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For Release: Wednesday, June 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 Milan
Dutchess County
On June 12 and 17, Forest Rangers Russo and Sweeney led the Basic Wildland Fire Suppression course for 12 members of the East Clinton, Hyde Park, and Milan fire departments. The classroom portion was held at the Milan Fire Department and field exercises were conducted at the Lafayetteville Multiple Use Area.

Group of Forest Rangers and Firefighters with tools during fire suppression course
Basic Wildland Fire Suppression course in Milan

Town of Willsboro
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 14 at 11:50 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker with a possible ankle fracture near the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain. Rangers reached the 43-year-old from Chazy in under an hour. Ranger Bronson requested additional support and a UTV to transport the subject to the trailhead. The hiker brought herself to the hospital for further care and resources were clear at 1:44 p.m.

City of Fulton
Oswego County
Public Outreach:
On June 16, Forest Rangers Petit and Vaile attended the Palermo Elementary Career and Wellness Day. Ranger Vaile discussed a Forest Ranger's job duties and the two Rangers gave lessons in fire safety and wildfire suppression. Rangers used cups as targets so children could learn how to aim water at a fire.

kids spraying water at plastic cups
Palermo Elementary Career and Wellness Day

Rangers under tent with ATV and informational table
Rangers Petit and Vaile at Palermo Elementary Career and Wellness Day

Canadice Lake
Ontario County
Water Rescue:
On June 17 at 2 p.m., while preparing for boat patrol on Hemlock Lake, Forest Ranger Dormer overheard Ontario County 911 radio traffic reporting an overturned kayak in the middle of Canadice Lake. The kayaker was in wind-driven rough water, with no other vessels nearby. Ranger Dormer called Assistant Forest Ranger Dorety to assess the situation from the Canadice Lake boat launch. Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Dussault also responded. At 2:15 p.m., a group of good Samaritans found the distressed kayaker and took him into their canoe. The Ranger boat crew retrieved the kayak, returned it to shore, and confirmed the distressed kayaker was safe.

Ranger on boat grabs red kayak out of the water
Rangers recover kayak on Canadice Lake

Town of Florence
Oneida County
On June 17 at 10:43 p.m., Forest Rangers Bills and Piersma responded to Mad River State Forest for a report of an underage drinking party. Rangers arrived to find a group of approximately 30 people. After ensuring any drivers were not impaired, Rangers directed the group to clean up and vacate the area. One ticket was issued. Resources were clear at 1 a.m.

Town of Hadley
Saratoga County
On June 19, Forest Ranger American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors led 16 Rangers in a whitewater paddling clinic on the Sacandaga River. Rangers sharpened their paddling skills and maneuvers in Class II rapids. Forest Rangers often patrol and respond to emergencies in swift water environments. Maintaining paddling skills is imperative to being safe in whitewater situations.

Ranger in kayak in rushing waters during training
Whitewater paddling clinic

Rangers in kayaks lined up on the water for group photo
Whitewater paddling clinic

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Dog Rescue:
On June 18, Ray Brook Dispatch emailed Ranger O'Connor about a lost dog on McKenzie Mountain. The following morning, Ranger O'Connor called the dog's owner to get more information. While hiking down the mountain, the owner had to unclip the dog, "Wilson," so he could get down the rock scramble, but Wilson took off running. The dog's tracking device wasn't working, so the owner couldn't find him. The four-month-old puppy spent the night in the woods. At approximately 11 a.m., the puppy approached a group of hikers with a dog. The hikers leashed the puppy and called the owner. Ten minutes later, Rangers O'Connor and Ordway were there to help the puppy down the trail and reunited him with his owner. Interviews with Ranger O'Connor and Wilson's owner are available at DEC's website (video, 88 MB).

Ranger pets dog that was lost in the woods
Ranger O'Connor with Wilson

Two Rangers, a dog and its owner sit on area of trail in the woods
Rangers Ordway and O'Connor with Wilson

Ranger looks on as dog and owner are reunited
Wilson reunited with owner

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 19 at 10:40 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a call for three hikers lost off trail on Porter Mountain. Coordinates placed the hikers from Lockport approximately 1,000 feet down a drainage perpendicular to the trail. Ranger Duchene instructed the hikers to head back to the trail. At 1:50 a.m., Ranger Duchene reached the subjects and walked the trio back to Marcy Field.

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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