DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

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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 2021, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests. Some of these incidents featured each week result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, the "DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights" is transitioning to a new title, "Forest Rangers - Week In Review."

"Over the last decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC saw an uptick in people visiting State lands to experience New York's abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC's Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely, as well as to protect our state's irreplaceable natural resources. Rangers' knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to white water rivers, and throughout our vast forests statewide."

Town of Beekman
Dutchess County
Wildland Fire:
On Jan. 26 at 6:14 p.m., the Beekman Fire Department requested Forest Ranger assistance with an unattended fire that escaped a fire pit and spread to two trees. Forest Ranger Cowart and Environmental Conservation Police Officer Read responded and contained the fire by 8:46 p.m. Ranger Cowart returned the next morning to speak to the property owner and ensure the fire didn't rekindle and issued two tickets for violations related to leaving a fire unattended.

smouldering wood at wildland fire
Wildland fire in Beekman

Large, charred pieces of trees after fire
Wildland fire in Beekman

Town of Carmel
Putnam County
Chainsaw Training:
On Jan. 27, Forest Rangers Brand and Parlier led chainsaw training for six New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation employees and nine Region 3 Forest Rangers at Fahnestock State Park in the town of Carmel. Approximately 40 trees, mostly Eastern Hemlock, were cut down. The trees were considered hazard trees due to weakening caused by the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Forest Rangers are trained in using chainsaws for wildland firefighting and continually hone their skills through refreshers and clearing hazard trees on State lands. Chainsaw skills are necessary in wildland fire suppression and ensuring public safety on State Lands.

Person demonstrates how to cut a stump vertically with a chainsaw
Chainsaw training

Person demonstrates how to chainsaw through a small tree that has fallen
Chainsaw training

People sit at a picnic table with chainsaws on it
Chainsaw training

People standing in a row under a pavillion
Chainsaw training

Town of Charlotte
Chautauqua County
Snowmobile Enforcement:
On Jan. 28, Forest Rangers Robitaille and Sprague conducted snowmobile safety checks with New York State Police in Boutwell Hill State Forest. Rangers looked at approximately 80 snowmobiles, provided information to snowmobilers about State Land regulations, and gave directions when needed. Rangers also issued three citations for unregistered snowmobiles and modified exhausts.

Forest Rangers approach snowmobilers on snowy trail during safety check
Rangers perform snowmobile safety checks

Forest Ranger approaches snowmobiler on trail
Rangers perform snowmobile safety checks

City of Syracuse
Onondaga County
Public Outreach:
From Jan. 28 through 30, Forest Rangers joined fellow DEC staff in participating in the New York Sportsman's Expo at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Rangers answered questions about DEC land use regulations and shared information about basic preparedness when recreating in the wildland environment. It was also an opportunity for people interested in a career as a Forest Ranger to learn about the requirements.

Forest Ranger and DEC Staff stand at informational tables at expo
DEC Forest Ranger Murphy and Aquatic Biologist Prindle at the New York Sportsman's Expo

Franklin and Hamilton Counties
Snowmobile Enforcement:
Over the last week, Forest Rangers from Region 5 Zone A patrolled more than 311 miles of snowmobile trails in Santa Clara, Paul Smiths, Onchiota, Lake Clear, Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale, Tupper Lake, Long Lake, and Raquette Lake. Rangers checked 395 snowmobiles for up-to-date registration, insurance, and required equipment. Multiple tickets were issued and Rangers also assisted snowmobilers with replacing belts and offering directions. Rangers work all season long with snowmobile clubs and local groomers to ensure trails are safe each winter.

Town of Ellenburg
Franklin County
Snowmobile Enforcement:
On Jan. 29 at 8:17 p.m. while on patrol in the Cobble Hill Public Use area on the Chateaugay Woodlands Conservation Easement, Ranger Russell encountered a snowmobiler who didn't display proper registration. The Ranger initiated a stop to determine the validity of the operator's registration. During the interview, Ranger Russell noted the appearance of slurred speech, red watery eyes, and detected alcohol on the operator's breath. Based on these factors, Ranger Russell administered standardized field sobriety tests on the operator and arrested the subject for Snowmobiling While Intoxicated. When the subject was processed at the New York State Police Barracks in Plattsburgh, they had a BAC of 0.13. The subject was processed and released to a sober third party.

Town of Stratford
Fulton County
Wildland Rescue:
On Jan. 28 at 3:21 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a mother reporting that her 13-year-old girl daughter was suspected of running away into the woods. Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Scott and Bills responded. Retired Ranger Ploss was also called by the mother and began searching the woods after directing her to call for Ranger assistance. Retired Ranger Ploss found the subject at 4:40 p.m. Lt. Kerr and retired Ranger Ploss provided the subject with extra socks and a coat, warmed her up, and walked her out of the woods. Resources were clear at 5:07 p.m.

Town of Lake Pleasant
Hamilton County
Snowmobile Accident:
On Jan. 29 at 1:05 p.m., while on a joint snowmobile detail with the Hamilton County Sherriff's Department, Forest Ranger Thompson, and the Sheriff's Snowmobile Unit were alerted by Hamilton County Dispatch about a snowmobile accident on Jessup Road in the town of Lake Pleasant. Ranger Thompson brought in rescue equipment via snowmobile and Sheriff's staff transported Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps (GAVAC) personnel to the scene. The operator lost control of their snowmobile on a curve, hit a tree, and sustained a broken femur. Ranger Thompson, GAVAC, and Speculator Ambulance personnel assessed the patient, splinted the injury, and loaded him into the Speculator Ambulance UTV. The patient was transported to Nathan Littauer Hospital. Responders documented the crash site and coordinated the removal of the snowmobile with the Lake Pleasant groomer. Area fire departments assisted with traffic control on Route 30 and the busy snowmobile trail intersection.

Town of Royalton
Niagara County
Enforcement/Information Detail:
On Jan. 29-30, Forest Rangers Cordell and Kennedy conducted an enforcement and information detail at the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This area had four shooting ranges with specific legal hours and conditions for use. Rangers checked all range users for compliance and reminded the public that these ranges will close on Feb. 1, 2022. DEC is prohibiting target shooting at the WMA's dirt mounds along Owen-Bartel Road in the town of Royalton to protect public safety, reduce lead contamination in the environment, provide wildlife habitat, protect down-range power lines, and promote a cleaner and safer Tonawanda WMA. The closure will bring the WMA into compliance with recently adopted regulations for WMAs statewide that prohibit target shooting. Ten citations were issued for violating existing regulations pertaining to the use and protection of this area.

Forest Rangers talk to people at shooting range
Rangers educate Tonawanda WMA shooting range users about upcoming closure

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Public Outreach:
On Jan. 29-30, DEC Forest Rangers and DEC's Division of Operations worked together at the Adirondak Loj trailhead to educate the public about trail conditions, weather conditions, proper clothing and gear, and the required snowshoes/skis that hikers must wear in the High Peaks when there are at least eight inches of snow on the ground. When people hike in the snow without snowshoes or skis, they "post-hole," which creates hazardous trail conditions and can cause sudden falls and potential injury. Without this education, many hikers would be unaware of these requirements.

Forest Ranger stands next to sign on snowy trailhead in the woods
DEC Operations employee Tyler at the Adirondak Loj trailhead

Forest Rangers meet at a snowy trailhead in the woods
Forest Ranger Mecus and Operations employee Tyler educating the public about trail conditions

sign on a stake in the ground
Footwear requirement sign

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.

https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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