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For Release: Tuesday, December 13, 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 Caroga
Fulton County
Illegal Excavator Use:
On Dec. 7, Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Manns alerted Forest Rangers of an unauthorized vehicle in Shaker Mountain Wild Forest at Pine Lake. Upon investigation, Rangers Geyer and Nally found excavator tracks going around a closed gate at the Pine Lake Boat Launch. Rangers located the operator, a 50-year-old from St. Johnsville, and issued a ticket for operating a motor vehicle on state land.

Large tire tracks in the dirt near a lake
Excavator tracks at Pine Lake

Town of Bainbridge
Chenango County
Airboat Training:
On Dec. 8, seven Forest Rangers conducted airboat training on the Susquehanna River. The training was for new operators to learn these skills, as well as for current operators to maintain proficiency.

Air boat traveling across water during training
Airboat training on the Susquehanna River

Rangers pose for group photo next to air boat during training
Airboat training on the Susquehanna River

Town of Forestport
Oneida County
Wilderness Recovery:
On Dec. 9 at 3:19 p.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Tabor notified Ray Brook Dispatch that Oneida County requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a missing subject. The 55-year-old's ATV was found rolled over in a stream, but the subject was not located. New York State Police led the search efforts with an underwater recovery team and drone operators. Ranger Lieutenant Hoag and Rangers Murphy and Piersma responded with ECOs Noyes and Tabor and the Oneida County Sheriff's Department. After a full day of searching, rescue crews continued the following day. On Dec. 10 at 10:30 p.m., a State Police drone operator located the victim deceased approximately one-half mile downstream from where the ATV was found.

Town of Hope
Hamilton County
Motor Vehicle Accident Rescue:
On Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.m., Forest Rangers Geyer and Nally responded to a motor vehicle accident on Hope Falls Road. The vehicle slid down an embankment with four people inside it. Rangers helped New York State Police free a five-year-old stuck in the car, stabilizing his head until a neck brace was applied and the patient was placed on a backboard. All four subjects were transferred to EMS by 10:30 a.m.

emergency response vehicles on a road during rescue
Rescue on Hope Falls Road

City of Watertown
Jefferson County
Public Outreach:
On Dec. 10 Forest Rangers Dixon and Thomes joined the annual "Shop with a Cop" event with other law enforcement officials who live and work in Jefferson County. More than 60 children participated in the event. Each child was given a $200 gift card and shopped with someone in uniform to help engage the participants in a positive experience with law enforcement in the community.

Ranger and child in check-out line at a store
Ranger Dixon at "Shop with a Cop" in Watertown

Two Rangers take photo with a child, Santa, and Mrs. Claus
Rangers Dixon and Thomes at "Shop with a Cop" in Watertown

Bear Mountain State Park
Rockland County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 10 at 12 p.m., Central Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with an injured hiker at Bear Mountain State Park. Rangers Cowart, O'Connell, Russo, and Sweeney hiked into the location. Park Rangers and Park Police were with the 42-year-old from Staten Island, who had an ankle injury. Rangers assisted with the carry-out of the subject using a wheeled litter. The subject was then taken by UTV to an ambulance at Seven Lakes Road and resources were clear at 3:20 p.m.

Rangers and hikers make their way down a trail during rescue
Rescue at Bear Mountain State Park

Rangers and hikers in the woods during rescue
Rescue at Bear Mountain State Park

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 10 at 5:15 p.m., Forest Rangers Bink, Bowler, and Fox responded to Hurricane Ledge after a report of two lost hikers. The subjects from the Bronx started hiking up from the Steenburgh Road trailhead at 1 p.m., but lost the trail. Rangers located the subjects by 8 p.m. The hikers were not injured, but cold. Rangers provided food, warm liquids, and dry layers of clothing and helped the pair back to the trailhead. The 29- and 30-year-old subjects declined medical assistance. Resources were clear at 9:30 p.m.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Flat Ice Training:
On Dec. 12 Forest Rangers Miller, Nally, and Scott conducted flat ice rescue training for Rangers Caswell, Hamm, Geyer, and Syne. The training focused on how to respond and manage an incident when a person falls through the ice. Rangers spent several hours demonstrating and practicing rescue skills including throw bags, reach poles, and "go" rescue techniques to extract someone from the ice.

Rangers crawling on ice during training
Flat ice rescue training

Rangers pull another Ranger out of the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training

Rangers use ropes to pull another Ranger out of the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training

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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