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For Release: Tuesday, August 15, 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 Fire:
On Aug. 2, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Pachan, and Rangers Clute, Gullen, Mitchell, and Morehouse joined staff from DEC and Albany Pine Bush Preserve to conduct a prescribed burn of 19 acres 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).

Forest Rangers and Pine Bush staff wearing yellow during prescribed burn
Albany Pine Bush prescribed burn

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Water Recovery:
On Aug. 8 at 3:33 p.m., Forest Ranger Dawson responded to a call for a subject trapped under the water at Fawn's Leap. The 16-year-old was part of a group of six who traveled from Brooklyn to swim at Fawn's Leap. Heavy rainfall the previous night created strong currents in the swimming hole. The teenager jumped 30 feet into the water hole and got pulled under by the current. A member of another group called 911. Ranger Dawson and Hunter Police arrived at 4 p.m. Ranger Dawson entered the water with a seven foot long rescue pole, but was unable to find the subject. A New York State Police Diver searched the opposite side of the water hole and found the subject five feet underwater, pinned against a ledge. The swimmer was declared deceased by a Greene County Paramedic. Rangers and other volunteers packaged the subject into a litter and raised him using a low angle rope technique.

Rangers and Police in water with ropes recovering a person's body
Fawn's Leap Recovery

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 9 at 11:20 a.m., Forest Rangers responded to a call for a hiker with an injured ankle approximately 1.4 miles in on the Watch Hill Trail. Rangers reached the 69-year-old from Gansevoort in less than an hour. With the help of Indian Lake Rescue, Rangers provided care and packaged the subject to carry her to the beach. From there, Ranger Miller transported the subject by boat to the Indian Lake Islands Campground. Indian Lake EMS drove the patient to the hospital at 2:20 p.m.

Rangers and EMS carrying injured hiker down a trail in the woods
Watch Hill rescue

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 9 at 12:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker who fell approximately 40 feet off the highest waterfall in the Trap Dike on Mount Colden. Eleven Rangers responded with the help of New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation, who made multiple flights to deliver Rangers to the base of the Trap Dike. At 1:50 p.m., the Mount Colden and Marcy Dam caretakers reached the 23-year-old from Canada who had suffered significant head, rib, hip, and leg injuries. Rangers set up a multi-pitch, steep-angle rope rescue. After safely packaging the subject into a litter, Rangers and other rescuers successfully lowered the patient down to the base of the Trap Dike and carried him to the NYSP helicopter on the edge of Avalanche Lake. The patient was flown to the hospital at 5:45 p.m.

Ranger Foutch describes the rescue in a video available on DEC's YouTube page (leaves DEC website). The Trap Dike is a Class Four climb and should only be attempted by those with the proper experience and equipment.

Rangers and hikers helping package up injured hiker near large rockface
Trap Dike rescue

view looking down on Rangers during rescue in rocky valley area of Trap Dike
Trap Dike rescue

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Water Rescue:
On Aug. 11 at 6:51 a.m., Forest Ranger Miller responded to a call for an injured canoeist on Raquette Lake. The 61-year-old from Gardiner hurt his leg and couldn't make it safely back to shore. Ranger Miller located the canoeist and escorted him back to shore using the Ranger boat before providing a courtesy ride to subject's vehicle. Resources were clear at 9:17 a.m.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 11 at 12:32 p.m., while on foot patrol, Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Raudonis encountered a hiker with an unstable lower leg injury. AFR Raudonis splinted the ankle before Forest Rangers started walking the 49-year-old from Connecticut toward the Lake Colden Outpost. At 4:14 p.m., New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was called in to help transport the hiker. At 4:41 p.m., NYSP Pilot Kneer reached the subject at the Lake Colden Outpost where Rangers loaded her into the helicopter to be flown to the hospital.

Village of Saranac Lake
Essex County
On Aug. 11, Forest Rangers Adams and Rooney taught a flatwater rescue class to Search and Rescue of Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) on Lake Colby. Rangers led the training for 11 SARNAK members preparing for the Adirondack Canoe Classic, commonly known as the "90 Miler." The three-day event from Old Forge to Saranac Lake starts on Sept. 8. SARNAK is an invaluable resource that helps Rangers on many rescues in the High Peaks.

Rangers and SARNAK crew practice over-turned canoe rescue on lake
Flat water rescue training (photo Courtesy SARNAK)

Rangers and SARNAK crew pose for group photo behind a small sign
Flat water rescue training (photo Courtesy SARNAK)

Town of Truxton
Cortland County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 12 at 1:03 p.m., while patrolling Labrador Hollow Unique Area, Forest Ranger Chappell overheard a radio call for a subject with a broken leg at Tinker Falls. Onondaga County had a general idea of where the 19-year-old from Syracuse could be found. Ranger Chappell and members of the Apulia and Truxton Fire Departments conducted a search and located the subject and his friend in a drainage approximately 0.4 miles upstream from the falls. Ranger Chappell helped splint the subject's leg. A Tully Ambulance Paramedic provided further aid. Rescuers carried the subject out of the drainage to a waiting ATV, which took him to the ambulance for transport to the hospital. Resources were clear at 3:20 p.m.

Rangers and emergency personnel carry injured hiker down trail in the woods
Tinker Falls rescue

Ranger and emergency personnel splint injured hiker's leg
Tinker Falls rescue

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 12 at 1:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Lieutenant Slade, and Rangers Dawson and Fox, responded to a report of a hiker with a leg injury along the Kaaterskill Creek stream bed. The 38-year-old from Colorado had hurt his leg after jumping off a rock. Ranger Dawson bushwacked down the steep terrain and reached the patient at 3:30 p.m. and provided first aid and crutches. Ranger Dawson helped the subject and his family through the woods and up a steep slope to Route 23A, where Lt. Slade and Ranger Fox provided a courtesy ride. The patient's family took him for further treatment. Resources were clear at 6:30 p.m.

City of Troy
Rensselaer County
Public Outreach:
On Aug. 12, Forest Ranger Jackson threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Tri-City ValleyCats game in Troy. Ranger Jackson was joined by Smokey Bear to meet with fans, discuss Ranger job duties, and teach game attendees about fire safety.

Smokey Bear, woman in black shorts and tank top, and Ranger take a photo at a baseball game
Smokey Bear, ValleyCats fan, and Ranger Jackson

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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