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For Release: Tuesday, December 6, 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."

Towns of Franklin and Santa Clara
Franklin County
Illegal ATV Use:
On Dec. 1, Ranger Praczkajlo followed ATV tracks in the town of Franklin and determined the operators were riding the ATVs illegally on Forest Preserve land. When the Ranger located the operators, he issued two tickets to each, including for driving unregistered ATVs. On Dec. 2, Ranger Praczkajlo followed other ATV tracks and found an operator from Bloomingdale driving an unregistered ATV illegally on a public easement. He issued two tickets. An ATV must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (leaves DEC website) if it is operated anywhere in New York State, including the owner's property.

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Awards Ceremony:
On Dec. 2, New York celebrated 38 new graduates from the 23rd Basic School for New York State Forest Rangers (leaves DEC website). For the last six months, the recruits endured strenuous training at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry campus in Wanakena and the Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb. The 38 graduates will join 121 current Rangers to create the largest Ranger force in DEC history. Ranger Corey earned both the Physical Fitness and Academic Excellence awards. Ranger Greagan earned the Physical Fitness Award. Ranger Snye earned the Stewardship and Marksmanship awards.

Group photo of the Forest Ranger Graduates
23rd Basic School for New York State Forest Rangers graduates
in Lake Placid
Rangers shake hands and pass off award during ceremony
Ranger Greagan (right) receives the Physical Fitness award from
Division of Forest Protection Director John Solan
Ranger in suit and Ranger in uniform shake hands and pass off award during ceremony
Ranger Snye (right) receives Stewardship award from
Ranger Kabrehl
Two men playing bagpipes lead Forest Ranger graduates down aisle during ceremony
Bagpipes and honor guard at Forest Ranger graduation

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Awards Ceremony:
On Dec. 2, DEC Forest Rangers held the 2022 Forest Ranger Awards Ceremony in Lake Placid. Ranger Snyder earned the Meritorious Service Award for her work in the development and maintenance of the Division of Forest Protection's SharePoint site and leading the Division's field mapping capabilities. Joan Ducharme and Don Mellor earned the Colonel William F. Fox Citizen's Award. Joan has been an administrative assistant in Region 5 for the last 35 years. Don has been volunteering for technical rescue missions since the mid-1980s. For their outstanding work over many years, Retired Ranger Candee and Captain Rogers earned the Director's Commendation. For acts of valor, courage, bravery, and integrity, Ranger Lieutenant Hoag, and Rangers Booth, Donegan, Franke, Perryman, and Quinn earned the Raymond Murray Award. Ranger Murray died in a plane crash in 1970 while flying aerial detection flights during wildland fire suppression efforts.

Forest Rangers and staff stand with awards after ceremony
Back row from left: Deputy Commissioner for Public Protection
Steve Smith, Director John Solan, Ranger Perryman, Ranger Quinn,
Ranger Booth, Captain Rogers, and Ranger Franke.

Front row from left: Lieutenant Hoag, Colonel Cornell, Joan Ducharme,
Commissioner Seggos, Don Mellor, Ranger Snyder, and Ranger Donegan.

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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