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 Hunter
Winter Rescue Training: On Feb. 7, Region 4 Forest Rangers participated in winter rescue training at North-South Lake Campground and Day Use Area to review winter gear essentials, techniques to keep warm, providing care to injured individuals in a cold environment, and moving through snow or ice-covered terrain. Rangers practiced these techniques during a practice scenario where they had to provide patient care to a hiker with an unstable leg injury, keep the subject warm, package the patient into a sked, and transport them out to a trailhead. This training helps ensure Rangers are prepared to respond to difficult and sometimes hazardous winter rescues, and a reminder to take care of themselves while providing care to the public.
Winter rescue training
Winter rescue training
Town of Long Lake
Snowmobiler Rescue: On Feb. 9 at 3:03 p.m., the Long Lake Fire Chief requested Forest Ranger assistance after a report of two snowmobiles breaking through the ice on the south end of Long Lake. Before Ranger Milano's arrival, the fire chief called with an update that one snowmobile and snowmobiler were out of the water. Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Pierce also responded from a nearby patrol. The remaining 76-year-old from Pennsylvania was not able to get out of the water. Career firefighters/EMTs from Gates were passing by and saw the subject in distress. They threw in a rope, pulled the subject out, and stripped off their wet clothing to begin the warming process. Ranger Milano provided more clothing and a blanket. Long Lake EMS arrived, but the subject refused further medical attention. ECO Pierce and the Long Lake Fire Department retrieved the snowmobile from the lake. ECO Pierce then transported the subject and his friend back to their camp in Indian Lake. Resources were clear at 4:12 p.m.
Snowmobiler rescued on Long Lake
Town of Pharsalia
Flat Ice Rescue Training: On Feb. 10, Forest Rangers conducted a flat ice rescue training on Balsam Pond. The Rangers practiced self-rescue strategies after participants "fell" through the ice using pole and throw rope techniques.
Ranger Oldroyd uses a pole during ice rescue training
Rangers practice a throw rescue with rope
Town of Truxton
Technical Rope Training: On Feb. 11, Region 7 Forest Ranger rope technicians participated in technical rope training at Tinker Falls. The Rangers focused on rescue scenarios in steep snow and icy terrain, as well as the technical skills needed to safely move through steep and vertical terrain covered in ice and snow.
Rangers Lunt and Chappell training on technical rope rescue techniques
Ranger Lunt uses crampons to get through snowy and icy terrain
Village of Lake Placid/Town of North Elba
Avalanche Training/Avalanche: On Feb. 11, Region 7 Forest Rangers participated in avalanche training at Mount Van Hoevenberg. During the annual refresher, Rangers used probes, shovels, and beacons so they are prepared in case of an avalanche. Backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and other users that may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should use extreme caution and be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions. Learn more about avalanche safety and conditions in DEC's recent avalanche advisory.
Rangers Curcio, Lewis, and Mecus participate in avalanche training
Town of Milford
State Land Use Enforcement: On Jan. 12, during a routine patrol of Susquehanna State Forest, Forest Ranger Petit discovered 21 trees had been cut down within the past few days. Ranger Petit noticed the fresh-cut stumps and wood shavings on top of the snow, as well as new ATV tracks from the stumps to an adjacent private property. After a month of attempting to make contact with the property owner, on Feb. 12, Ranger Petit finally met with the subject who admitted to cutting and removing the trees, using an ATV with a wagon to transport the wood to his property, and storing personal property on State land. The property owner was issued tickets for cutting and removing trees from State land and using a motor vehicle on State land where prohibited. He agreed to remove the personal property in a timely manner.
ATV tracks leading from private property to the cut stumps on State land
One of the 21 stumps
Personal property stored on State land
Town of Madison
Flat Ice Rescue Training: On Feb. 12, Forest Ranger Virkler provided flat ice rescue training to members of the Hamilton Fire Department. The training took place at Lake Moraine and focused on what to do if someone falls through the ice. Using ropes and ice rescue equipment, firefighters learned how to pull subjects out of the water to safety. For tips about recreating safely on the ice, go to DEC's website.
Ranger Virkler and members of Hamilton Fire Department training on flat ice rescue techniques
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Search: On Feb. 12, a 17-year-old from Niskayuna and a 16-year-old from Albany went for a hike from the South Lake trailhead to Sunset Rock. The pair arrived at Sunset Rock at approximately 5 p.m. On their way back, the subjects missed the marked trail and ended up at a small pond. When they realized they were not on the trail, they called their parents before calling 911. At 6:35 p.m., Greene County 911 requested Ranger assistance. Forest Rangers Dawson and Gullen responded and determined the hikers were at the Kaaterskill hotel site. Rangers hiked in, located the two hikers, provided them with warmer clothing, and helped them out to the trailhead where they met their parents at 9:30 p.m.
Town of Inlet
Snowmobile Accident and Enforcement: On Feb. 12 at 11:30 a.m., while on patrol in the Moose River Plains Complex, Forest Rangers Miller and Temple came across a snowmobile accident two miles from the Inlet entrance. The snowmobile was damaged, but there was no snowmobiler. Rangers determined the accident had occurred the night before. Working with Ray Brook Dispatch, the Rangers determined the snowmobile belonged to a man from New Jersey. Rangers continued searching for the snowmobiler. At 2:30 p.m., Rangers saw someone from Morin's Collision removing the snowmobile. Rangers obtained the snowmobiler's information from the salvager and drove to the subject's location. Rangers issued one ticket for leaving the scene of an accident and another for having an unregistered snowmobile. The snowmobiler was not injured in the accident. While helping the salvager remove the snowmobile, Rangers noticed two snowmobilers trying to turn around before reaching their location. Ranger Temple drove to the two subjects. One of them was off the trail and stuck and neither snowmobile was registered. Both operators were issued tickets.
Snowmobile accident in Inlet
Town of Harrietstown
Snowmobile Enforcement: On Feb. 12, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre and Rangers Russell, Praczkajlo, DiCintio, Bronson, and ECO Hovey worked together to protect snowmobilers attending the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade. They educated more than 80 snowmobilers about safety, rules, and regulations. They issued 12 tickets for various violations, including arresting one rider for Snowmobiling While Intoxicated.
Snowmobile enforcement at Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Parade
Town of Lake Pleasant
Snowmobile Accident: On Feb. 13 at 11 a.m., Hamilton County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance after receiving a call for a snowmobile accident on a trail near Oak Mountain. Forest Ranger Thompson was on snowmobile patrol nearby and responded, along with the Pleasant Lake Fire Department and Speculator Ambulance. The 32-year-old from New Jersey rented the snowmobile and after just 30 minutes, was injured in the accident. Ranger Thompson and Speculator Ambulance staff helped package the subject onto their ambulance UTV. Ranger Thompson then returned to the rented snowmobile.
Town of Lake George
Snowmobile Accident: On Feb. 13 at 3:45 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch was alerted to a snowmobile accident on the summit of Prospect Mountain. Forest Rangers Kabrehl and Perryman responded. Lake George Fire and EMS and the Warren County Sheriff's Office determined the 60-year-old had died and Rangers Kabrehl and Perryman assisted in packaging and moving the body. The Warren County Sheriff's Office identified the snowmobiler as Thomas Mulson from Lake Luzerne. Investigator Goodrich from DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation assisted at the scene.
For more information about snowmobiling safely this winter, go to New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.
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.