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For Release: Tuesday, June 27, 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 Shandaken
Ulster County
Illegal Camping:
On June 21 at 3 p.m., Forest Rangers were notified that approximately 60 people were setting up camp on Giant's Ledge in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Rangers Horn, Martin, and Rusher made contact with the large group from New Jersey and educated the trip leaders on wilderness regulations. While primitive camping is allowed, campsites must be at least 150 feet from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of 10 or more requires a permit. Rangers issued tickets to the trip leaders for exceeding the permitted group size and provided information about several legal camping site options.

Hamlet of Lake Clear
Hamilton County
On June 21, four pilots from New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation and six Forest Rangers participated in bucket training. Rangers work in tandem with NYSP pilots to fill the 240-gallon bucket before determining the proper altitude to dump the water on mock wildfires during the training.

Video from the bucket training is available on the DEC website:

Ranger looking out over lake during training from helicopter
Bucket training on Lake Clear

Ranger sitting at opening on helicopter during bucket training
Bucket training on Lake Clear

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 25 at 2:15 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to Pitchoff Mountain for a report of a hiker with an ankle injury. Ranger O'Connor reached the 60-year-old from Canada and splinted his ankle. Ranger O'Connor and other hikers started helping the subject back down the mountain. Additional Rangers arrived to assist the hiker. They reached the trailhead by 5:30 p.m., where the patient was taken to the hospital for 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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