DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

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DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 6/3 - 6/9/19

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 the backcountry.

In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Town of Neversink
Sullivan County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 3 at 5:11 p.m., DEC Dispatch received a call from a female hiker reporting that she and three others were lost in the Neversink Unique Area. The hikers had parked at a lot near Katrina Falls Road where they proceeded to hike to the Yellow Trail and then to the Red Trail to see the waterfalls. Proceeding down the Blue Trail, the hikers became lost. Dispatch had the caller place a call to 911 to get coordinates, which were relayed to Forest Rangers Matthew Hettenbaugh and Howard Kreft, who arrived on the scene. By 5:59 p.m., the hikers were located and walking out of the woods. The incident concluded at 6:56 p.m.

Town of Black Brook
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 4 at 12:23 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC Dispatch from a caller stating that his hiking party was unable to find the trail to descend from the summit of Catamount Mountain. Forest Rangers David Russell, Peters Evans, and Glen Bronson responded. The 58-year-old male and 58-year-old female from Vestal were located by 1:30 p.m., and escorted back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 2:30 p.m.

Town of Colonie
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
On June 4, DEC Forest Rangers, Albany Pine Bush staff, and volunteers conducted a 62-acre prescribed burn at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The burn was conducted in a wooded area off Kings Road. The treatment will allow the wild blue lupine to flourish and increase the preserve's habitat for the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly.

An area where prescribed fires had been done. Smoke can still be seen around some of the remaining treesSmoke in the background and untouched healthy plants and flowers in the foreground
Prescribed fire in the Albany Pine Bush

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Swift water Rescue Training:
On June 6, Region 5 Forest Rangers completed the second swift water training session on the Raquette River at Buttermilk Falls. Forest Rangers are often called to aid in swift water search and rescue incidents throughout the state and training keeps them prepared in case a response is required.

Forest Rangers throwing a line in fast moving watersForest ranger throwing a line for a rescue as water comes crashing around a large rock
Rangers conduct swift water rescue training

Franklin County
Aviation Training:
On June 6, Region 5 Forest Rangers conducted an Aviation Ground School for backcountry seasonal employees at the Adirondack Regional Airport. The day-long training, in cooperation with pilots from New York State Police Aviation, included Assistant Forest Rangers, interior caretakers, and staff from the Student Conservation Association. Each participant learned the basics of packaging an injured patient for transport in a helicopter, as well as rigging a harness for an individual to be safely hoisted in and out of a helicopter. The day began with an overview of the State Police helicopter and how to operate in a safe work environment. With the services of the State Police, these seasonal employees are often called upon to assist with remote rescues in the Adirondack backcountry.

Rangers listiening to aviation training informationMan being rescued by a helicopter during training session
Aviation training with New York State Police in Franklin County

Town of New Scotland
Albany County
On June 8, Forest Ranger Lt. David Pachan participated in Outdoors Day at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, focusing on backpacking and hiker safety with an emphasis on Hike Smart Hike Safe principles. Safety and preparedness are extremely important when entering the woods. To learn more about how to prepare for a hiking trip, visit DEC's Hiking Safety webpage.

Lieutenant Pachan at the Hiker Safety booth
Lt. David Pachan conducting outreach and hiker safety education at Five Rivers

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 8, a 32-year-old female was hiking on the escarpment trail near Kaaterskill Falls when she felt lightheaded and lost consciousness. Her friend called 911 and two Assistant Forest Rangers responded. Three Forest Rangers and Tannersville Rescue personnel also rushed to the scene. The subject regained consciousness and was assisted out of the woods. The subject was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Richmond County
On June 8, DEC hosted Outdoors Day at Mount Loretto Unique Area. Forest Rangers John Franceschina and John Gagne hosted an information table to speak to the public about outdoor safety. Ranger Franceschina also performed a drone demonstration to show the public how DEC Forest Rangers use the technology to help in search and rescues and wildland firefighting. Rangers interacted with more than 300 citizens at the event.

Ranger Franceschina holding the drone remote as he conducts the drone demonstration
Ranger Franceschina conducting drone demonstration

Town of Jackson
Washington County
Search and Rescue:
On June 9, DEC's Central Dispatch was notified by Washington County 911 of three kayakers overdue from a trip on the Batten Kill River. The kayakers, two adults, and a 10-year-old boy, had entered the river at the Vermont state line. Lt. John Solan arrived on scene with New York State Police and found two overturned kayaks in the water. The river was estimated to be five feet above normal with strong currents and cold temperatures. Five additional Forest Rangers responded with rafts, rope, and an underwater camera. Washington County Emergency Services responded with infrared drones to start a flyover of the river. At 2:06 a.m., Lt. Solan received a report that the subjects were located in a nearby campground by a State Trooper. The kayakers had exited the river when one of the boats was caught on a snag. The river currents swept the kayaks downstream. All three were treated by EMS and released. Rangers returned later that morning to retrieve the kayaks from the water.

Two overturned kayaks lodged under fallen wood debris on the bank of the river
Kayaks found downstream

Town of Moreau
Saratoga County
On June 8 at 7:12 p.m., Saratoga County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch concerning a group of three adults and three children lost on the Moreau State Park trail system. The call was transferred to Forest Ranger Tony Goetke, who worked with Saratoga County 911 in an attempt to guide them back to their vehicle. After the group failed to exit the woods, Ranger Goetke responded to the scene with New York State Police and located them in good health by 8:52 p.m., and escorted the group back to their vehicle.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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