Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Tuesday, November 29, 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 Deerpark
Orange County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 25 at 10:15 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call from Orange County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a search for a missing subject. Rangers Cowart, Franceschina, Jahn, and Sweeney responded. At 8 a.m. the following morning, the subject's father located the missing man in good condition approximately four miles from his home. The subject spent the night wandering around, lost, unable to find his way back home. New York State Police, Orange County Sheriff's Deputies, Deerpark Police, Walkill Police, Cuddebackville Fire, and Huguenot Fire assisted in the search. Resources were clear at 8:40 a.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Illegal Tree Cutting:
On Nov. 26 at 1:06 p.m., Ranger McCartney heard someone approaching him on the trail while he was checking the register at Moss Lake. Ranger McCartney observed a subject dragging a freshly cut spruce tree and carrying a saw toward a pickup truck in the parking lot. Once the subject loaded the tree into his truck, Ranger McCartney interviewed the 58-year-old from Old Forge and educated him about regulations prohibiting the cutting of trees by the public on State land, regardless of its potential use in holiday celebrations. The subject was issued an appearance ticket.

Large pine tree in the back of a pickup truck
Illegal tree cutting in Webb

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 26 at 4:30 p.m., Ranger Lewis responded to a call for a hiker at Rainbow Falls who was having difficulty walking due to a neurological condition. Ranger Lewis coordinated with Adirondack Mountain Reserve staff to borrow an ATV to drive on the seasonal road to locate the 56-year-old from West Babylon. The road was impassable with a truck because of winter and mud conditions. Ranger Lewis helped the hiker and her hiking partner back to their vehicle where she advised she would seek medical treatment on her own. Resources were clear at 6 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about a lost 19-year-old hiker in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The caller did not have a specific location but noted they were with a hiking partner. Forest Rangers Lewis, O'Connor, and Praczkajlo responded. With help from New York State Police, Rangers checked trail registers and parking lots to determine the potential location of the individuals. At 9:30 p.m., the hiking partner called from the Adirondak Loj trailhead to report that the pair had become separated and last communicated at 5 p.m. when the other hiker descended Iroquois Peak. At 12:45 a.m., the 19-year-old from Schenectady called his father. Rangers directed him to call 911 so responders could get a better location. The young man was near the summit of Algonquin Peak in waist-deep snow, becoming lethargic, and dozing off. Ranger Praczkajlo kept him awake on the phone, helping prevent further injury. At 4:22 a.m., Rangers reached the subject. He was hypothermic and lost feeling in his lower legs and feet. Rangers warmed him, provided food and drink, and assisted the hiker to the trailhead where they met a Lake Placid Ambulance at 6:35 a.m. The hiker was taken to Adirondack Medical Center. Resources were clear at 7 a.m.

Rangers walk down a dark, snowy path using flashlights to see while rescuing hiker
Rangers rescue hiker on Algonquin Peak

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Recovery:
On Nov. 27 at 9:30 a.m., Forest Rangers were notified about a hunter having cardiac issues walking down the Pilot Knob trail to the Buck Mountain trailhead. When Rangers and Pilot Knob Fire arrived, the hunter was unconscious. Other hunters, hikers, and fire department personnel were performing CPR on the hunter. Rangers and EMS personnel continued these efforts. At 10:18 a.m., the hunter was declared deceased by the lead Fort Ann EMS Paramedic. DEC Investigator Goodrich also responded.

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.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Jeff Wernick
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions