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 Old Forge
Snowmobile Training: From Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, Forest Rangers Hettenbaugh, Jahn, Hanno, and Allwine attended the New York State Snowmobile Law Enforcement Development School (NYS SLEDS) in Old Forge. The five-day course included instruction in snowmobile operation, Snowmobiling While Intoxicated (SWI) detection, checkpoints, and speed enforcement. Participants were instructed in snowmobile laws and handling on-trail emergencies. Students also completed an extensive Emergency Vehicle Operations Course. Multiple agencies and departments participated in the training, including New York State Police, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the Onondaga, Warren, and Lewis County Sheriffs' Departments.
Rangers attend New York State Snowmobile Law Enforcement Development School
Town of Dresden
Snowmobile Accident: On Feb. 3 at 7:18 a.m., Washington County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with a snowmobile accident near Lapland Pond in Dresden. Forest Rangers Pouton and St. Claire responded. The 38-year-old snowmobiler from Putnam had suffered a broken pelvis. Rangers assisted with first aid, packaged the subject in a rescue toboggan, and pulled him by snowmobile to the trailhead at 11 a.m. The subject was transferred to a Dresden Ambulance and taken to the hospital. Resources were clear at 11:18 a.m.
Towns of Webb, Florence, and Forestport
Snowmobile Enforcement: From Feb. 4-7, Region 6 Forest Rangers conducted several snowmobile enforcement efforts. On Feb. 4, Rangers assisted the Town of Webb Police with an evening enforcement patrol. Rangers focused on safe highway crossings in the town of Forestport and conducted speed enforcement in the town of Florence on Saturday and Sunday. Enforcement efforts yielded six violations for imprudent speed and one violation for failure to stop for a highway crossing. Speeding violations ranged in excess of 18 to 28 miles per hour (MPH) above the 55 MPH speed limit.
Rangers conduct snowmobile speed enforcement
Town of Long Lake
Snowmobile Accident: On Feb. 5 at 2 p.m., Essex County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance for a snowmobile accident on the Moonshine Pond Trail near Mohegan Lake. Forest Rangers Balerno and Milano responded. The 43-year-old snowmobiler from Ohio had lost control, rolled, and crashed into a tree. At 2:50 p.m., Long Lake Fire and EMS reached the subject, provided care, and packaged her in their Trak vehicle and rescue toboggan. The subject was taken by ambulance to a hospital for head and wrist injuries. Ranger Milano helped the rest of the snowmobiling party out of the woods safely. Resources were clear at 3:25 p.m.
Stewart State Forest
Snowmobile Enforcement: On Feb. 5 and 6, Forest Rangers Martin, Parlier, and Sweeney planned a snowmobile enforcement at Stewart State Forest. Rangers covered 30 miles of trails, but the ice storm made snowmobiling conditions less than ideal. Rather than continue with the enforcement, Rangers educated an estimated 100 people enjoying the outdoors about snowmobile safety and preparing for spending time outdoors during winter months.
Town of Middlebury
Snowmobile Enforcement: On Feb. 6, Forest Rangers Kennedy and Thaine conducted snowmobile safety checks at Carlton Hill Multiple Use Area. Rangers checked out approximately 69 snowmobiles and provided information about rules and regulations on State lands. Rangers issued one citation for an unregistered snowmobile.
Ranger Thaine performs snowmobile safety check
Town of Hunter
Dog Recovery: On Feb. 7 at 2:45 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to a request to recover a deceased dog at the Lower Falls of Kaaterskill Falls. Rangers Allwine, Dawson, Fox, Jackson, and Petit responded with technical gear to reach the dog in the icy conditions. The unleashed dachshund got away from its owner, slipped, and hit a fence. At 3:35 p.m., Rangers returned the deceased dog to its owner.
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.