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For Release: Tuesday, December 20, 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 North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 13 at 2:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker who may have broken their ankle below the Wright/Algonquin junction. Due to the location, Captain Burns requested aviation assistance. High winds and safety concerns kept the New York State Police (NYSP) helicopter grounded. Thirteen Rangers and additional DEC staff and volunteers responded. Rangers reached the 21-year-old from Saratoga Springs at 6:45 p.m., and administered first aid for the subject's ankle and hypothermia. One hour and a half later, Rangers used a backpack litter system to begin carrying the subject down the mountain. Conditions were treacherous with steep, icy slopes. At 9:37 p.m., Rangers reached Adirondak Loj where they were met by a Lake Placid Ambulance. The subject was taken to the hospital for further medical care. Resources were clear at 10:29 p.m.

Rangers wearing headlamps check on injured hiker during night rescue
Rangers rescue hiker with ankle injury

Rangers carrying out injured hiker during night rescue
Rangers rescue hiker with ankle injury

Rangers carry injured hiker out on a snowy trail during a night rescue
Rangers rescue hiker with ankle injury

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Dec. 14, at 12:30 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker with an unstable hip injury near the Wright/Algonquin junction. Seventeen Rangers responded in extremely hazardous conditions. The subject was in severe pain when Rangers reached him. Rangers began carrying out the 64-year-old from Ballston Lake at 5:37 p.m., and safely reached Adirondak Loj at 10:32 p.m., where they were met by a Lake Placid ambulance. The hiker was taken to the hospital for further medical care. Video of the carry out is available on the DEC website.

a small fire burns near rangers and injured hiker during rescue
Rangers start a fire to help warm subject during rescue coordination

Rangers pull an injured hiker through the woods and snow during a rescue at night
Rangers rescue hiker with hip injury

Town of Niles
Cayuga County
Wilderness Recovery:
On Dec. 16 at 9 a.m., New York State Police (NYSP) requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a missing 59-year-old woman from Elbridge. NYSP located the subject's car at the trailhead for Appletree Point. The woman was last seen on Dec. 12. NYSP used K9s, a drone, and their dive team during the search. Rangers were joined by Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Lieutenant Prentice and Investigator Harger, Cayuga County Search and Rescue, Onondaga County Search and Rescue, and Owego County Search and Rescue. Searching continued on Dec 17 and 18. Just before noon on Dec. 18, Rangers located the subject's remains in a gorge and used a steep angle rope system to recover the body. At 8 p.m., Rangers transferred the subject to a New Hope Fire Department UTV. State Police are investigating.

Ranger in a snowy gorge during recovery mission
Recovery Mission in Niles

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Recovery:
On Dec 17 at 2:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Stratton overheard radio traffic from Ulster County 911 requesting assistance with an unconscious subject on the Rochester Hollow Trail in Shandaken Wild Forest. The 69-year-old from Clinton Corners was hiking with two friends when he collapsed. One of the friends started CPR while the other hiker called for help. Ulster County EMS reached the subject and determined he was deceased. Rangers Allwine, Clute, and Stratton assisted the State Police with processing the scene and recovering the subject from the woods. Resources were clear at 6:30 p.m.

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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