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For Release: Tuesday, July 25, 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."

Borough of Brooklyn
Kings County
Public Outreach:
On July 10, Forest Ranger Quinones spoke to students at the Timbuctoo Climate Science and Careers Summer Institute. The institute is directed by Paul Hai through the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and has a curriculum designed for high school juniors and sophomores who attend New York City schools and are interested in careers in conservation. Ranger Quinones discussed his training, fighting wildfires, conducting search and rescues, and undertaking law enforcement throughout the state.

Ranger speaks to group of students in a classroom
Ranger Quinones at Timbuctoo Climate Science and Careers Summer Institute

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Campground Eviction:
On July 18 at 2:30 p.m., Cranberry Lake Campground staff called Ray Brook dispatch to request Forest Ranger assistance with a group of campers who cut down a maple tree and did not register their site. Rangers Baldwin and Jansen informed the group of campground regulations and issued a ticket for illegally cutting down a tree.

illegally-cut tree at campground site
Illegal tree cutting at Cranberry Lake Campground

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 21 at 4:20 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a report of a hiker with a leg injury on the trail to Bald Mountain. Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Bolton reached the 51-year-old from New Hampshire, wrapped her ankle, and provided medication for pain and swelling. Ranger McCartney arrived moments later and the two Rangers helped the hiker and her daughter back down the mountain. The pair reached their car at 6:07 p.m.

Hamlet of Haines Falls
Greene County
Bear Compliance Detail:
From July 21 to 23, Forest Rangers and staff at North-South Lake Campground conducted a targeted bear compliance detail. The Rangers and campground staff reminded campers not to keep food in their tents or tent trailers, and to keep campsites clean and free of garbage. Campers were advised that when not being used, all food and coolers should be kept in vehicles with a hard top or in a bear-resistant storage container. Campers should also remove all garbage from their campsites immediately after meals, especially after dinner. The intentional or unintentional feeding of bears is illegal in New York and can result in tickets and eviction from the campground. Over the weekend, Rangers inspected 278 sites, issued 15 warnings to campers, and observed six bears.

Ranger inspects picnic table at campsite
Bear compliance detail

Hamlet of Seneca Falls
Seneca County
Wilderness Search:
On July 22 at 12:30 a.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Lieutenant Thomas contacted Forest Ranger Lieutenant Wickens about a Seneca Falls Police search for a 71-year-old with dementia. The subject had last been seen approximately six hours earlier. Eighty people from Seneca Falls Police, New York State Police, Seneca County Sheriff's Department, Fayette Fire Department, and Waterloo Fire Department searched in the dark with ATVs, a drone, and LifeNet aviation. At 8:30 a.m., a Ranger-led search crew located the subject in tall grass. She had wandered away from her home, tripped and fell in a hole, and was concealed in the waist-high grass. Ranger Lunt took the subject's vitals and provided hydration until the ambulance arrived.

large field with tall, thick grass
Search crews find missing subject in tall grass

Town of Blenheim
Schoharie County
Public Outreach:
On July 22 Forest Ranger France and ECO Burgess participated in the Mine Kill State Park Summerfest. The event is a 50-year celebration of the park. Ranger France talked about his role as a Forest Ranger and reviewed the importance of the Hike Smart NY program to educate people about how to hike responsibly and safely.

ECO, Ranger, and eagle mascott at public outreach event
ECO Burgess and Ranger France at Mine Kill State Park Summerfest

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescues:
On July 22 at 4:15 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received calls for a hiker with a knee injury on Basin Mountain and a hiker with an ankle injury on Mount Colden. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was called in to assist with both rescues. AFR Jackson helped the 20-year-old from Binghamton with the ankle injury to the Lake Colden outpost where NYSP Pilot Oropallo had landed. At 5:20 p.m., the patient was flown to the hospital. At 6 p.m., NYSP Pilot Oropallo flew with Rangers Lewis and O'Connor to Basin Mountain. Ranger Lewis lowered Ranger O'Connor down to help the 35-year-old from Painted Post who had suffered a knee injury. The responders performed a successful hoist operation and flew the patient to the hospital.

Ranger being lowered down by helicopter to injured hiker
Ranger O'Connor lowered down Basin Mountain

Ranger looks on as injured hiker is lifted out by helicopter
Injured hiker hoisted from Basin Mountain

Ranger and rescued hiker in a helicopter
Ranger Lewis and injured hiker from Basin Mountain

Town of Stratford
Fulton County
Law Enforcement:
On July 23 at 3:25 p.m., Forest Ranger Geyer and ECO Newell responded to Ferris Lake Wild Forest to arrest a camper wanted on a bench warrant. At 4:45 p.m., Ranger Geyer transferred the 53-year-old from Stratford to Herkimer Village Police without incident. The warrant stemmed from a failure to appear following a charge of resisting an officer.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Allergic Reaction:
On July 24 at 11:44 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a message from a beacon device alerting Forest Rangers to a 14-year-old from Chadwicks who was having an allergic reaction, including throat swelling and hives due to a previously unknown nut allergy. The group on the boat administered an epinephrine injection, but it didn't provide any relief. Forest Rangers Corey and Milano were on patrol on Long Lake and reached the subject within 11 minutes of the call. Rangers transported the teenager to the boat launch and turned over care to the Long Lake Rescue Squad.

ranger on a boat with a child
Ranger Corey and 14-year-old

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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