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For Release: Tuesday, February 7, 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 Rensselaerville
Albany County
Park Police Academy Training:
On Jan. 30, Forest Rangers Gullen and Mitchell taught a search and rescue class at the 17th New York State Park Police Academy. Rangers spoke to 38 recruits about what to expect during search and rescue missions in State Parks when Rangers are involved. The Forest Rangers also taught the recruits about basic search principles and tactics, including linear and area search methods.

Rangers speaking to Park Police Recruits during training in classroom
Rangers Gullen and Mitchell at Park Police Academy

Town of New Windsor
Orange County
Hoist Training:
On Feb. 2, 13 Forest Rangers participated in hoist training with New York State Police (NYSP) pilots Celestine and Leeder at Stewart State Forest. Working in conjunction with NYSP, Rangers and pilots train together for potential hoist rescue missions. Rangers serve as hoist operators inside the helicopter while lowering Rangers to the ground. During the training, Rangers tested out different colors to assess visibility of the Rangers on the ground so they can better help the pilots locate them during a rescue.

Helicopter hovers above Rangers in a field during training
Hoist training in New Windsor

Helicopter prepares to take off from field during training
Hoist training in New Windsor

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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