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For Release: Tuesday, February 28, 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."

Because of the warm and dry winter season, DEC is urging New Yorkers to take extra caution when burning. While the statewide burn ban doesn't take effect until March 16, the majority of the state's land is dry and brown. Without any new or additional snowfall, the dry, dormant vegetation is primed to burn and facilitate the spread of a wildfire. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York webpage.

Village of Tupper Lake
Franklin County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Feb. 18, Forest Rangers Adams and Milano led flat ice rescue training for the Long Lake Fire Department. Training first responders is a great way to ensure people who fall through the ice have the best chance of survival. Rangers provided instruction in techniques for self-rescue, reach, and throw and go.

Rangers and firefighters practice flat ice rescues on the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training in Tupper Lake

Town of Olive
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Horn and Martin responded to a call for a lost hiker in Sundown Wild Forest. The 75-year-old from West Shokan lost the trail and her cell phone battery died, leaving her with no other source of light. Rangers reached the subject 15 minutes later and helped her back to her vehicle at the trailhead. Winter hikers are encouraged to come prepared for the outdoors. To learn more visit DEC's Winter Hiking Safety webpage.

City of Albany
Albany County
Illegal Motor Vehicle Use:
On Feb. 21 Ray Brook Dispatch was notified about a motor vehicle abandoned in the woods approximately one-half mile from the Albany Pine Bush Madison Avenue Pinelands trailhead. Forest Ranger Mitchell and the Albany Police Department responded, and upon investigation, determined the vehicle drove through the split rail fence at the trailhead, drove down the hiking trail, and became stuck. Ranger Mitchell issued a ticket to the driver, a 42-year-old from Troy, for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on Albany Pine Bush Preserve lands. Albany Police issued several vehicle and traffic tickets. The vehicle was not operational and towed out of the woods at the owner's expense.

small red car in the woods, stopped at a downed tree
Car found at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Elizabethtown
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 22 at 4:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a disoriented hiker in the vicinity of Bald Peak in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area. The pair of hikers in their 20s from Rochester and Scottsville were concerned they would not make it out of the woods before dark and reported suffering from cramping and panic attacks. At 9:10 p.m., Rangers reached the subjects, warmed them, and started assisting the pair back to the trailhead. Rangers and the hikers reached the Bald Peak trailhead at 2:44 a.m.

Town of Woodstock
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Franceschina, Horn, Martin, and Sweeney responded to a call for a camper in need of assistance in the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest near Echo Lake. The 18-year-old from Brooklyn ran out of food and water and was struggling walking to the trailhead. Rangers reached the subject at 2:35 p.m., provided food and water, and helped him back to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 4 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 25 at 5:03 p.m., Forest Ranger Mecus responded to a call for a hiker with an unstable lower leg injury on Wright Peak. At 7:53 p.m., Ranger Mecus reached the 60-year-old from Canada, stabilized her leg, and began packaging her in a toboggan. Five additional Rangers assisted with the carry out. Using the toboggan and a rope system, Rangers brought the subject to the Adirondak Loj by 10:25 p.m. The hiking party transported her for further medical attention. A short video clip of the Wright Peak rescue is available for download at DEC's website.

Rangers carry injured hiker out on a toboggan during night rescue
Wright Peak rescue

Town of Wilton
Saratoga County
Search and Rescue Training:
From Feb. 23-25, Forest Rangers Carabetta, Greagan, Hess, and Nahor conducted a search and rescue course at the Gansevort Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters, community residents, and Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue participated in the three-day training. Rangers often work with outside and volunteer rescue crews in the wilderness, and training together is invaluable.

Volunteers and emergency personnel meet in parking lot during search and rescue training
Search and rescue training in Wilton

Rangers speaks to volunteers in the snowy woods about search and rescue training
Search and rescue training in Wilton

Town of Franklin
Franklin County
Snowmobile Accident Training:
On Feb. 25, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre and Rangers DiCintio, Ordway, and Rooney conducted training at Buck Pond Campground. The training involved a mock snowmobile accident. Rangers instructed members of the Bloomingdale, Bombay, Duane, and Paul Smiths Gabriels fire departments, as well as Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake Rescue.

Rangers, firefighters, snowmobiles and other equipment in the woods during accident training
Snowmobile accident training

Snowmobile in the snowy woods during accident training
Snowmobile accident training

Ranger and Firefighters in the snow during accident training
Snowmobile accident training

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Snowmobiler Rescued:
On Feb. 26 at 1:40 p.m., Forest Rangers Bills, Lee, McCartney, and Waligory responded to a snowmobile accident on Stillwater Reservoir. A 70-year old from New Jersey had hit an uneven patch of ice or a stump and was ejected from their snowmobile. The subject suffered facial abrasions, neck and back pain, and couldn't feel his legs. Rangers assisted Big Moose and Old Forge fire departments with packaging the subject into a toboggan and stabilizing his head until they reached the boat launch. Old Forge EMS transported the subject to the hospital at 4 p.m.

emergency response crews transport injured snowmobiler
Rangers rescue snowmobiler in Stillwater

wrecked snowmobile next to cabin
Rangers rescue snowmobiler in Stillwater

Rangers and emergency response on the snow during rescue
Rangers rescue snowmobiler in Stillwater

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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