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For Release: Tuesday, May 9, 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 Islip
Suffolk County
Public Outreach
: On April 19 and 26, Forest Ranger Scott taught a wilderness survival course at Islip Middle School. Ranger Scott showed the students how to use a compass and map to navigate, how to splint a broken limb, and how to carry someone in a litter. Once the students were comfortable with the skills, they were put to the test in a race. Two teams had to navigate to their "patient," splint their arm, and carry them back. Both teams were successful in their rescue and learned valuable lessons in teamwork, resourcefulness, and communication.

Group of kids and Ranger that participated in the Wilderness Survival Course
Wilderness survival course at Islip Middle School

Kids carry adult in stretcher-type tool during wilderness survival course
Wilderness survival course at Islip Middle School

Town of Fenton
Broome County
On April 29, Forest Rangers led a multi-agency search and rescue training at Chenango Valley State Park. Rangers reviewed search and rescue tactics with members of Amigo Search and Rescue Dogs, Broome County Community Emergency Response Team, Civil Air Patrol, and New York State Park Police.

Rangers and emergency response prepare for search training
Search and rescue training in Fenton

Town of Groveland
Livingston County
Law Enforcement:
On April 30 while on patrol in Livingston County, Ranger Cordell followed up on a tip that a lock was missing from one of the gates at Sonyea State Forest. Ranger Cordell proceeded to secure the gate and noticed five Jeep Wranglers traveling together. Sonyea State Forest has a history of illegal, offroad motor vehicle use on the property so Ranger Cordell continued investigating. The Ranger watched from a distance and the Jeeps eventually made their way to a trail that is off limits to motor vehicles. Ranger Cordell blocked their exit point and issued five tickets for illegal motor vehicle use on State Forest lands.

tire tracks in the mud where Jeeps illegally drove through
Illegal motor vehicle use at Sonyea State Forest

Jeep illegally in the woods
Illegal motor vehicle use at Sonyea State Forest

Town of Yorktown
Westchester County
On May 1 and May 6, Forest Rangers Pries, Russo and Sweeney conducted a basic wildland fire suppression course for Yorktown Fire. Thirty-five volunteer firefighters from Hillcrest, Millwood, Thiells, and Yorktown participated in the training at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown Heights. Volunteer firefighters are essential in fighting wildfires and training with the Rangers fosters better teamwork in the event of an actual fire.

Rangers and firefighters in the woods
Basic wildland suppression course in Yorktown Heights

Town of Lake George
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 2 at 6:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Carabetta and Donegan responded to a call for an injured hiker on the trail to Prospect Mountain. Rangers reached the pair of hikers by 7:30 p.m. and stabilized the ankle of the injured 23-year-old from Latham. Rangers assisted the hikers back to the trailhead and then to their vehicle. The injured subject chose to seek further medical attention on her own. Resources were clear at 8:10 p.m.

Town of Fishkill
Dutchess County
On May 3, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Ashida and Rangers Pries and Russo taught the basic wildland search course to 17 staff members of Fresh Air Fund's Sharpe Reservation. Sharpe Reservation hosts children from New York City for summer camps on more than 2,000 acres of forested land.

Kids walk trhough woods during search training
Basic wildland search course in Fishkill

Town of Lake George
Warren County
On May 3-5, Forest Ranger Donegan led technical rope rescue operations training at Prospect Mountain. Twenty-eight Rangers took part in the training that included moving "patients" in steep technical terrain.

Rangers tied off to tree during rope training
Technical rope rescue operations training at Prospect Mountain

Four rangers pause for photo during rope training
Rangers Carrabetta, Hamm, and Nahor and Lieutenant Kerr at Prospect Mountain training

Rangers on side of rock face during rope training
Technical rope rescue operations training at Prospect Mountain

Town of Potsdam
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Recovery:
On May 5 at 4:19 a.m., Forest Rangers joined Environmental Conservation Police Officers in the search for a 22-year-old college student who reportedly jumped from a bridge into Norwood Lake and was swept away by the currents. Potsdam Fire set up a staging area. The Rangers and ECOs joined New York State Police (NYSP) dive teams, Potsdam Police, St. Lawrence County Sheriff's, and five fire departments in the search. The search didn't yield any results until the following afternoon when a member of the NYSP dive team found the subject's body in approximately nine feet of water a short distance below the dam. Resources were clear at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Rangers in Kayak on far side of lake during recovery
Potsdam recovery

Rangers and emergency response crews stand at edge of lake during recovery
Potsdam recovery

Hamlet of Paul Smiths
Franklin County
On May 5 and 6, Forest Rangers Adams, Mecus, Ordway, Rooney, and Russell led the basic wildland search course for 18 members of Search and Rescue Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) at the Paul Smiths Visitors Center. SARNAK assists Rangers when needed on difficult search and rescue missions in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Rescue team wearing orange shirts takes a group photo at training
SARNAK team after basic wildland search training

Town of Collins
Erie County
Public Outreach:
On May 6, Forest Ranger Sprague assisted with a learn-to-fish clinic at the Gowanda Fire Department. Ranger Sprague taught approximately 60 children about water safety, proper clothing, types of personal floatation devices, and different rescue techniques.

Ranger and young anglers pose for picture during fishing event
Learn-to-fish clinic in Collins

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 6 at 5:56 p.m., Forest Rangers Foutch and Mecus responded to a beacon activation at the base of Grace Peak. The subject indicated in the text that he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was moving slowly down the trail. Rangers and members of Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue hiked in and reached the subject at 8:38 p.m. and put his arm in a sling. When the 43-year-old from Hornell was too weak to continue, rescuers carried him the final mile-and-a-half out to a Keene Valley Ambulance. Resources were clear at 5 a.m.

Rangers help injured hiker on dark trail during nighttime rescue
Rescue in North Hudson

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fires:
On May 6 and May 7, Forest Rangers and Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff conducted two different prescribed burns. The first burned 9.1 acres of land; the second was seven acres. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. More information and video about prescribed fires is available on DEC's Facebook page (leaves DEC website).

Ranger vehicle near burning area during prescribed fire
Prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush on May 7

Rangers at burned area of land during prescribed fire.
Prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush on May 7

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 7 at 3:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker on Tabletop Trail suffering from severe migraines and nausea. Assistant Forest Ranger Evans hiked in to the subject to assess her condition. The 26-year old from Syracuse was hiking with a partner to the Marcy Dam outpost, but then her conditioned worsened. Rangers Evans and Mecus reached the hikers and transported them via ATV to their vehicle where the subject declined further medical treatment.

Town of Hunter
Green County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 8 at approximately 3 p.m., Forest Ranger Dawson was approached by hikers at Kaaterskill Falls who reported an injured hiker near the viewing platform. Ranger Dawson found the 69-year-old from Flushing and provided medical care for her ankle injury. The patient used crutches to move up the trail, but became exhausted and couldn't continue. Ranger Dawson borrowed a wheelie walker from another group and wheeled the patient 200 feet to his Ranger truck. Ranger Dawson drove the subject to the Laurel House trailhead where she declined any further care.

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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