Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Tuesday, March 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."

City of Hudson
Columbia County
Public Outreach:
On Feb. 21, Forest Ranger Jackson attended an event at the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) Museum in Hudson. More than 100 people attended the event with 76 scouts earning their fire safety merit badges. Ranger Jackson taught scouts about the role of human behavior in fire danger, the cost of outdoor and wildland fires and how to prevent them. Ranger Jackson also explained how to set up a campsite safe from fire and demonstrated how to set up and put out a cooking fire and camp stove.

Town of Summit
Schoharie County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On Feb. 27, Forest Rangers from Region 4 participated in flat ice rescue training on Looking Glass Pond. The training included field exercises where Rangers demonstrated their self-rescue, reach, and throw-and-go skills.

Rangers stand side-by-side on ice during training
Flat ice rescue training on Looking Glass Pond

Two Rangers standing on ice, while another is in the water during training
Flat ice rescue training on Looking Glass Pond

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 27 at 3:15 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a lost hiker in the vicinity of Mount Marcy, the 51-year-old from New Jersey lost the trail due to snow cover. Coordinates placed the hiker near the Hopkins Junction. Rangers Evans and O'Connor made phone contact with the hiker and guided him back towards the Van Hoevenberg trail. Ranger Evans reached the hiker near Marcy Dam. The subject was approaching hypothermic conditions. Ranger Evans brought the subject back to his vehicle and no further medical care was required. Resources were clear at 8 p.m.

Town of Pittstown
Rensselaer County
Illegal Target Shooting Followed by Accident:
On Feb. 27 at 6 p.m., Forest Ranger Jackson investigated illegal target shooting in Pittstown State Forest. Ranger Jackson determined a party was illegally shooting at targets on trees. The Ranger issued tickets for damaging the trees and left the scene. Approximately 10 minutes after the group left the forest, their truck slid on the ice and snow into a steep drainage. No one in the truck was injured. Three hours later, the subjects called Ranger Jackson for help. He called a tow truck, but because of the conditions and the location, the tow truck was unable to pull the truck out. The Ranger waited with the party until they arranged safe transport and DEC resources were clear by 10 p.m. The truck was removed later in the week.

Flashlight shines on a truck stuck in a ditch
Truck stuck in steep drainage near Pittstown State Forest

Village of Brockport
Monroe County
Public Outreach:
On March 1, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens, Ranger Raffaldi-Smith, and DEC Environmental Educator Sarah Conley attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport's Career Fair. The Division of Forest Protection teamed up with the Bureau of Environmental Education to provide information on summer internship opportunities, enrollment in Civil Service examinations, educational requirements, and the day-to-day job duties of Forest Rangers. This event reaches hundreds of students and allows the Division of Forest Protection to meet students that might not otherwise have exposure to Forest Rangers in the field.

Rangers stand at informational table at a career fair
Sarah Conley, Ranger Raffaldi-Smith and Lt. Wickens at SUNY Brockport Career Fair

Hamlet of North Creek
Warren County
Mountain Rescue Training:
On March 2 and 3, Forest Ranger Donegan led 20 Rangers in mountain rescue training on Gore Mountain. The training included accessing and evaluating an injured patient in technical winter terrain, and using a rope rescue system to get a patient to safety.

Rangers use rope rescue system on steep, snowy hill during rescue training
Mountain rescue training at Gore

Mountain rescue training at Gore

Town of Lowville
Lewis County
Wilderness Recovery:
On March 2 at 9 a.m., Lowville Police requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a missing subject last seen three days earlier. Six Rangers joined three Sheriff's deputies, and two members of the Lowville Police Department in the search. At 2:45 p.m., tree crews working in the area reported seeing a body in Mill Creek. Rangers responded and found the deceased 67-year-old from Lowville. Rangers removed the man's body using a litter and rope system.

Allegany, Chautauqua, and Niagara Counties
Search and Rescue Training:
On March 2, Rangers Richer and Strezcywilk led a compass and land navigation course at Mount Pleasant State Forest for members of the Chautauqua County search team. On March 4, Forest Rangers Cordell, Kennedy, Richer, and Thaine taught a basic wildland search skills course to 55 members of the Niagara County Sheriff's department, Niagara Frontier Search and Rescue (NFSAR), and several local fire departments. The course gives students standardized training and skills necessary to assist in search incidents. It was conducted at Wolcottsville Fire Department and the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area.

On March 5, Ranger Thaine conducted an area grid search training field exercise for volunteers from the A.E. Crandall Hook and Ladder Company and the Allegany County search team. The training took place at Phillips Creek State Forest.

Ranger stands on road outside and gives instructions during search course
Ranger Kennedy briefing at a basic wildland search skills course

Ranger stands at head of classroom with projector, giving instructions to other emergency personell during search course
Ranger Thaine instructing a basic wildland search skills course

Town of Schroon
Essex County
Wilderness Recovery:
On March 4 at 2:15 a.m., Essex County requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a missing person suspected of falling through the ice while snowmobiling on Schroon Lake earlier in the evening. Rangers responded in an airboat. The snow and wind slowed the response. At 8:47 a.m., the 71-year-old from Schenectady was found deceased. Rangers transported the body to shore and turned the deceased over to Schroon Lake Rescue. The case was turned over to New York State Police investigators.

snowy landscape with DEC airboat in the distance
Schroon Lake search

Rangers stand near rescue equipment during snowy search
Schroon Lake search

City of Rochester
Monroe County
Public Outreach:
On March 4, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Environmental Educator Betsy Ukeritis teamed up for the 2023 Festival of Inclusion at Nazareth College. This is the second year of the event with a goal of ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD.) The event helps those with IDD develop friendships, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve communication skills, and feel included within their communities. DEC paired with Rochester Accessible Adventures to educate visitors on the mammals of New York State, upcoming DEC events, hiking safety and preparedness, the career of a Forest Ranger, DEC summer camps, and accessible, outdoor opportunities for people with IDD.

Ranger stands at informational table
Ranger Lt. Wickens at Festival of Inclusion

Ranger at informational table talks to child and woman during festival
Ranger Lt. Wickens at Festival of Inclusion

Village of Saranac Lake
Essex and Franklin Counties
Saranac Lake 3P:
On March 5, six off-duty Forest Rangers participated in the Saranac Lake 3P (Pedal, Paddle, and Pole.) Lieutenant Burns skied down Mt. Pisgah, Ranger O'Connor rode a fat bike from Mt. Pisgah to Dewey Mountain, Ranger Praczkajlo went cross-country skiing at Dewey Mountain, Ranger Adams biked to Beaver Park, Ranger Lewis paddled from Beaver Park to Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club, and Ranger Duchene ran uphill from the game club to the Mt. Pisgah finish line. The team finished in third place out of 13 teams with a time of one hour and 45 minutes.

Rangers pose for picture with bikes and skis in the snow
(From left) Rangers Lewis, Praczkajlo, O'Connor, Duchene, Lt. Burns, and Ranger Adams at Saranac 3P

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.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Jeff Wernick
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions