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For Release: Tuesday, February 14, 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 Athens
Greene County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Feb. 6, Forest Rangers Gullen, Jackson, and Mitchell led flat ice rescue training for seven Rangers in Green Lake. Rangers used preach, reach, and throw techniques to pull a "victim" out of the water and practiced using equipment like reach poles and throw bags. These skills and techniques help Rangers save people who fall into icy waters. Like many other aspects of search and rescue, flat ice rescue is a skill that needs to be practiced to remain sharp.

Ranger pulls another Ranger across ice with a rope during training
Flat ice rescue training in Green Lake

Ranger uses pole to pull another Ranger out of the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training in Green Lake

Town of Keene
Essex County
Public Outreach:
On Feb. 10, Forest Rangers DuChene and Foutch participated in a wildfire prevention presentation at Keene Central School. Charlie, the student of the week, requested a visit from Smokey Bear for his third grade class. Smokey, the Rangers, and DEC Forester Barber gave a presentation about the history of Smokey Bear and wildfire prevention. After the classroom visit, Forester Barber and Ranger DuChene showed the class how to safely build a campfire and enjoyed some s'mores.

Ranger, Smokey Bear, and kids pose for group photo at a school
Ranger DuChene and Smokey Bear at Keene Central School

Ranger shows kids how to practice campfire safety, as they all stand around and roast marshmallows
Ranger Foutch teaches campfire safety

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 11 at 3:44 p.m., Greene County 911 contacted Forest Ranger Fox in regards to an injured hiker on the west side of Sugarloaf Mountain. Rangers Fox and Peterson headed to the Mink Hollow Road access. Ranger Peterson established communication with the 65-year-old from Connecticut while Ranger Fox started hiking up to the subject. Ranger Fox assessed the hiker's ankle injury and determined additional Rangers were needed for the one-mile carry out in icy conditions. Ten Rangers responded and packaged the subject in hydrowrap and a rescue sled. Technical rope rigging was utilized to bring the subject down the difficult terrain. At 11:30 p.m., Hunter Ambulance transported the hiker to the hospital.

Rangers going into small cave in the woods during rescue
Sugarloaf Mountain rescue

Rangers rescue injured hiker in the woods at night
Sugarloaf Mountain rescue

Rangers carry injured hiker down the trail at night
Sugarloaf Mountain rescue

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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