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For Release: Tuesday, March 21, 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 Marbletown
Ulster County
Wilderness Recovery:
On March 14 at 11:30 p.m., New York State Police (NYSP) located the vehicle of a missing 45-year-old from Brooklyn in the Spring Farm parking lot of Mohonk Preserve. Over the next three days, 10 Forest Rangers joined NYSP, Mohonk Preserve Patrol Rangers, Sam's Point Search and Rescue, and Marbletown Rescue in the search. The subject left his home on March 11, and did not report to work the following Monday or Tuesday. His daughter was the last person to hear from him by phone before he began a solo hike in the Bonticou Crag area. The search effort was made more difficult by the steep, rocky, technical terrain, and the recent snowstorm. On March 17 at 10:15 a.m., searchers located the hiker's backpack and cell phone at the base of a 50-foot cliff. At 4:32 p.m., searchers found the subject deceased, approximately 400 feet away from the presumed fall site. The body was turned over to the Ulster County Medical Examiner's Office. Resources were clear at 7:15 p.m.

Rangers on steep, rocky terrain during wilderness search
Mohonk search

Rangers search between large rocks during wilderness search
Mohonk search

Town of Cheektowaga
Erie County
Rope Rescue Training:
On March 16 Forest Rangers Hettenbaugh and Sprague led seven Rangers in a refresher course on rope rescue basics. Rangers completed the training at the Erie County Fire Training Center after reviewing skills that include rappelling, individual harness construction, belaying, and anchoring.

Ranger at the top of a rope course during training
Ranger Richer at rope rescue training

View from the ground as a Ranger scales a large wall during ropes training
Ranger Sprague at rope rescue training

Hamlet of Delmar
Albany County
Public Outreach:
On March 16, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Pachan participated in Career Day at Bethlehem Middle School. Lt. Pachan spoke to students about the job of a Forest Ranger and the many hats Rangers wear from law enforcement to search and rescue and wildfire suppression. The students also learned the steps required to become a Forest Ranger including academics, physical fitness, and graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy. At the end of the presentation, students tried on some of the different hats. Lt. Pachan was joined by New York State Police Trooper Rich and Mr. McLaughlin, the Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Ranger and kids wearing safety gear pose for a picture
Lt. Pachan at Bethlehem Middle School career day

Ranger takes photo with kids in a classroom wearing Forest Ranger safety gear
Lt. Pachan at Bethlehem Middle School career day

a Ranger, a man in a suit, and a state trooper pose for a pictuer in the classroom
Lt Pachan, Mr. McLaughlin, and Trooper Rich at Bethlehem Middle School career day

Town of Inlet
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
On March 17 at 1:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a missing snowmobiler last seen the previous night in the Moose River Plains. Ten Forest Rangers started clearing trails from Cedar River Flow toward Inlet, and from Long Lake and Newcomb towards Indian Lake. After clearing these trails, Rangers moved on to the Seventh Lake Mountain Trail, working with Inlet and Webb Police. Approximately two and a half miles from the Seventh Lake boat launch, Ranger Miller found footprints and spots in the snow where the subject had sat down. At 7:45 p.m., Ranger Miller reached the 61-year-old from Plattekill. The subject was able to get to his feet and get on Ranger Miller's snowmobile. At 9:30 p.m., they reached EMS at the boat launch. Rangers recovered the subject's snowmobile. Resources were clear at 10:20 p.m.

Ranger and snowmobiler on a snowmobile at night
Ranger Miller with snowmobiler in Inlet

Rangers inspect snowmobile in the dark during search
Snowmobile found in Inlet

Town of Westport
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On March 18 at 8:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Lewis and Praczkajlo responded to a report of a lost snowmobiler near Nichols Pond. A 41-year-old from Saddlebrook was riding off trail, left his snowmobile, and tried hiking out using the trails. At 10:18 p.m., Rangers found the snowmobiler and returned him to his group.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Snowmobile Accident:
On March 19 at 11:10 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance after a snowmobile accident between Ranger Headquarters at Moose River Plains and Indian Lake. Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Caswell, Geyer, and Snye responded with Indian Lake Fire. Rangers reached the 53-year-old from Greenwich before noon and assessed their injuries. Rangers packaged the subject and transported him down the trail to Cedar River Road. An Indian Lake Ambulance then took the patient to the hospital. Resources were clear at 1:33 p.m.

Rangers and emergency personnel help snowmobiler after accident
Snowmobile accident in Indian Lake

area in the woods where snowmobile crashed, snow is blackened, wrecked snowmobile off to the side
Snowmobile accident in Indian Lake

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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