Scott, and Thompson responded to a call for a missing hunter at the Otter Lake campsite. The 68-year-old from Bellmore was last seen at 11 a.m. and was expected back by 1 p.m. The subject did not have any navigation tools, lights, or proper clothing for the weather. Rangers and a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy searched through the night with no success. The following morning, 11 Rangers and five Sheriff's Deputies searched trails, streams, and drainages. At 9 a.m., Ranger Scott located the subject approximately three miles southwest of Spruce Lake. Search crews brought the subject to his awaiting family and friends. He was evaluated by EMS and released and resources were clear at 10:15 a.m.

Rangers and search team group photo near the woods during missing hunter search
Rangers and Deputies find missing hunter in Arietta

Town of Schodack
Rensselaer County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 20, Forest Ranger Jackson spoke to fourth graders at Castleton Elementary School. The students recently learned about geography, so Ranger Jackson explained how geography plays a role in a Ranger's day-to-day duties. Ranger Jackson showed the children how to read a map and demonstrated how different geographical features affect search and rescue missions and wildland fire responses. Some of the students told their teacher they want to be Forest Rangers when they grow up.

Ranger in kid's classroom pointing at a map
Ranger Jackson at Castleton Elementary School

kids sitting at desks in a classroom listening to a Ranger
Ranger Jackson at Castleton Elementary School

Town of Owego
Tioga County
Airboat Training:
On Oct. 20, five Forest Rangers conducted airboat training on the Susquehanna River. This allowed Rangers to maintain proficiency in operating the airboat in low light and dark conditions.

dark, nighttime photo of a Ranger Airboat on the water
Ranger airboat training

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 21 at 3:52 p.m., Forest Ranger Evans was notified by a hiker about an injured hiker walking slowly down from Algonquin Peak. The hiker was not wearing any traction devices and fell approximately 15 feet on the ice. Ranger Evans hiked up to the 63-year-old from West Falls, performed first aid, and walked the subject back to his campsite. A reminder that in fall and winter, micro spikes or other traction devices are strongly recommended when hiking above 3,000 feet.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 22 at 2:20 p.m., Forest Ranger Dawson and Ranger Lieutenant Pachan were working at the Laurel House parking lot when a call came in for a subject who slipped and fell near the middle area of Kaaterskill Falls. Ranger Dawson checked the viewing platform and was unable to locate the subject. Ranger Dawson continued down to the lower falls, at which time Greene County 911 reported the subject was near the top of the falls. Lt. Pachan located the 63-year-old from Brooklyn near the wood fence at the top of the falls. The subject was calm, but weak and was slowly walking back to the trailhead with the aid of her friends. The subject stated that she slipped and fell from a standing location and was semi-conscious and weak for about 20 minutes after the fall. A short time later, a Greene County Paramedic arrived along with Ranger Dawson and another paramedic, who walked in from the lower falls. After a brief rest, the subject decided to seek further medical attention on her own. Resources were clear by 4 p.m.

Town of Gardiner
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 22 at 2:22 p.m., New York State Police requested Forest Ranger assistance at Minnewaska State Park to hoist a subject who fell approximately 50 feet into a crevice near Gertrude's Nose. Staff from New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and local responders raised the 54-year-old with a high angle rope rescue. The subject from New York City suffered a significant head injury and was in and out of consciousness. Rescuers carried him half a mile to Gertrude's Nose where they were met by Ranger Lieutenant Slade and Ranger Jahn. Rangers loaded the subject into an aviation litter. At 4 p.m., with New York State Police pilots Bowe and Leeder flying, Ranger Stratton hoisted the patient into the helicopter. The patient was then transferred to a Life Flight helicopter and taken to the hospital. Resources were clear by 6 p.m.

Ranger dangles from hovering helicopter
Lt. Slade hoisted into helicopter after the patient was hoisted

Injured hiker being lifted in to a hovering helicopter
Minnewaska State Park hoist rescue

Deep, rocky crevice from which a hiker was rescued
Crevice at Minnewaska State Park

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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