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For Release: Tuesday, May 16, 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 Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fires:
On May 9, Forest Rangers and Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff conducted a prescribed burn of 14 acres. On May 10, approximately 12.5 acres of land were burned at the Albany Pine Bush. 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 at DEC's Facebook page (leaves DEC website).

Ranger fuels prescribed fire in the woods
Prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush

Town of Prattsburgh
Steuben County
Public Outreach:
On May 10, Forest Ranger Miller participated in Environmental Education Day at Franklin Academy in the Prattsburgh Central School District. Ranger Miller gave a brief overview of the job duties and responsibilities of a Forest Ranger to approximately 90 students. In addition to talking about search and rescues and wildland fire suppression, Ranger Miller showed the students some of the tools Rangers use on a daily basis. The Ranger also relayed the importance of education and how various school subjects relate to a Forest Ranger career.

Kids with hands raised ask Ranger questions about environmental education
Ranger Miller at environmental education day at Franklin Academy

City of Geneva
Seneca County
Public Outreach:
On May 10, Forest Rangers Raffaldi-Smith and Roberts participated in Outdoor Education Field Day hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. The event welcomed approximately 300 sixth graders from area schools who rotated through multiple interactive stations. Rangers explained what their job entails and talked about outdoor recreation safety, preparedness, and Leave No TraceTM principles. The Rangers also discussed habitat requirements needed to support healthy wildlife populations, utilizing an interactive game called 'Oh My Deer' to illustrate the concepts.

Ranger speaking to kids during outreach event
Ranger Roberts at outdoor education field day

Town of Perrysburg
Cattaraugus County
On May 11, 11 Forest Rangers participated in annual swift water rescue training. Rangers reviewed cinch techniques, throw bag practice, and "go" techniques for actively swimming in rapids to rescue a victim. Rangers were also taught how to read the hydraulics of rapids and where the safer zones are located.

Rangers both in the water and out during swiftwater training
Swift water training in Perrysburg

Town of Middleburg
Schoharie County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 11 at 1 p.m., Schoharie County Dispatch reached out to Forest Ranger France about a hiker who felt ill and weak while walking down from the Vroman's Nose overlook. Rangers Bowler and France hiked in to assist the 73-year-old from Broome. Less than an hour later, Rangers met up with the hiker and provided food and water before helping him back to the trailhead. A family member picked up the subject. Resources were clear at 2:15 p.m.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 13 at 8:55 a.m., a hiker called Essex County 911 about an angler with a possible broken leg off the Flume Trail System. Forest Rangers DiCintio, O'Connor, and Praczkajlo responded along with Wilmington Fire and Wilmington EMS. The 39-year-old from Canada said he had dragged himself from the water to the riverbank and waited for two hours hoping someone would find him. The angler indicated his foot became trapped in the rapids and he had injured himself trying to get out from under a rock. When Rangers and Wilmington Fire reached the subject, they packaged him into a litter and carried him to the ambulance. Resources were clear at 9:30 a.m.

Town of Fulton
Schoharie County
Wildland Fire:
On May 13 at 1:30 p.m., Schoharie County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a brushfire in Fulton. Five Rangers responded to the nine-acre fire. Fire crews had the fire contained by 5:10 p.m. The fire was started by residential debris burning. Ranger France issued a citation to the landowner for violating the State's burn ban.

Ranger walks through the woods near wildland fire
Wildland fire in Fulton

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 13 at 4:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Allwine and Rusher responded to a report of an injured hiker on Plateau Mountain. Ranger Allwine reached the Notch Lake trailhead along with Twin Clove Rescue and spoke to the patient's hiking companions. They indicated two members of the group had stayed with the 64-year-old from Albany. When Ranger Rusher reached the hiker at 7:30 p.m., the subject was complaining of nausea, lethargy, sleepiness, and cramping. Ranger Rusher provided the hiker with electrolytes and fluids. After eating and resting, the hiker began walking out with the help of rescue crews. The group reached the trailhead by 10:30 p.m., where EMS crews determined no further medical care was needed. Centerville Cedar Grove Fire, Kingston Fire, Lanesville Fire, Palenville Fire, Hunter Police, Hunter Ambulance, and Greene County EMS all assisted in the rescue efforts.

Ranger talks with injured hiker during rescue
Ranger Rusher with injured hiker on Plateau Mountain

Town of Woodstock
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 14 at 1 p.m., a group of hikers from Long Island called for help after losing the trail on their way up Overlook Mountain. New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff's, and Woodstock Police began searching. Forest Ranger Franceschina was able to get the group's coordinates from Ray Brook Dispatch. At 2:13 p.m., Ranger Franceschina reached the subjects, who ranged in age from 13 to 46, in dense mountain laurel approximately a quarter of a mile off the trail. The hikers were in good condition. Ranger Franceschina helped the group back to the trailhead by 3 p.m.

Town of Horicon
Warren County
Wildland Fire:
On May 14 at 1:25 p.m., Forest Rangers Morehouse and Savarie responded to a wildland fire on Palisades Road in Horicon. The fire began as a structure fire but spread into the woods. Rangers were joined by three fire departments who got the fire under control by 5:30 p.m.

Rangers douse charred house with water during wildland fire
Wildland fire in Horicon

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Search:
On May 15 at 10:55 a.m., 10 Forest Rangers joined the search for a missing three-year-old in the Otter Lake area on the border of Herkimer and Oneida counties. Rangers led the incident command. New York State Police used a drone and a K9 to support the effort. A passerby called 911 after spotting the child at a camp across Lake View Road. One of the volunteer searchers, who was also a family friend, heard the call and yelled the boy's name. At 1:18 p.m., the volunteer reached the boy and brought him to his parents. Herkimer County Sheriff's, Inlet Police, Old Forge Fire, Otter Lake Fire, Webb Police, Woodgate Fire, the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and DEC's Division of Law Enforcement were also involved in the search.

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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