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For Release: Tuesday, November 8, 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 Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Search Turns to House Fire and Rescue:
On Oct 31 at 9:40 p.m., New York State Police (NYSP) requested Forest Ranger assistance in locating a subject originally reported as an overdue hunter. The family of the 25-year-old from Hudson had reported the individual missing and indicated he might be despondent and suicidal. Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Miller, Nally, and Scott responded to the Blue Mountain trailhead where NYSP found the subject's car. Rangers searched the Blue Mountain and Tirrell Pond areas through the night. At 2:50 p.m. the following day, a passerby alerted Rangers to a house fire approximately one-half mile away from their command post. Rangers and Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputies pushed through the door and found the subject of the search unconscious on the floor. Lt. Kerr, Ranger Quinn, and Deputy O'Brien pulled the subject to safety. Rangers Geesler, Scott, and Temple provided medical treatment until EMS arrived and transported him to the hospital. Rangers were also able to move the homeowner's vehicle away from the burning house. The homeowner was not home at the time of the fire and the house is a total loss. The subject faces multiple charges including arson and burglary. An interview with Ranger Quinn about the incident can be downloaded on DEC's website.

Rescue Crew outside burning cabin
Subject pulled from burning house

Village of Saranac Lake
Essex County
On Nov. 2, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Burns was promoted to Captain of Region 5 North, covering Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and northern Hamilton counties. The occasion was marked by a pinning ceremony with DEC Commissioner Seggos. Captain Burns began working for DEC as an Assistant Forest Ranger in the High Peaks Wilderness area in 1988. From 1989 to 1999, Burns worked in DEC Operations as a backcountry caretaker at the Lake Colden Outpost. After graduating from the academy in 1999, Ranger Burns was assigned to Long Island. He later worked in Columbia County and in 2002, returned to the High Peaks Region. In 2020, Ranger Burns was promoted to High Peaks Zone Lieutenant.

Commissioner (L) pins a pin on Captain Burns (R) outside near the woods
Commissioner Seggos pins Captain Burns

Town of St. Armand
Essex County
Public Outreach:
On Nov. 2, Forest Ranger Lieutenant M. LaPierre participated in a presentation with New York State Police Trooper Thornhill and K9 Stanley at Bloomingdale Elementary School. Lieutenant M. LaPierre discussed hiking and camping safety with the fifth graders, before hiding in the woods to help demonstrate K9 Stanley's abilities. K9 Stanley used Lt. M. Lapierre's scent to track her into the woods. This is another example of how Forest Rangers and New York State Police work well together.

Ranger in classroom speaking to kids sitting at their desks
Lt. M. LaPierre at Bloomingdale Elementary School

Trooper stands with K9 in a classroom
Trooper Thornhill and K9 Stanley

Ranger, Trooper and K9 Pose for picture with group of students outside school
Lt. M. LaPierre, Trooper Thornhill, and K9 Stanley at Bloomingdale Elementary School

Town of Johnsburg
Warren County
Gondola Training:
On Nov. 3, seven Forest Rangers participated in gondola training on Gore Mountain. Each year, Rangers and Gore Mountain staff train for gondola rescues in preparation for the ski season. Once they climb into the gondola, Rangers take each stranded skier and belay them to the ground. After the person is safe, skis are sent down so the subjects can ski to the bottom of the mountain.

Rangers on outside of skiing gondola, mountain tops in the background
Gondola training

Ranger dangles from gondola machinery during training
Gondola training

Town of Saranac
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 3 at 10:53 p.m., Forest Ranger Russell responded with New York State Police (NYSP) in the search for an overdue hunter. The 57-year-old from Dannemora was known to hunt on State land in the town of Saranac. At 12:12 a.m., NYSP located the subject approximately one mile into the woods. The subject had a dislocated hip. Ranger Russell helped transport the subject to Saranac EMS. Resources were clear at 1:46 a.m.

Towns of Avoca, Canadice, Colchester, East Fishkill, Lisle, Lysander, Persia, and Petersburgh
Broome, Cattaraugus, Delaware, Dutchess, Onondaga, Ontario, Rensselaer, and Steuben Counties
Wildland Fires:
From Nov. 4 - 7, Forest Rangers responded to an estimated eight wildland fires in eight different counties. The fires were caused by campfires, debris burning, and power lines. All of the fires, which burned approximately 75 acres of land, are out, contained, or in patrol status. The dry weather and windy conditions lead to fires that spread more quickly.

Evening photo of wildfire and Ranger
Petersburgh fire

fire burning along the woods
Jansen fire

Ranger extinguishes fire at charred remains of tree in the woods
Lysander fire

smoke coming from forest floor
Persia fire

Town of Wawarsing
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 5 at 12:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Franke, Jahn, and Kreft responded to a report of a hiker with an ankle injury approximately one mile into the red trail in Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. Rangers and Cragsmoor Fire took a fire department UTV as far up as terrain allowed. The 57-year-old from Stony Brook could not put any weight on her ankle. Rangers splinted the injury, carried the hiker to the UTV, and helped her out of the woods. Ellenville Volunteer Ambulance examined the hiker at the trailhead and she declined further medical treatment. Resources were clear at 3:30 p.m.

Rangers load injured hiker onto UTV in the woods during rescue
Shawangunk Ridge rescue

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Burn:
On Nov. 5, Forest Rangers Dawson and Mitchell assisted Albany Pine Bush staff with a prescribed burn to improve wildlife habitat in the Pine Bush Preserve. The fire burned approximately 12.5 acres of grass and mixed understory brush on four parcels near Whitestone Road. After a successful test fire, the burn was conducted from 1 to 5 p.m.

Rangers stand near burning area during prescribed fire
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Ground Fire:
On Nov. 5 at 2 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a ground fire on the shore of Lake Colby in Saranac Lake Wild Forest. Rangers put out the fire, which was caused by burning at an illegal campsite. The investigation is ongoing.

Rangers investigate burned area in forest
Saranac Lake Wild Forest fire

Town of Lake George
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 5 at 5:52 p.m., Forest Ranger Donegan responded to a 911 call from two subjects hiking down Prospect Mountain. The hikers were fatigued and concerned about hiking down in the dark, because they didn't have any light sources. At 7:15 p.m., Ranger Donegan located the subjects and assisted them to the trailhead. Hikers are reminded that after turning the clocks back last weekend, it gets darker earlier. Hikers should always have flashlights or headlamps, even if they do not plan to hike at night.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for two subjects hiking the Tongue Mountain Range. While hiking down the first peak, the hikers from Clifton Park couldn't continue due to darkness. The pair did not have lights and their cellphone batteries were dying. Rangers Donegan and Quinn responded to Montcalm Point via boat and then searched for the subjects on foot. At 8:38 p.m., Rangers found the subjects, brought the hikers to the boat, and transported them back to the Clay Meadows trailhead parking area. Resources were clear at 10:15 p.m. Hikers are reminded that after turning the clocks back last weekend, it gets darker earlier. Hikers should always have flashlights or headlamps, even if they do not plan to hike at night.

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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