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For Release: Wednesday, January 18, 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 2022, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 359 search and rescue missions, extinguished 162 wildfires covering more than 1,300 acres, participated in 53 prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate nearly 900 acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in hundreds of tickets and arrests.

"With more people visiting State lands and enjoying New York's myriad, world-class outdoor recreational opportunities, DEC's Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Each day, these highly trained first responders are protecting irreplaceable natural resources and utilizing their expert knowledge of wildland fire suppression, wilderness first aid, land navigation, law enforcement, and technical rescue techniques to successfully execute critical missions, for DEC and our countless local, state, and national partners."

Town of Wheeler
Steuben County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Jan. 9, Forest Ranger Dormer conducted flat ice rescue training for seven Rangers in DEC's Region 8, including two new Academy graduates. Various techniques were utilized to simulate rescue scenarios including self-rescue, throw bag, reach pole, and rope rescue.

Rangers in orange safety gear during training on ice
Flat ice rescue training in Steuben County

Rangers pull another from the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training in Steuben County

Town of Queensbury
Warren County
Water Rescue:
On Jan. 10 at 10:15 a.m., Forest Rangers overheard radio traffic about an ice rescue on Glen Lake in Queensbury. Rangers Donegan, Kabrehl, and Quinn responded along with multiple fire departments, including Bay Ridge, Bolton, Lake George, North Queensbury, and Queensbury. Rangers helped get the 74-year-old from Queensbury out of the water to a waiting ambulance. The subject was taken to Glens Falls hospital. If he were not wearing a personal floatation device, the outcome may have been much different. Resources were clear at 11:28 a.m.

Rangers and emergency response on ice during rescue
Long Lake rescue

Village of Red Hook
Dutchess County
Vehicle Found:
On Jan. 9, Forest Rangers Russo and Sweeney found a vehicle stuck in Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area. The owner, suspected of illegally off-roading, has not been located. DEC arranged for the vehicle to be towed from the trail and the investigation is ongoing.

vehicle abandoned in the woods
Vehicle found in Tivoli Bays

tow truck pulls abandoned vehicle from woods
Vehicle being towed from Tivoli Bays

Village of Pomona
Rockland County
On Jan. 10 and 14, Forest Rangers Franke, Jahn, Pries, and Schweider conducted a Basic Wildland Fire Suppression Course. Rangers taught 20 volunteer firefighters from Hillcrest, Stoney Point, and Thiells fire departments. The Rangers covered multiple topics including communication and tools used during wildland fires and various methods of constructing a fire line.

Rangers stand at vehicle with training tools during fire suppression training
Fire suppression training in Rockland County

City of Kingston
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 11 at 4:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Franceschina and Horn responded to Bluestone Wild Forest for a report of a mountain biker with an upper leg injury. When Rangers arrived, Ruby Fire, Sawkill Volunteer Fire, and paramedics were already at the scene. The 68-year-old from Kingston had suffered a broken femur after falling from his bike approximately one mile from the Jockey Hill Wintergreen trailhead. Rescue crews transported the patient via fire department ATV back to the trailhead. He was then taken to Kingston Hospital. Resources were clear at 6:30 p.m.

Hamlet of Valhalla
Westchester County
On Jan. 12 Forest Rangers Cowart, O'Connell, Pries, and Russo conducted a Basic Wildland Fire Suppression Course. Rangers taught 27 professional firefighters from Eastchester, Fairview, Long Beach, Newburgh, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Pelham Manor, Rye, Rye Brook, Scarsdale, and White Plains fire departments.

Rangers instructing firefighters during training
DEC leads fire suppression training in Westchester County

Ranger speakes to Firefighters during training in classroom
DEC leads fire suppression training in Westchester County

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Jan.12, Forest Rangers conducted flat ice rescue training at DEC's Cranberry Lake Complex in St. Lawrence County. Participants, including nine recent Academy graduates, completed classroom and field training. Classroom instruction included pre-planning, response, and coordination of flat ice rescue incidents. The field portion of the training highlighted self-rescue techniques, along with reach, throw, and go responses. The DEC Region 6 airboat was deployed to provide operators and crew with additional training to deliver personnel to the scene and safely transition victims from the water to the deck of the airboat.

Rangers and air boat during training
Flat ice rescue training in St. Lawrence County

Rangers on ice and in water during training
Flat ice rescue training in St. Lawrence County

Rangers pull one another from water during ice safety training
Flat ice rescue training in St. Lawrence County

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Jan. 15 at 12:05 p.m., Ulster County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with the rescue of a hiker with a lower leg injury at Giant Ledge in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Rangers Franke, Quinones, Schweider, and Stratton reached the 70-year-old and splinted her lower leg. Rangers then packaged the hiker from Pennsylvania into a litter. Big Indian, Claryville, and Pine Hill fire departments assisted with the half-mile carry out. At approximately 4:30 p.m., the hiker was taken to the hospital by Shandaken EMS. During the incident, Rangers Franke and Schweider were rerouted to respond to another injured hiker from the same hiking party, but closer to the trailhead. The 71-year-old suffered a head injury from a fall and was airlifted to the hospital. Trail conditions were icy and Rangers needed microspikes during the rescues. Hikers are reminded to be prepared for winter conditions. Tips on how to pack and prepare for a winter hike are available on DEC's Facebook page (leaves DEC website).

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Public Safety:
Seven Forest Rangers are helping ensure the public's safety during the FISU World University Games, an 11-day competition and celebration of international university sports and culture. Thousands of student athletes from more than 50 countries are competing in 12 different sports.

Rangers stand next to slolem hill at FISU World University Games
Rangers Praczkajlo and O'Connor at World University Games in Lake Placid

Rangers and State Police on skis at the top of a snowy mountain
Rangers Evans and Lewis with the New York State Police at the World University Games in Lake Placid

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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