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For Release: Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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 Long Lake
Hamilton County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Dec. 22, Forest Ranger Milano conducted flat ice rescue training for 15 Rangers on Long Lake. Rangers spent hours practicing and demonstrating rescue skills to better respond and manage incidents when subjects fall through the ice.

Rangers hold rescue tools during ice rescue training
Flat ice rescue training

Town of Stratford
Fulton County
Snowmobile Safety Education:
On Dec.28, Forest Rangers Thompson and Hamm assisted the Stratford Snowdrifters Snowmobile Club and Hamilton County Snowmobile Patrol Officer Arena with the New York State Snowmobile Safety Course. Rangers instructed 28 participants at the Oppenheim Trailblazers Snowmobile Club. The course allows youth ages 14 to 17 to operate a snowmobile on lands where snowmobiling is allowed, and youth ages 10 to 13 to ride where permitted while accompanied by an adult. The course includes the basics of snowmobile operation and navigation, New York State laws and regulations, and trail preparedness. Other New York State snowmobile safety courses can be found at the NYS Parks website (leaves DEC website).

City of Watertown
Jefferson County
Public Outreach:
On Dec. 29, Forest Ranger Dixon participated in a Smokey Bear event at a day care facility in the Dulles State Office Building. Ranger Dixon read the story of Smokey Bear and answered questions from the children about fire safety.

Smokey Bear and a Ranger talk to a group of kids about fire safety
Ranger Dixon with Smokey Bear

Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties
Public Outreach:
On Jan. 1, Forest Rangers participated in First Day Hikes across the state. Rangers Jansen and Shea joined DEC Region 6 staff in the Southville State Forest in St. Lawrence County. Ranger Shea reviewed hiking safety tips with young explorers. Ranger Evans hiked the Carpenter Road trail in Lewis County with staff and participants who joined together to connect with nature on the first day of the new year.

Rangers, hikers, and kids in the woods during a First Day Hike
First Day Hike at Southville State Forest with Rangers Jansen and Shea

Ranger and hiker in snowy woods during First Day Hikes
First Day Hike at Carpenter Road trail with Ranger Evans

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 2 at 2:15 p.m., Ray Brook dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker who collapsed in the snow on Johns Brook Trail. The original call indicated the 22-year-old from Ellenburg Depot was three-quarters of a mile in on the trail. At 4:30 p.m., Rangers found the subject and the caller 2.5 miles in on the trail in hazardous conditions. Rangers used backpack carriers and reached the Garden trailhead at 9:25 p.m., where they were met by a Keene Valley ambulance. The hiker was taken to Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical care. Volunteers from the Keene Valley Fire Department's Backcountry Rescue Team assisted with the carryout. Video of the carryout (Johns Brook Trail Rescue) is available at DEC's website.

Rangers rescuing hiking at night in the woods
Rangers rescue hiker on Johns Brook trail

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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