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For Release: Tuesday, May 2, 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 Lake Luzerne
Warren County
Public Outreach:
On April 25, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre and Ranger Temple spoke at the 2023 Wilderness Medicine Conference at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne. Rangers provided doctors and other medical professionals with a real-world perspective on the complex nature of medicine in a wilderness environment.

Rangers and staff take a group photo in front of flags at the medical center
Lt. Lapierre and Ranger Temple at Wilderness Medical Conference

City of Albany and Town of Big Flats
Albany and Chemung Counties
Prescribed Fires:
On April 27, Forest Rangers and other DEC personnel assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in completing a 9.5-acre prescribed burn at the USDA Plant Materials Center in Big Flats. The Plant Materials Center develops plant-based conservation technologies specifically for the northeastern U.S.

On April 28, Forest Rangers and Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff conducted a 17-acre prescribed burn near the intersection of New Karner and Old State roads. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. More information and video about prescribed fires (leaves DEC website) is available on DEC's Facebook page.

Ranger ignites dry grassy area during prescribed fire
Ranger Raffaldi supporting USDA prescribed fire

Ranger monitors prescribed fire in smoky woods
Ranger Mitchell at prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Avon
Livingston County
Public Outreach:
On April 27, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Ranger Miller participated in DEC's Take Your Child to Work Day at DEC's Region 8 office in Avon. Forest Rangers and other DEC staff conducted demonstrations and answered questions throughout the day. There were K-9 and two-way radio demonstrations for participants, as well as a tree planting. The event allows children to learn about potential, future careers at DEC.

Rangers watch as small child uses radio in vehicle
Ranger Miller and Lt. Wickens at Take Your Child to Work Day

child uses radio in Ranger vehicle as Ranger sits in passenger seat
Ranger Miller at Take Your Child to Work Day

Town of Livonia
Livingston County
Public Outreach:
On April 27, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Ranger Raffaldi helped Brownie Troop 51084 earn hiking badges at Chip Holt Nature Center in Vitale Park. In addition to hiking safety, Rangers explained how to appropriately build, contain, and extinguish a campfire. The Rangers also showed the brownies how to make the best campfire s'mores.

Ranger and girl scouts roast marshmallows over fire
Lt. Wickens makes s'mores with Brownie Troop 51084

Rangers and girl scouts pose for a group photo eating s'mores
Ranger Raffaldi and Lt. Wickens with Brownie Troop 51084

Town of Wilton
Saratoga County
Check Presentation:
On April 27, Division of Forest Protection Director Solan, Ranger Hess, and retired Ranger Goetke attended a check presentation for the Larry Gordon Outdoor Education Center at the Town of Wilton's Camp Saratoga. The Stewart's Shops/Dake Family donation of $100,000 will help turn Camp Saratoga into a destination outdoor education campus honoring community leader Larry Gordon. Gordon was one of three Commissioners appointed to represent New York State on the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission. He was also a search and rescue volunteer and served as President and Team Commander of Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue. Gordon spent more than 35 years as a DEC Forest Fire Warden and was instrumental in helping transition ownership of the former Camp Saratoga Scout Camp to the town of Wilton and DEC. The camp's buildings and infrastructure will be converted into the Larry Gordon Education Center. The surrounding land is managed as part of the DEC Saratoga Sandplains Wildlife Management Area.

Rangers and two other people in suits take a group photo
Director Solan, Sid Gordon (Larry's Uncle), Wilton Supervisor Lant, and Ranger Hess at the Larry Gordon Outdoor Education Center

Hamlet of Guilderland Center
Albany County
On April 27 and 28, Forest Ranger Captain Burns led a two-day Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) training event. Nine Ranger pilots received training in DEC policies, as well as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations. The Rangers were issued new equipment and conducted flights to qualify as night flight operators. Rangers use UAS during search and rescue events, wildland fires, and other emergencies.

Rangers fly drone over wide open field
Rangers participate in UAS training

Town of Gates
Monroe County
Public Outreach:
On April 29, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Ranger Miller participated in the Boy Scouts of America Camporee Fire Badge Day at First Responder Park in Gates. The multi-day event provides attendees with an opportunity to earn a fire badge by learning from Rangers, Barnard Fire, Chili Fire, Gates Fire, and Spencerport Fire Departments. Rangers hosted a station that focused on wildland fires, how wildland fire suppression is different from structure firefighting, seasonal wildfire risk, and the tools used during wildland fires and prescribed burns.

Rangers and participants take large group photo with emergency vehicles
Camporee Fire Badge Day

Ranger talks to scouts at Fire Badge Day event
Ranger Miller at Camporee Fire Badge Day

Town of Northampton
Fulton County
On April 29, Forest Rangers Geyer and Snye conducted a Basic Wildland Search course for the Search and Rescue 5-1 Team based out of Johnstown. Rangers instructed nine new volunteers on topics including basic search organization, communications, search techniques, and safety. Volunteers also participated in a field exercise in Silver Lakes Wilderness where they conducted a grid search for a "missing" hunter. All participants will receive DEC certification.

Rangers and volunteers take group photo during training
Wildland search course in Fulton County

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Unprepared Hikers:
On April 29, while on patrol, Forest Ranger Martin encountered a group of four unprepared hikers from Pennsylvania. The hikers arrived at different times at the Lake Colden Outpost between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., and only one of the group had a headlamp. All of the hikers were cold and wet. One hiker was hypothermic. Ranger Martin warmed the hikers and provided nourishment. After Ranger Martin provided the help the group needed, they spent the night and continued out the following morning.

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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