Recent 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 the backcountry.
In 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.
"DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York's wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The state's brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service."
Town of Bolton
Wilderness Rescue: On April 29 at 4:30 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 75-year-old man from Gansevoort who became disoriented while hiking on Thomas and Cat mountains and was unsure about which path to take to get back. After obtaining the disoriented hiker's cell phone number, Forest Ranger Evan Donegan contacted him and gave instructions on how to return to the trailhead on the north side of the mountain. Meanwhile, Ranger Donegan made his way into the woods to intercept the man and assist him the rest of the way out. At 6:28 p.m., Ranger Donegan reached the mountain's summit, but had not found the hiker. Forest Ranger Joe Hess also responded to start in from the southern trailhead at Edgecomb Pond. At 7:09 p.m., the hiker's daughter called Dispatch reporting her father was back on the trail with her husband. Ranger Donegan was notified and reached the two men by 7:19 p.m. He escorted the pair back to the trailhead and all Rangers were cleared from the scene.
Town of Brookhaven
ATV and Dumping Enforcement: On May 1, Forest Ranger Scott Hicks responded to several public complaints of illegal off-roading activity within the Rocky Point Natural Resource Management Area in Brookhaven, Suffolk County. Ranger Hicks' proactive patrol netted seven operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), resulting in 18 related summonses for the offenders. Charges included: trespassing on posted lands; operating an ATV on public land; operating a 4x4 vehicle off-road on public land within the county of Suffolk; operating an ATV without a helmet; operating an unregistered ATV; failure to display a plate on an ATV; and operating an ATV without liability insurance in effect. In addition, on May 3, Ranger Hicks participated in a multi-agency ATV detail with the Central Pine Barrens Commission's Law Enforcement Council to deter off-road activities. He also began investigations into five illegal dumping complaints at Rocky Point.
Forest Ranger ATVs staging at DEC's Rocky Point Natural Resource Management Area
Town of Chesterfield
Wilderness Rescue: On May 1 at 3:51 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured person on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain. A few minutes later, 911 called Dispatch advising that a 19-year-old man from Plattsburgh had fallen on the trail and injured his left leg. The man, hiking alone, believed he had dislocated his knee after falling on his way to the climbing walls. Coordinates obtained by 911 put the man on the trail not far from the trailhead. Forest Ranger Jared Booth responded to the area first, followed by Forest Rangers Sarah Bode and Scott van Laer, the Keeseville Fire Department, and Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital EMS. The emergency team carried the injured man back to the trailhead and EMS transported him to a local hospital for further medical assistance.
Town of Santa Clara
Wilderness Rescue: On May 2 at 5:05 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from two hikers on St. Regis Mountain concerned that they were lost. Dispatch instructed the two women from Hogansburg to call 911 to establish coordinates. The coordinates indicated the pair had been off the trail for more than a mile and while they were headed in the wrong direction, they were close to a secondary trail at St. Regis Lake. At 5:44 p.m., Forest Ranger Chris DiCintio arrived at the trailhead and started hiking to the hikers' last known location. At 6:41p.m., Ranger DiCintio located the hikers and started back out to the trailhead on Keese Mill Road. At 7:18 p.m., everyone was back to the trailhead and heading home.
Town of Bolton
Wilderness Rescue: On May 2 at 9:29 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a concerned family member of two hikers on Cat Mountain. The hikers were not prepared for darkness and were lost on the trail. The caller was instructed to have the hikers call 911 to obtain their coordinates. Dispatch determined that the hikers were just off the east trail. Forest Ranger Evan Donegan responded to the trailhead south of Edgecomb Pond at 10:45 p.m., and started hiking in to locate the hikers. At 11:53 p.m., Ranger Donegan requested a second Ranger to respond to the north trailhead to assist with transportation needs once the hikers were located. At 12:15 a.m., Ranger Donegan advised that the two hikers were found off the trail, tired and slightly hypothermic. Ranger Donegan assisted the pair north up the trail where they were met by Ranger Logan Quinn with an ATV. The 66-year old woman and 67-year-old man from Saratoga Springs were given a ride out to the parking lot. The couple declined medical treatment and departed. All Rangers were cleared from the scene at 2:35 a.m.
Graffiti on rocks: DEC Forest Rangers in Region 6 are investigating graffiti painted on rocks at the top of Bald Mountain. Hikers said the drawings were located off the main trail near the fire tower and included language making light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forest Rangers, already aware of the graffiti, are encouraging anyone with information to call DEC's non-emergency dispatch at 518-897-1300. If caught, those responsible could face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Wildfire: On May 3 at 4:27 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Warren County 911 reporting a fire in the Butler Pond area of the town of Queensbury. Forest Ranger Evan Donegan responded to assist the local fire department in locating the fire. Once on scene, Ranger Donegan advised that the fire appeared to be on Darling Mountain and requested another Ranger to assist. With the aid of the local fire department's drone, they located the fire on the mountain and Forest Rangers Donegan and Chuck Kabrehl spent the evening sizing up the fire and preparing for full suppression efforts. Ranger Donegan advised that the fire posed no real threat at the time and requested three additional Rangers to help with the suppression of the fire. On May 4, Forest Rangers Marie Arnold, Art Perryman, and Logan Quinn responded to assist. Rangers will continue to patrol the area until the evening of May 5, but there is no further impact to the surrounding area.
Town of Hope
Wildfire: On May 3 at 7:11 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Fulton County 911 advising that the Hope Fire Department was requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a fire in the area of Hope Falls Road. Forest Rangers Melissa Milano and David Nally responded to the initial call. Forest Rangers assisted with suppression efforts until 10:50 p.m., when they were cleared from the scene and declared the fire controlled. The brush fire led to the loss of an unoccupied cabin of unknown ownership on the property. Forest Rangers returned on May 4 to patrol and strengthen control lines.
New York State COVID-19 Response: DEC personnel from across agency divisions and regions statewide continue to support the State's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Personnel from more than 20 New York State agencies are working on response efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. DEC Forest Rangers' expertise in the Incident Command System (ICS) and experience in applying ICS to wide area searches and large wildland fire have made them a key part of this statewide effort.
Forest Ranger Lt. Dave Kallen at the Albany COVID-19 testing facility (Photo courtesy of New York State Department of Health)