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For Release: Tuesday, March 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 Grafton
Rensselaer County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
On March 6, Forest Ranger Jackson led 13 members of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation through flat ice rescue training at Grafton Lakes State Park. Participants learned about different types of ice and the factors that affect ice health, initial response to a flat ice emergency, and "preach, reach, and throw" rescue techniques. This course helps participants develop agency policies and procedures relating to public safety on the ice, as well as staff response to an emergency and how best to assist first responders.

Rangers and emergency personnel on the ice during training
Flat ice rescue training in Grafton

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Skier Rescue:
On March 7 at 11:05 a.m., Forest Ranger Evans heard about a cross country skier who hit a tree near the Penny Glades in Lake Placid. Fifteen minutes later, Ranger Evans reached the 67-year-old from Lake Placid, helped him to his home, and performed a medical evaluation. After noticing a large contusion on the subject's hip and a laceration and swelling on his face, Ranger Evans called for an ambulance. Lake Placid Ambulance took the subject to the hospital at 11:47 a.m.

Town of Southeast
Putnam County
Wildland Fire:
On March 7 at 3:18 p.m., Putnam County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a brushfire that started with leaf burning and spread in the town of Southeast. Rangers Pries and Russo responded, ensured the two-acre fire was out, and issued tickets to the property owner for failure to remove flammable material within three feet of a fire and leaving a fire unattended.

DEC reminds New Yorkers that the annual residential brush burning prohibition to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires starts March 16. For more information, go to DEC's website.

Charred wood and grass after brushfire
Brushfire in Southeast

Hamlet of Ray Brook
Essex County
Dispatcher Training:
On March 8, Forest Ranger Captain Laczko gave a seminar on New York State and western state wildland fires to DEC Dispatchers at Ray Brook Dispatch. In an effort to ensure Dispatchers send the appropriate assets and resources to a wildland fire, Captain Laczko discussed fire terminology, the three main factors for fire weather, fire tools, coordinating agencies, and fire reporting. Other topics included managing pitch pine in areas dependent on controlled burns such as the Long Island Pine Barrens and the Albany Pine Bush.

DEC is currently hiring radio dispatchers (leaves DEC website). To become part of the Ray Brook Dispatch team, apply at the State Jobs website (leaves DEC website)

two people stand at dispatch area in Ray Brook office
Ray Brook Dispatch

Village of Fairport
Monroe County
Public Outreach:
On March 8, Forest Ranger Raffaldi and Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Muchow gave a presentation on criminal justice to students at the Eastern Monroe Career Center (EMCC). EMCC exposes students to rigorous academics and experiential activities, exploring the history of law enforcement and developing an understanding of civil and criminal law. Students review court cases and outcomes as they relate to law enforcement at the local, state, and national level. Ranger Raffaldi and ECO Muchow shared information about their respective careers in environmental law enforcement, the similarities and differences between the Divisions of Forest Protection and Law Enforcement, day-to-day job activities, special training opportunities, work schedules, competitive pay schedules, how to sign up with Civil Service, and education requirements.

ECO and Forest Ranger stand near targets at career fair
ECO Muchow and Ranger Raffaldi at Eastern Monroe Career Center

City of Canandaigua
Ontario County
Public Outreach:
On March 9, Forest Ranger Miller, a Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) alumni, attended a career fair at his alma mater. The FLCC Conservation and Horticulture Career Day and Internship Expo provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about several dozen environmental occupations so students can interact, request information about open positions, and ask questions about different careers. Forest Ranger Miller and Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Baker teamed up to promote DEC careers in environmental law enforcement. The effort helps students understand the employment process and how to sign up for Civil Service exams and ensures they are completing the correct undergraduate coursework.

ECO and Ranger stand at informational table during career fair
ECO Baker and Ranger Miller at FLCC

Hamlet of Stanley
Ontario County
Public Outreach:
On March 10, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens attended the inaugural Full Draw Outdoor Show in Stanley. The event brings outdoor products, services, and information to one venue for outdoor adventurers to enjoy. Guided hunts, hunting clubs, vendors, raffles, and expert presentations are provided during the two-day event. The Forest Rangers were invited by the Environmental Conservation Police Lieutenant Lochner, ECO Jankowski, and ECO Baker. Rangers and ECOs shared a booth to share information about environmental rules and regulations and recruitment, as a way to engage directly with community residents.

Two ECOs and a Ranger stand at informational table under taxidermied animal heads at Outdoor Show
ECO Lieutenant Lochner, ECO Jankowski, and Ranger Lieutenant Wickens at Full Draw Outdoors Show

Town of Ellenburg
Franklin County
Vehicle Accident:
On March 13 at 9:20 a.m., Forest Rangers Odell and Russell responded to a call for a vehicle that had gone over a guardrail on Route 374. Rangers evaluated the 62-year-old from Plattsburgh, who was suffering from neck and back pain. Ellenburg Center Ambulance took the subject to the hospital. Resources were clear at 10 a.m.

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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