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For Release: Tuesday, August 22, 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 New Hudson
Allegany County
Law Enforcement:
On Aug. 11, Forest Rangers Richer and Thaine eradicated an illegal marijuana grow on Crab Hollow State Forest. DEC Wildlife staff discovered the marijuana during a field study in the town of New Hudson. Rangers removed a total of 18 plants from three different plots and destroyed them off site. Although marijuana laws have changed in New York, it is still illegal to grow on State land.

two Forest Rangers kneel next to large marijuana plant
Marijuana eradication

Town of Lexington
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 14 at 11:26 a.m., Forest Ranger Allwine received a call from the Frost Valley YMCA Director about a camper who fell 10 feet off a rock face at the John Robb lean-to. One member of the group was a wilderness first responder. Rangers Allwine, Fox, Peterson, and Assistant Forest Ranger Zeleznik reached the 11-year-old from Brooklyn at 1:30 p.m. The patient had a back injury and complained of pain while speaking. Rangers stabilized the camper in a vacuum mattress and litter, carried her out to the Rangers' vehicle, and drove her to the trailhead. Ashland Ambulance, Greene County Paramedics, and Lexington Rescue also responded. At 5:16 p.m., Ashland Ambulance transported the patient to the hospital.

Rangers tend to injured hiker on trail in the woods
Lexington rescue

Town of Napoli
Cattaraugus County
Arson Investigation:
On Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Skudlarek responded to reports of a burned camper trailer in Bucktooth State Forest. Ranger Skudlarek is working with DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations and the Cattaraugus Sheriff's Office on the arson investigation.

charred remnants of burned RV camper
Arson investigation

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug 16 at 8:50 a.m., nine Forest Rangers responded to a call for three missing hikers on the Dix Range who were supposed to meet the rest of their hiking party the night before at the Slide Brook lean-to. The teenagers from Troy, West Sand Lake, and Wynantskill were well-trained hikers with headlamps, food, water, a map, and a compass. As Rangers searched high probability areas, Ranger Savarie checked the log book at the Lillian Brook lean-to and determined the hikers spent the night there. The teens left a note that they were unsure of which way to go on the trail and would attempt to bushwhack towards the water. At 2:20 p.m., Ranger Morehouse located the trio in dense swamp and helped them back to the trailhead where they were met by their parents.

Lost hikers reuniting with parents
Dix Ranger search

Rangers and lost hikers pose for group photo after rescue
Dix Range search

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 17 at 1:14 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for an injured hiker on Bald Mountain. Lieutenant Hoag, Ranger Stone, and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Bolton responded along with Eagle Bay and Old Forge fire departments, and Old Forge Ambulance. AFR Bolton reached the 74-year-old from Rome and provided first aid for the leg injury. Rescuers carried the subject off the mountain using a wheeled litter. At 4:25 p.m., Old Forge ambulance transported the subject to the hospital.

Hamlet of Napanoch
Ulster County
Wilderness Search:
On Aug. 17 at 11:27 p.m., New York State Parks Police requested Forest Ranger assistance with a search for two campers in the Sam's Point Preserve portion of Minnewaska State Park. At 6:45 p.m., four counselors and 16 campers were dropped off at Sam's Point Preserve for a hike. The 18-year-old and 23-year-old campers became separated from the group on the Ice Caves Trail. Fog and thunderstorms hampered search efforts. The following morning, Rangers led the multi-agency search operation. At 11 a.m., rescuers located the subjects in thick vegetation. The subjects were cold, wet, and dehydrated from spending the night without any supplies. Rescuers provided food and water, assisted the pair through the heavy brush, and turned them over to Hatzalah EMS for transport to the hospital. Resources were clear at 3:30 p.m.

Rangers, police, and volunteers meet for a group meeting before wilderness search
Napanoch search

Rangers hike with lost hikers through the woods
Napanoch search

Town of Greenwich
Washington County
End of Watch:
On Aug. 18, hundreds of people paid their respects to Colonel David Cornell, Assistant Director of the Division of Forest Protection. He served as a Ranger for 23 years, eventually being promoted to Assistant Director in the spring of 2021. Commissioner Basil Seggos described his passion for protecting the environment and New Yorkers as unmatched. Colonel Cornell died by suicide on Aug. 11.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health assistance, please know help is available. The New York State Office of Mental Health has resources on its website (leaves DEC website), 988 is a free 24-hour hotline to call or text anywhere in New York, or can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Rangers and bagpipers line up in a row for funeral services
Colonel Cornell funeral

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug 18 at 3:55 p.m., Forest Rangers Duchene and Foutch responded to a call for a 14-year-old who fell while coming down Algonquin Peak. Rangers reached the teenager from Fairport by 6 p.m., wrapped his leg, and helped him and his mother down the trail. They reached their vehicle at 8:02 p.m. and decided to seek further medical attention on their own.

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug 18 at 10:07 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about two 19-year-old campers who needed help getting back to the trailhead. Forest Ranger Thompson responded and spoke to one of the teenager's fathers, who was at the trailhead. The teens planned to camp at Nine Corner Lake but realized they didn't have a fly for their tent. They attempted to walk out, but it was dark and raining, and they did not have proper footwear; one of them was barefoot. Ranger Thompson hiked up the trail, found the subjects, and helped carry their gear to the trailhead. While they didn't need medical attention in this incident, campers are encouraged to ensure they have all the proper gear before embarking on an outdoor adventure.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Water Rescue:
On Aug. 19 at 4:35 p.m., Forest Rangers France and Mitchell responded to Moore's Bridge Falls for a report of a subject stuck in the water. Twin Cloves Technical Rescue Team and Rangers reached the subject by 6 p.m. The 26-year-old from Bayside was stuck in a crevasse. Rescuers freed her from the crevasse and rigged her to a high-angle rope system to help her walk upstream. Hunter Ambulance transported the subject to the hospital at 7:20 p.m.

Rangers help injured hiker across shallow water
Moore's Bridge Falls rescue

Rangers helping injured hiker out from the gorge
Moore's Bridge Falls rescue

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Dispute/Rescue:
On Aug. 21 at 2:45 a.m., Forest Ranger Martin received a call from Ray Brook Dispatch about an injured subject on Mount Tremper. At 3:10 a.m., Ranger Martin made phone contact with the 36-year-old from Connecticut who claimed he got into an altercation with his hiking companion and believed he was "being hunted like in Predator." The hiker twisted his ankle while escaping. Three more Rangers responded with a six-wheeler and found the subject at 5:50 a.m., asleep off the trail. Rangers then found the hiking companion, a 31-year-old from Beacon, in the Mount Tremper lean-to. Interviews of both subjects indicated significant drug and alcohol impairment. Both subjects were looked at by Shandaken EMS.

Town of Elizabethtown
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 21 at 8:48 a.m., Forest Ranger Foutch responded to a call for an injured hiker between Bald Peak and Rocky Peak Ridge. At 12:30 p.m., Ranger Foutch reached the 31-year-old from Buffalo, wrapped her ankle, and provided nourishment before helping her back to the trailhead.

Town of Lake Luzerne
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 21 at 9:45 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker who fell at Potash Mountain. Three Rangers reached the 57-year-old from Pennsylvania and performed a successful carry-out with Corinth and Hadley-Luzerne fire departments. Rangers brought the subject to an awaiting Corinth ambulance at 2 p.m.

Rangers and emergency response carry hiker out of woods on trail
Potash Mountain rescue

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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