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For Release: Tuesday, June 6, 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."

Hamlet of Poestenkill
Rensselaer County
Wildland Fire:
Among the numerous wildfires Forest Rangers have responded to in recent weeks, on May 30 at 3:40 p.m., Forest Ranger Jackson responded to a wildfire in Poestenkill. Ranger Jackson found multiple log piles on fire producing extreme heat and 40 foot flames. No structures were threatened. By 6 p.m., the efforts of seven fire departments had contained the 1.6-acre fire. The fire was the result of a bonfire not fully extinguished nor in a proper fire pit. Ranger Jackson issued one ticket for failing to clear flammable material around a fire.

fire burns on charred area of land
Wildfire in Poestenkill

construction equipment sits in smoky area where wildfire burned through
Wildfire in Poestenkill

Forest Rangers spray logging area with water during wildfire
Wildfire in Poestenkill

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 31 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger Dawson responded to Kaaterskill Falls for a report of a hiker with an arm injury. The 58-year-old from Brazil and her daughter hiked down the stone staircase and over the rocks to wade in the water. While returning to the trail, the subject fell on the streambed rocks. Ranger Dawson and Windham Ambulance found the pair at the lower falls, splinted the subject's arm, and assisted them out to the trailhead. Hunter ambulance and Greene County medics transported the patient to the hospital. Resources were clear at 7 p.m.

Rangers apply first aid to injured hiker on the trail
Rescue at Kaaterskill Falls

Town of Hadley
Saratoga County
Wildland Fire:
On June 1 at 4:14, p.m., Forest Ranger Nahor discovered a wildfire on North Shore Road in Hadley. By 10:30 p.m., four Rangers had the fire 50 percent contained. The following night at 8:10 p.m., Rangers declared the 3.5-acre fire fully contained. Due to the dry weather, the fire continues to burn, producing significant smoke and three Rangers continue putting out hot spots.

bright orange flames take over an area of forest during wildfire
Wildfire in Hadley

Town of Chazy
Clinton County
Wildland Fire:
On June 1 at 1:57 p.m., Forest Rangers Booth and Bronson responded to a fire on Sheldon Lane in Chazy. The 1.3-acre fire started with debris burning. Rangers issued two tickets to the 68-year-old landowner for burning debris without clearing three feet around the base of the fire and setting forestland on fire. The fire was declared out at 2:45 p.m. on June 3.

smoky area of charred land where wildfire burned through
Wildfire in Chazy

Ranger uses suppression tool to fight wildfire
Wildfire in Chazy

Town of Blenheim
Schoharie County
Wilderness Search:
On June 1 at 3:30 p.m., Forest Ranger France overheard radio traffic about a group of lost hikers in Mine Kill State Park. The hikers from Otego took a different trail down from Mine Kill Falls and became lost. Ranger France responded with Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) Bohling and Burgess, Schoharie County Sheriff's Deputies, and New York State Police (NYSP). Ranger France and the ECOs used airhorns on their vehicles to help locate the hikers. The hikers called to advise they could hear the airhorns. ECO Bohling located the subjects and Ranger France provided water and helped the hikers back to the trail. Schoharie County medics checked out the group and determined no further medical attention was needed. Resources were clear at 5:39 p.m.

Ranger and lost hikers trek through tall grass
Search in Blenheim

Town of Hancock
Delaware County
Wildland Fire:
On June 1 at 4:33 p.m., Delaware County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildfire near State Route 268 in Hancock. Ranger Ellis arrived approximately an hour later and joined multiple fire departments in assessing the six-acre fire. Rangers Bink, France, and Seeley also responded. By 8:05 p.m., fire crews had the fire contained; due to some hotspots, the fire remains in patrol status.

smoke from wildfire rises above the trees
Wildfire in Hancock

smoky view in forest
Wildfire in Hancock

City of Plattsburgh
Clinton County
On June 1 and 2, Forest Rangers Booth and Bronson conducted training for the SUNY Plattsburgh University Police Department on the initial response to reports of lost or missing persons. Rangers also went over the basics of swift water rescue operations.

Rangers and emergency response personell take group photo during training
Training in Plattsburgh

person throws rescue tool to another in the water during training
Training in Plattsburgh

Hamlet of Garrison
Putnam County
Wildland Fire:
On June 2 at 8:30 p.m., Forest Rangers were called to a wildfire near the Garrison train station. The fire was burning between a trail and the Hudson River and spread to Hudson Highlands State Park. Cold Spring, Garrison, and North Highlands fire departments had the fire under control by 10 p.m. Overnight, the fire grew from one acre to 1.5 acres. At 4:11 p.m., the fire departments, Rangers, and staff from New York State Parks and State Park Police had contained the fire once more.

a tree blazes with fire in wildland fire
Wildland fire in Garrison

Town of Johnsburg
Warren County
Wildland Fire:
On June 2 at 9:26 p.m., Warren County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildfire on Waddell Road in Johnsburg. Five Rangers responded to the 11-acre fire at DEC's Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and adjacent private land. Due to the steep terrain, Rangers employed an indirect attack and burnout operations to mitigate threats to the containment line. On June 5 at 4:48 p.m., the fire was fully contained. The cause of the fire is believed to be a lightning strike.

Ranger monitors edge of wildfire in the woods
Wildfire in Johnsburg

Rangers move vegetation to avoid wildfire spread
Wildfire in Johnsburg

Town of Hyde Park
Dutchess County
On June 3, Forest Rangers Horn, Pries, and Russo finished instructing a Basic Wildland Search course for the Roosevelt Fire Department. Twenty-six volunteer firefighters participated in the training that started on May 22 and wrapped up with field exercises in June. Rangers often work with volunteers during search and rescue missions and training helps ensure everyone is using the same methods in the case of an actual search.

Rangers and Firefighters take group photo near woods during training
Basic Wildland Search Course in Hyde Park

Rangers train firefighters in the woods
Basic Wildland Search Course in Hyde Park

Hamlet of West Hurley
Ulster County
Public Outreach:
On June 4, Forest Ranger Sweeney participated in the West Hurley Fire Department's "Touch A Truck" event. The interactive family day provides children the opportunity to see, climb in, and explore different types of emergency vehicles. Ranger Sweeney displayed tools in the Forest Ranger truck and explained how each is used in search and rescue missions or during wildfires.

Ranger kneels to take photo with kids at the back of a Ranger Vehicle
Ranger Sweeney at "Touch A Truck" event

Town of Wayland
Steuben County
Public Outreach:
On June 5, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens and Forest Ranger Carpenter attended Wayland Cohocton Central School's, "Safety Before Summer" event. The event was organized by the Parent Teacher Student Organization and featured EMS, volunteer fire departments, Steuben County Sheriff's Office, the Red Cross, and DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers. In front of a Type 6 fire engine, Ranger Carpenter discussed the importance of fire safety, the Forest Ranger's role, and compared Ranger equipment to the equipment used by traditional firefighters.

Ranger talks to families about safety
Ranger Carpenter at Safety Before Summer event

Ranger stands next to truck and tools and talks to families about summer safety
Ranger Carpenter at Safety Before Summer event

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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